Netanyahu Attacks Israeli Media as an 'Industry of Despair'

The media 'does not reflect what the public feels,' the prime minister says, adding the he doesn’t want to damage the free press, just to spur competition.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Prime Minister's Office last month.
Olivier Fitoussi

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used the opportunity of a Passover holiday toast at the Prime Minster’s Office to launch another attack against reporters and media, whom he called an “industry of despair."

The prime minister spoke against the backdrop of his continuing battle over public broadcasting in Israel, and petitions filed with the High Court of Justice on Tuesday challenging a plan worked about by Netanyahu and Finance Minister Kahlon that is to strip the new public broadcaster known as Kan of its news division.

“I’ll tell you what I see in the media,” Netanyahu said. “It isn’t varied enough. It does not reflect what the public feels. This is an industry of despair. Where they see unemployment, I see full employment. Where they see a ruined economy, I see a flourishing economy. Where they see traffic jams, I see junctions, trains, bridges. Where they see hesitation and lack of confidence, I see firmness and extraordinary intensity, which radiates to our entire vicinity. Where they see a state in collapse, crumbling, I see Israel rising as a world power.”

The prime minister added that he doesn’t want to damage the free press, just to spur competition in it.

“The media in Israel is free and will stay free,” Netanyahu said. “If you turn on the television or open the newspapers, there are usually things written about me it makes you laugh. Sure, it doesn’t make me laugh. But that is life in a democracy. I would like there to be more competition, more variety, more pluralism. The last thing we want is the opposite of that."