A Rare Sight on Israeli TV: Network Live Fact-checks Netanyahu's Misleading Speech

While Netanyahu blamed Gantz's party of violating the coalition agreement, Channel 13 News displayed on screen that it was Likud that breached the agreement by refusing to pass a biennial state budget

Itay Stern
Itay Stern
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Channel 13 News live fact-checks Netanyahu's speech, December 2, 2020.
Channel 13 News live fact-checks Netanyahu's speech, December 2, 2020.
Itay Stern
Itay Stern

An Israeli network provided live on-screen fact-checking during a speech by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, in an unusual move for local media.

A Channel 13 News official told Haaretz that instead of providing the viewers with fact-checking at the end of political speeches, it has taken another step towards "refining the facts in real-time," adding that the channel intends to continue presenting live fact checking to its viewers.

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Netanyahu, speaking following a preliminary Knesset vote to dissolve itself, falsely accused Benny Gnatz's party of violating the terms of their coalition agreement and therefore sending Israel to what would be its fourth election in two years.

While Netanyahu proclaimed that Gantz's Kahol Lavan breached the agreement, the network showed on screen that it was in fact Netanyahu's Likud that "violated provision 30 in the coalition agreement that stipulated passing a biennial state budget."

Channel 12 News addressed Netanyahu's claims only after the prime minister finished speaking. Journalist Keren Marciano referred to Netanyahu's claims regarding Israel's coronavirus death rate, saying that many countries similar to Israel in terms of population size are better tackling the coronavirus crisis.  

Marciano added that the populist demands to reopen the economy were made by Finance Minister Yisrael Katz and Education Minister Yoav Gallant of Likud, and not by Kahol Lavan as Netanyahu claimed. Political analyst Amnon Abramovich also addressed the Likud's violation of the coalition agreement as far as passing the state budget is concerned.

Public broadcaster Kan aired Netanyahu's speech in full and did not correct the prime ministers inaccuracies. News anchor Doria Lampel later turned to Kan's political analyst Michael Shemesh, who stated that Netanyahu's remarks reflect his future election campaign.

Journalist Yaron Deckel who went on air immediately after Netanyahu's speech was not quick to point out the prime minister's falsehoods, and mainly focused on political commentary.

Live fact-checking politicians' statements, customary in the United States, has seen a rise during Donald Trump's presidency, and particularly when he made unfounded claims of fraud on Election Day.

ABC, CBS and NBC all cut away from Trump as he spoke from the White House to make an unfounded accusation that the presidential election was being stolen from him.

Twitter flagged Trump's tweet alleging an effort to '"steal the election" as potentially misleading. Some of Trump's tweets were completely deleted.

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