Lawsuit: Yedioth Gave MK Dalia Itzik Preferential Coverage

Suit filed by ousted editor alleges that chief editor and publisher fired him illegally, protected Itzik.

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

Bachar was fired from his post at 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 about Itzik's conduct during an attempted ouster of post office chief Yossi Shelly.

Later, Bachar said, Ginat forbade him from publishing any more reaction pieces relating to this story.

Yedioth Aharonoth also gave Itzik the chance for a "compensation" interview in the Saturday supplement that was 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 'protection' from Yedioth Aharonoth," the lawsuit said.

Bachar also contended in the lawsuit that his coverage of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his son, Omri, practically led to his termination at the newspaper. 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.