Bowing to Public Pressure, TV Stations Yank Interviews With Rabin Assassin Yigal Amir

Television channels 2 and 10 bowed to public pressure and decided not to air interviews with Yigal Amir on Friday night, despite have run trailers for the interviews the day before.

The storm broke when Channel 10 ran a trailer of the interview with Amir, the murderer of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, at the beginning of its nightly news broadcast on Thursday. The trailer said that the full interview, compiled from hours of conversations between Amir and reporter Shelly Tapiro, would air Friday night.

Fifteen minutes later, Channel 2 broadcast a trailer for its own interview with Amir.

From the trailers, it appeared that both interviews were fairly similar: Amir said his decision to kill Rabin had been influenced by the views of politicians and public figures who "understand security," rather than by rabbis, and denied various conspiracy theories about the murder.

Shortly after the trailers aired, public complaints began pouring in. The next day, the three leading newspapers chimed in with editorials and news articles about the planned broadcast. Politicians from both left and right, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, objected to airing the interviews, as did members of the Rabin family. The Second Authority for Television and Radio, which supervises both stations, pressured them to cancel the broadcast, and at Channel 2, the CEO of its franchisee, Reshet, called to express his personal opposition to airing the interview.

Friday morning, Channel 2's news company announced that it had decided against airing the interview, though the channel's CEO, Avi Weiss, said that some members of the station's board of directors had favored running it. But Channel 10 initially appeared to be standing firm. It said that the interview would run, and would be preceded by a panel discussion with the senior journalists who had decided in favor of airing it.

But while the station said that it expected a stormy public response to this decision, it apparently underestimated just how strong the response would be. Virtually every member of its board of directors, including both the shareholders and the public representatives, objected to running the interview - though they themselves were never shown the clip.

As a result, the channel's CEO, Reudor Benziman, decided on Friday afternoon that the broadcast would be deferred until another discussion could be held on the subject, this time with members of the board. The likely outcome of this second discussion is that the interview will not be aired at all.

"We received authentic, emotional, outraged responses," Benziman said. "And that is definitely something that influenced our decision not to broadcast."

Nurit Dabush, chairwoman of the Second Authority's governing council, termed the cancelation "one of our greatest achievements as a public council."