Israel's media in the dock.
Israel's media in the dock.

Israel's top journalists are betraying the public by covering for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as he leads Israel to disaster, according to leading investigative journalist Yoav Yitzchak, who operates Nfc, an independent website. Yitzchak claimed the Olmert bureau was instrumental in helping some of the journalists get an audience with U.S. President Bush, and received sympathetic coverage durring Bush's visit in return.

Yitzchak, who earned a reputation as a leading investigative reporter in daily newspaper Maariv before opening his own news operation, listed the names of the journalists who he says are complicit in the ongoing cover-up. These include Yoel Marcus, veteran commentator for Haaretz; Ayala Hason, the top political correspondent for Channel 1 TV and a presenter on Voice of Israel radio; Ben Caspit, a high-profile columnist for Maariv, author and TV show host; Nachum Barnea and Shimon Shiffer, the two veteran political reporters and commentators for leading daily Yediot Acharonot, as well as Udi Segal and Amnon Abramovich, political reporter and commentator, respectively, for Channel 2 TV.

Together, the list of newsmen covers almost all of Israel's top news sources.

Yonit Levy. Interviewed President Bush.


The journalists "are willingly complicit in Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's efforts to survive, politically and personally," Yitzchak wrote. They serve as the Olmert bureau's de-facto spokesmen, he added, and are actively engaged in the production of a fake picture of reality which Olmert is deceitfully manufacturing, while the truth is quite simple.

Bush interview with Olmert's help

Yoel Marcus, he said, began praising Olmert and asking his readers not to support Olmert's replacement by another politician, after receiving a personal audience with Olmert. Just a few weeks earlier, explained Yitzchak, Marcus demanded that Olmert be dragged out of office because of his failures in the Second Lebanon War and his corruption.

Yediot Acharonot and Channel 2 received personal interviews with President Bush, with the intercession and encouragement of Olmert's bureau

Shiffer and Barnea of Yediot Acharonot, as well as Channel 2's Yonit Levy, received personal interviews with President Bush, with the intercession and encouragement of Olmert's bureau, Yitzchak accused. In return Olmert received gushing praise from these news outlets during the course of the last week.

Yitzchak said it was possible that the journalists are not just after their own gain, but think that by helping Olmert they are "protecting" the public from elections in which Likud head Binyamin Netanyahu would take power, a possibility they detest. Even so, he noted, this would constitute taking sides and manipulation of the general public.

'A serious political and public scandal'

Olmert and President George W. Bush's pretense to carry on diplomatic negotiations with the PA, including the "core issues," and end it within the course of a single year, stands no chance of success, Yitzchak explained. "Anyone can understand this, even a spineless newsman/commentator," he said, adding that "the fact that Olmert is committing himself, both diplomatically and politically, as Prime Minister and in the name of the government, to give up parts of Jerusalem and end the negotiations within one year, is a serious political and public scandal."

"The fact that Olmert does not heed principles regarding terror that were set in government decisions… and the fact that the news media do not cover this in a harsh way, show that the media is failing to do its job," Yitzchak accused. The media, he claimed, does not report critically on the fact that Olmert is pretending to negotiate with "a PA that represents the entire Palestinian people, while it is well known that Abu Mazen barely represents half of the Palestinian population (with the other half represented by Hamas)."

The journalists and commentators in the media, according to Yitzchak, "are not giving proper expression and volume to Olmert's opponents, including those inside the Kadima faction."

Olmert's 'court journalists'

When the truth regarding the futility of the negotiations becomes apparent to the Arab residents of Judea and Samaria, Yitzchak speculated, it stands to reason that they will feel cheated. They could react to this by renewing the terror and a "third intifada." If and when this happens, he added, Olmert's "court journalists" will not be able to undo the damage they wrought, even if they act to chase Olmert ou

The journalists "are willingly complicit in Olmert's efforts to survive, politically and personally."

t of office.

Yitzchak's article does not include reactions from the journalists named or from Prime Minister Olmert.

Yitzchak was instrumental in exposing the "house on Cremieux Street" scandal, which led to a police investigation against Prime Minister Olmert on suspicion of receiving a bribe. He has also been involved in acrimonious disputes with other journalists, and was fired from Maariv by its previous editor, Amnon Dankner. His past exposes led to the resignation of a justice minister (Yaacov Ne'eman, in 1996. He was later completely acquitted of the charges against him) and a president (Ezer Weizmann, in 2000).