The Sad Reality of Israeli Papers' False Objectivism

Only in Israel do the newspapers force themselves to maintain false and artificial objectivity, which is nothing more than a way to avoid fulfilling an obligation.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse continue to gallop toward Armageddon's purple sunset. We can see them even from here despite the fire and smoke.

They're behaving insanely. One is a direct spokesman from God who is spreading His word, one carries the cross on his back, one will do his utmost to abandon those poor in spirit and material goods, and one will deny his past the most, burying it deep into the sand that is being thrown in people's eyes.

But there's no essential difference among them, so there's no permanent leader. Each week a different candidate takes up the reins. And this journey - sunstruck and moonstruck - will end only in August, in Tampa, Florida. It's hard to decide whose politics are more scorched and lunatic - theirs or ours. Maybe ours.

In any case, the wandering Republican circus is accompanied by the media. The candidates confront one another, and the media exalts or humiliates, recommends or rejects. Whatever the case, the press reveals its opinion; every newspaper adopts its favorite son. Although all Four Horsemen hate the media and attack it at every opportunity, they like receiving its support and will even proudly display it in public.

For example, this week in Michigan Mitt Romney boasted about the endorsement he received from two newspapers: the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press, which didn't keep their preference to themselves and published it as the lead editorial. And there are no exceptions: That's what they all do, every American or European newspaper that respects itself and its readers. And it's not a violation of objectivity, it's the exercising of judgment and public responsibility.

A media outlet worthy of its name and mission won't be satisfied with the role of the messenger, the scout and the observer; it will not waive its desire to shape public opinion. Even tabloids want to make a yellow-journalistic impression, not only the guardians of the seal like the The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Only in Israel do the newspapers force themselves to maintain false and artificial objectivity, which is nothing more than a way to avoid fulfilling an obligation. For them every day is Purim, and they wear the mask all year round. Why should they commit themselves, get into trouble and make enemies if they can put on a statesmanlike face and cover themselves with a cloak of "balance"? This cloak is only sacred here; in every decent place it's offensive.

Even if an Israeli newspaper wants to share its preferences with us, no room will be found in its pages and we'll be forced to read between the lines. The lead editorial disappeared a long time ago; this is the only newspaper that maintains it as a basic institution.

An editorial statement with a name behind it is liable to anger someone who will immediately cancel his subscription. And after all, for the owners, money talks. That's why it's better to maintain a balance, write for and against, and swing back and forth in the hammock of controversy. That way you get the best of both worlds, you fulfill your obligation to everyone without paying a debt to anyone.

The flatterers have candidates and viewpoints, they just hide behind the words; not necessarily for reasons of modesty, but out of condescension. In any case, it's enough to keep up with the page 1 headlines to know where the wind is blowing in one editorial board or where it will blow in another.

The obfuscation obliges me to make a confession: I actually prefer Israel Hayom. It's one big lead editorial. We know who God is, we know who His prophets are. Israel Hayom at least doesn't ask people to pay for it as a newspaper and is handed out free.

Read this article in Hebrew