Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s multi-million libel suit on the ’Bibi-tours reportage is only the latest chapter in a long history of media hate for the Prime Minister.
The media has been pounding away at Prime Minister Netanyahu ever since he was elected to his first time of office in the last 1990s, eking out a narrow victory over now President Shimon Peres.
Peres had gone to bed after the early results indicated victory was in his pocket, but a pre-dawn somersault of returns gave Netanyahu a victory of half a percentage point. Media analysts immediately charged that such a small margin of victory was questionable in a democratic state.
Last year, President Shimon Peres came to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s defense by criticizing the Israeli media for extensive coverage of a lawsuit against Sarah Netanyahu by a former employee who claimed she was “abused” and exploited” by the Prime Minister’s wife.
Foreign media also have been unkind to the Prime Minister, whose fluent English and communication skills often have vanquished questioners. During the Second Lebanon War in 2006, he traveled to Britain to speak up for Israel during the Olmert administration. Confronted by David Frost with a question about Israel’s killing civilians during the fighting, Netanyahu suggested, “You really don’t want to go down that road.”
Frost insisted, and Netanyahu reminded viewers of a British aerial strafing in World War II that killed dozens of civilians. A silenced Frost quickly switched the subject.
After the Goldstone Report defamed Israel for alleged war crimes in the Operation Cast Lead, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer grilled Netanyahu, although he was not Prime Minister at the time of Cast Lead.
Blitzer refused to accept Netanyahu’s explanation that Israel had been under attack for more than eight years by missiles from Gaza, evacuated citizens and soldiers from the area but continued to come under even worse attacks.
Blitzer said, “You killed a lot of civilians,” and Netanyahu replied, “We tried to get at the rocketers, those terrorists firing those missiles and rockets who placed themselves, embedded themselves in homes and schools and mosques, and you name it.”
Blitzer answered, "All right.”
In Israel, mainstream media also dealt roughly and one-sidedly roughly with Netanyahu while treating other party leaders with kid gloves. During one episode in another campaign, Netanyahu was recorded telling Likud supporters that the media are afraid of the Likud party's popularity. He repeated in cadence, “They are afraid,” receiving a thunderous echo from his backers.
The recording was played over and over against on Voice of Israel government radio, whose analysts compared it to a Nazi-like chant that could be viewed as illegal incitement.
In a totally unrelated but parallel ploy, Voice of Israel several years ago accused the Israel Meteorological Bureau of scaring the public by predicting a blizzard three days ahead of time. The radio channel repeatedly broadcast the forecast and then suggested to the forecasters that they were to blame for causing a panic.