Former Yedioth Editor: Itzik Got Positive Press

Labor MK Dalia Itzik received preferential coverage from the Yedioth Ahronoth daily during her tenure as communications minister, said Nir Bachar, the former editor of the newspaper's "Seven Days" supplement, in a lawsuit filed Sunday in the Tel Aviv Labor Court.

Bachar is contesting his dismissal from Yedioth in mid-December.

Bachar contended in the lawsuit that Yedioth editor Rafi Ginat made harsh and baseless accusations against him and against reporter Gidi Weitz after an article was published about Itzik's conduct during an attempted ouster of post office chief Yossi Shelly.

Bachar said Ginat later forbade him from publishing any more reaction pieces about the story.

Yedioth Ahronoth also gave Itzik the chance for a "compensation" interview in the Saturday supplement, designed to discredit the earlier investigative report into her conduct, Bachar said, at publisher Arnon Mozes' behest.

"This wasn't the first time during that period that the minister [Itzik] received preferential treatment from Yedioth Ahronoth," the lawsuit said.

Bachar also contended in the lawsuit that his coverage of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his son, Omri, practically led to him losing his job. Ginat and Mozes also took steps to reduce the prominence of an investigative report about efforts by the religious council to gain control over the premier and his son, Bachar said.

Ginat fired Bachar over a disagreement between the two over a story about the conduct of Eli Landau during his tenure as chief of the Israel Electric Corp. and an investigation into the relationship between money and political power in Israel. Bachar sued the newspaper, saying his termination was illegal, and demanded his job back, or NIS 1 million in damages.

The court has prohibited the newspaper, for now, from appointing a permanent successor to Bachar, and in the next two weeks the court is expected to hear testimony from Ginat.