“You must be sick of the all the other media outlets. So now here’s news from another angle, a more positive, true one,” said actor Eliraz Sade at the very beginning of his “interview” with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on the new Facebook TV channel launched by his Likud party. In other words, positive is truthful and what isn’t positive is necessarily a lie, according to the equation Sade posed to his viewers.
He then bore down on the prime minister with his first question, a real hardball one appropriate to the stature of the interviewee: “So, whaddaya think of the new studio? They say it’s like North Korea.” Netanyahu of course wasn’t caught off-guard: “It’s hard for them to accept the fact that there can be other voices… It drives them crazy that we can talk like we are doing now.”
The prime minister repeated and reiterated a number of variations on the theme – them, those, theirs; the others, the aliens, the invasion of the body snatchers. The enemy. And who was that? The media, of course. One might think, based on the sheer energy Netanyahu is investing in smearing the press, that it is vying against him in the election.
No choice could be more symbolic than Netanyahu's: that the one chosen to do the “truthful interview,” on the new Facebook channel, where there’s ostensibly no “fake” only “news,” would be Eliraz Sade – one of whose main claims to fame is participating in the reality show “Big Brother.”
It makes sense that a person who's willing to deliver himself to the control of a TV station, on a show that references the most famous metaphor of totalitarianism (George Orwell’s “1984”) – would find all sorts of thought police to be acceptable. Did Netanyahu deliberately play on that correlation, with Eliraz the graduate of "Big Brother"? Or was he just looking for a popular celeb who could attract younger voters?
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The main strategy of Netanyahu’s campaign, and so far there is only one, is to mark out the media as The Enemy; to present it as a sort of multiarmed monster whose output is one great big lie. Instead of confronting the claims against him, Netanyahu simply makes a pile of anybody and anything coming out against him – and strikes the match. The way he changes his style of speech to shape thinking, voiding one set of content and replacing it with another – this is actually an effective process that has been going on for years.
The establishment of the new Facebook TV channel, designated for broadcasting election propaganda, and cheekily presenting it as a purveyor of only true, non-fake news, is another step in that direction.
Theoretically, Netanyahu could have found somebody among the sycophants who've been kissing his feet in recent years to hold the “interview” and at least evoke a momentary illusion of a genuine interview, without inverted commas. But there aren’t enough inverted commas in the world to reflect the spins of spins of spins by means of which the premier has undermined reality, ethics and common sense and, as in Orwell’s book, created “newspeak.”
The main goal right now isn’t to distinguish between “truthful” media versus “fake” media – it’s to eradicate the whole lot.