Israel Hayom’s editor-in-chief, Amos Regev, intervenes in the content produced by reporters and slants it to provide more positive coverage of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to an investigative report broadcast Monday evening on the Channel 10 program “Hamakor” (“The Source”).
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The report also claimed that Regev was personally involved in choosing which pictures of Netanyahu’s wife Sarah, would be printed.
The free daily newspaper, which began publication in 2007, is owned by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, a close associate of Netanyahu’s.
The report presented several examples of texts that reporters submitted to the paper in which they criticized Netanyahu or his policies. During editing, sentences were added that sided with Netanyahu or other coalition members, and the criticism was toned down or removed, according to the report.
One example was a column written last February by economic commentator Hezi Sternlicht about economic growth figures, under the headline, “The engine is racing, the train cars less so.” In the column, Sternlicht wrote, “Most of the publicisn’t benefiting from the lion’s share of the [economy’s] growth.”
The column was printed with a different headline, “Buying and crying,” and its lead paragraph read, “The growth statistics presented to the public are impressive by any measure. All the economists who spoke were left open-mouthed it seems that contrary to the media-orchestrated campaign that has prevailed here in recent weeks, it’s not so bad here.”
Israel Hayom, according to the report, also tried to attribute leftist political leanings to the initiators of the 2011 social-justice protests. Four reporters covered the weekend demonstrations on July 17, 2011, and not one of them used the words “against the occupation,” in their reports, according to “Hamakor.” Nevertheless, in the article that was printed, the following appeared: “The demonstrators, who also organized via Facebook, promised to increase the intensity of the various public struggles, including ‘against the occupation.’”
A former journalist at Israel Hayom was quoted as saying that the paper related to the social-justice protests “with absolute contempt. Regev’s outlook was that Daphni Leef should go out and find a job and stop driving everyone crazy.”
Apparently, the “Hamakor” report was filmed several months ago. Sources in the media say that Channel 10 didn’t want to air it until an arrangement between it and the state to assure its funding and the extension of its franchise was achieved.
In response to Channel 10's claims, Israel Hayom ran a column on Sunday claiming that Channel 10 is now being controlled by Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Noni Mozes, after his close associate, Rafi Ginat, was appointed director of the channel, and that Yedioth discriminates against Netanyahu in its coverage out of irrelevant considerations.
Israel Hayom and associates of Sheldon Adelson issued a statement which read, “the position of Israel Hayom was published today at length on pages 8-9 of the newspaper under the headline ‘Noni Mozes has his hands on Channel 10.’ Channel 10 viewers are welcome to read the whole article and other articles that will be published on this issue in the future.”
In another response that Israel Hayom sent to Channel 10, it wrote, “From the list of questions you submitted to us it seems that you are dealing with claims that are unfounded, groundless and slanderous. We are warning you that if the ‘Hamakor’ program or any other program includes statements that could be construed as libeling Israel Hayom, its editors and/or anyone acting on its behalf, Israel Hayom will view you and everyone responsible for such publicity as fully responsible for the libel, and will not hesitate to take any steps the law allows.”
The program stated that Regev was included on the guest list for Avner Netanyahu’s bar mitzvah in 2007, as was Gonen Ginat, the editor of Israel Hayom’s magazine.
Netanyahu’s appointments calendar shows that during the period before Israel Hayom was launched, Netanyahu met with Edelson six times, and during the paper's first five months in print, the two held another three meetings. According to the calendar, which was displayed on the program, Netanyahu met dozens of times with Regev and Natan Eshel, who was later named a vice-president at Israel Hayom.
The program stated that Israel Hayom discriminated against Tzipi Livni and the Kadima party. As one example, it showed a preliminary headline for an article on the Dichter bill (MK Avi Dichter's proposal stipulating that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people), which read “Livni to demand faction discipline against the Dichter Law”), but which Regev changed to “A storm in Kadima over the Dichter Law.”
In addition to Netanyahu, criticism of Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar and other senior Likud officials was also muted, according to “Hamakor.”
The former head of the Israel Police Investigations Division, Moshe Mizrahi, who wrote a column for the paper for three years, related on the air that “my columns gradually shrank, not in terms of quantity but in terms of interference, some of which stemmed from editing but some of which stemmed from actually changing the content, about which I had sharp disagreements and loud arguments with the editor Once in a while I’d get an apology, but when it kept happening I decided to give up.”
The program also displayed a special request made by the paper’s military reporter, Lilach Shoval: “In light of previous instances: Please don’t insert any sentences into my articles that I don’t know about without checking with me. In the end it’s my name on the article. Thank you.”