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Over 2/3 of Jews Say Press was Biased on Shalit, Tent Protest

Poll results revealed in stormy debate on press slant at 9th Jerusalem Conference.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 2/28/2012, 3:08 PM

Uzi Baruch, Yaakov Achimeir
Uzi Baruch, Yaakov Achimeir
Nissim Lev

A poll has found that over two thirds of the Israeli public thinks press coverage of two major stories – the deal for releasing Gilad Shalit and the housing protest – was biased. The poll was revealed at a stormy panel on press bias at the 9th Jerusalem Conference, sponsored by B'Sheva Magazine.

The poll was carried out among Jews by Maagar Mochot for the Jerusalem Conference. It found that 69 percent of those who have an opinion on the matter think that the media covered the Shalit prisoner exchange in a way that was biased in favor of the deal. Twenty-seven percent said the coverage was professional and objective.

Of those with an opinion on the matter, 65 percent said the press covered the summer's housing protest in Tel Aviv in a way that was biased in favor of the protest. About 32 percent said the coverage was professional and objective.

Arutz Sheva website's editor in chief, Uzi Baruch, who spoke at the panel, said that during the tent protest, press hypocrisy was more blatant than ever. "The tents in Rothschild Avenue are no more legal than the outposts in Judea and Samaria that are evicted in the dead of night," he explained – yet the press that demonized the outpost residents lionized the housing protesters.

"The press channels were the ones who ran the tent protest," he said. However, in the end, the media lost out because the social protests led to economic slowdown and a loss of advertising revenues – making press-hyped protests less likely in the future.

The coverage of "women's exclusion," he added, was nothing more than "targeted assassination" against the hareidi religious sector. "Since when does the secular sector care about what happens on hareidi buses? This is one big hoax."

Channel 2's Amit Segal disagreed with Baruch. "There is no leftist conspiracy," he said. Segal blamed fellow religious Zionists for failing to join the mainstream media and said sector-based media outlets cannot offer a solution to mainstream media slant.

Maariv's Kalman Libeskind said that the press purposely inflated the numbers of the participants in the summer's protests and "knowingly published false data." In addition, he said, "everyone knew" that the mothers-with-strollers demonstration was led by communist activists but purposely hid this from the public.