It’s Right-wing Journalists Who Failed Israel During the Election Campaign

Which model is better: a reporter who wants the right to win but conceals his views, or a reporter who acknowledges his preference and then reports on the facts?

Raviv Drucker
Raviv Drucker
Confetti falls in front of a poster of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during early celebrations, after the announcement of exit polls in Israel's parliamentary elections, March 17, 2015, Tel Aviv.
Confetti falls in front of a poster of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during early celebrations, after the announcement of exit polls in Israel's parliamentary elections, March 17, 2015, Tel Aviv.Credit: AFP
Raviv Drucker
Raviv Drucker

As one of those detached and arrogant people and a member of the Tel Aviv bubble, I’m still in mourning. I’m having trouble crafting a real opinion piece — my thoughts on the electionare still in their early stages.

Okay, so we’re detached. We haven’t understood how much the people love Benjamin Netanyahu, but even the prime minister thought until 8 P.M. election night that he was losing. In conversations before the election, cabinet members from Likud were talking about the resounding defeat that Netanyahu’s party was about to experience, detached as they were too.

Meanwhile, the television critic for Haaretz’s Hebrew edition wrote that this detachment wouldn’t happen to Channel 2’s (excellent) political reporter Amit Segal. He has contacts with the settlements, with the people.

But Segal forecast that Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni’s Zionist Union would win the election with four more Knesset seats than Likud. And results from 11 opinion polls released four to five days before the vote also projected a four-seat lead for Herzog, on average. Not a single poll predicted anything else. What a bunch of arrogant souls.

It turns out that this detachment and arrogance not only prevented us from predicting the election, it led to Zionist Union’s defeat. Zionist Union conducted an arrogant campaign that focused on problems that didn’t interest Likud strongholds in the boonies: housing, the cost of living and the elderly, while Likud on touched the source of their daily angst: Iran, the Islamic State and the Arabs on the borders.

In addition, the argument goes, Livni and Herzog are Ashkenazis from well-off families, while you’d think Netanyahu and top ministers Moshe Ya’alon and Yuval Steinitz got here from Poland with only the shirts on their backs. Then there’s the argument that “the media campaign against Bibi backfired.” It’s as if Netanyahu and his views were flagrantly barred from the media.

Actually, Netanyahu spoke to the media for 1,450 minutes during the campaign’s last week – 24 hours. His opponent spoke half that time, according to the Yifat media research firm.

Meanwhile, Channel 2 News broadcast a short improvised debate between Herzog and Netanyahu three days before the election. In the broadcast, Herzog looked like an insect compared to Netanyahu, whose Big Brother image was projected against a large backdrop.

Since Election Day, journalists who support the prime minister have been rejoicing in their colleagues’ misfortune. For the thousandth time in the Maariv daily, Kalman Liebeskind has taken the leftist media to task. It gives him lifetime employment.

It was all right for journalist Erel Segal to be No. 11 on the Likud slate for a second and a half and then return to his broadcasting career as if nothing had happened. Hanoch Daum can boast of his friendship with Netanyahu and still sit on respectable political panels, where he will complain that the right-wing view isn’t heard. Yinon Magal and Sharon Gal can transition from working in the media to becoming candidates for right-wing parties without a day’s cooling-off period. That’s all okay.

And the political reporter for Channel 2 took exception to reporters who opposed Netanyahu on Twitter. Join a party already and be done with it, he said.

With some circumspection, I would imagine that Segal votes for the right-wing Habayit Hayehudi party. I’d also guess he has very strong thoughts and feelings about this. Which model is better for the viewer: a reporter who wants the right to win but conceals his views, or a reporter who acknowledges his preference and then reports on the facts?

During a commercial that long election night, after the right-wingers had finished lamenting that the media wanted Netanyahu to lose — as if that were a crime against humanity — a few of us went out for a chat. Kobi Arieli said that “unlike you guys,” Daum and Arieli know what’s happening in the Netanyahu household. And he said the problem was “a hundred times more serious than you think.”

I responded: “Great — on the air you brutally attack us and here you’re saying this.” Arieli made a face that seemed to say: “You know what would happen to me if I told the truth on the air.” I wondered whether it was better to stick with the losers who tell the truth on the air or go with the winners who talk during the commercials.

Raviv Drucker is a reporter for Channel 10 television.

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