Sunday, July 31, 2016

The headline in the New York Times says "How Benjamin Netanyahu Is Crushing Israel’s Free Press."

So how is Israel's free press being "crushed"?

The article gives exactly three examples:

1. The Israel Hayom newspaper is unabashedly (and embarrassingly) pro-Bibi. While it might chill any staffers on the paper from writing anything against the prime minister, that does not "crush" Israel's free press.

2. Walla News became more pro-Netanyahu when its parent company, the Bezeq communications company, benefited from some government legislation.

3. The government has tried to open up TV channels to more competition, which is regarded by the op-ed writer as a cynical ploy to kill networks that Bibi doesn't like.

So how is the Israeli press responding to being "crushed"?
Although for years the most widely read daily, Yediot Ahronot, and its owner took a decidedly anti-Netanyahu line, claims of left-wing bias fall flat these days, when most Israelis are getting their news from Israel Hayom or Walla News, and when the only remaining liberal bastion — Haaretz — struggles to stay afloat. And yet Mr. Netanyahu continues to present himself as a victim of a vindictive press.
But Yediot is still around. Haaretz is still around. No one is pressuring them to change their editorial line. The success of Israel Hayom and the poor performance of Haaretz have nothing to do with governmental policies, and everything to do with Israelis considering Haaretz to be way too far left and Israel Hayom being free.

There must be more evidence for this crushing of free press , right?
The only heartening thing in all this is that news outlets are pushing back to maintain their independence. Investigative “60 Minutes”-type programs like “Uvda” (“Fact”) and “Hamakor” (“The Source”) continue to delve into government corruption and to air in prime-time slots. “Despite the assault on the press, the Israeli media remains very critical, very aggressive, and has a lot of chutzpah. It’s a kind of basic instinct that’s part of our DNA,” Ms. Dayan, who hosts Uvda, told me.
OK. We determined that major TV and newspaper outlets are quite harsh on Bibi even after he's "crushed" the free press. But at least the article proved that Walla is firmly under Bibi's control, right?

Earlier this year, Walla News’ diplomatic correspondent Amir Tibon wrote an article critical of Mr. Netanyahu’s response to the latest wave of Palestinian violence under the headline “Netanyahu’s Promises of Calm Replaced by Cheerleading.” Soon after the piece was published, Mr. Tibon was told that the prime minister’s office was pressuring editors to remove it from the website. Taking to Twitter, Mr. Tibon wrote of the prime minister’s “attempts to silence criticism.” Apparently as a result, his article remained in place. One thing did change, however: The word “Netanyahu” was removed from its headline.
Hold on - Walla published an anti-Netanyahu article? But I thought they were in his pocket! You know, the whole Bezeq thing?

I don't know why the headline was changed, but could it be that it was not accurate? Hell, I've prompted the New York Times to make changes in its articles - does that mean that I am crushing America's free press?

So, there you have it. Free speech is being "crushed" by Bibi while a vibrant, free press continues to attack him with no fear - and that free press is documented in the very article that claims the opposite.

Words have no meaning any more when dealing with Israel.

(h/t Yenta, Leo dam Hofshi)

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