While there are myriad stories recounting the assault against democracy in Israel, none is more important evident than the emasculation of the Israeli press. While it has always been subject to censorship on matters related to national security, the pressure against honest, courageous reporting has mounted to alarming proportions. In this light, one of Israel’s best known reporters with a decidedly right-wing (but anti-Bibi) slant, Ben Caspit, wrote this in today’s column:
If someone today brought credible, troubling information which could cause the fall of the prime minister, and which would seek a reporter or media outlet to publish it, would he find one? Answer: I’m not certain. Very few such outlets would agree to publish such a story. There are, here and there, a few last shreds of opposition [to the government's attempt to silence the press], but they are growing less and less.
Another question: say such a source only brings the thread of a story, which requires doing further exhaustive research in order to confirm the information which was likely to result in the fall of the prime minister. Is there a journalist who would raise the gauntlet and do the work? Answer: I fear not. Yes, it’s that bad. The government media outlets are in a bad way. They’re [the government] trying to close Channel 10. They’ve already sentenced it to death. The print media is fast weakening and the flame has already gone out there. Galey Tzahal [Armed Forces Radio] has already been decimated by the defense minister. What’s left? Not much. Hard to believe, but it’s a fact.
For some time already the media in Israel has abrogated its responsibility to tell the public what’s really happening between the walls of the prime minister’s home and office. Even I, who’s attempted to assume the burden, am not what I once was.
If this isn’t an abject confession of personal and institutional failure I don’t know what is. But at least Caspit is being candid, unlike the majority of reporters who go their merry way as if nothing was wrong, reporting what their masters (er, sources) feed them.
I remind you that I reported two days ago that Netanyahu threatened revocation of the license of any media outlets that reported the Forbes Israel story ranking the wealth of Knesset members. The only one to report the story as far as I know has been Channel 10, the very one given a death sentence by Bibi. Mako and Globes both took down their stories from their websites. Many, including liberal readers and media types, have doubted my source on this. All I can say, is that Ben Caspit further reinforces the credibility of this report.
Only in an authoritarian nation or one fast moving down this road, can the media be so intimidated and emasculated.