Well, it turns out that both have a great deal in common. The Enquirer is fronting for a dirty politician who happens to be President of the United States. It does his dirty work, it pays off his ‘girls,’ it catches stories that will damage him and kills them, it flatters egos of dirty foreign potentates with whom he does business. Similarly, Israel HaYom is Sheldon Adelson’s gift to Bibi Netanyahu. It made him prime minister. It glorified him, it flattered him, it lied for him.
But the parallels go even deeper: just as Donald Trump may have used the Enquirer in his vendetta against Jeff Bezos and his Washington Post, so Netanyahu tried to negotiate a dirty deal with the publisher of Yediot Achronot. The latter was being stung by revenue losses due to Israel HaYom’s stealing its market share. Netanyahu, like Trump, hated the negative coverage that filled the pages of Yediot. He had a trump card up his sleeve. He told Arnon Mozes, Yediot’s publisher, that he would arrange for his competitor to cancel a daily edition of Israel HaYom in return for more favorable coverage in Yediot.
This is now what’s known in Israel as Case 2000. Though no deal was ever consummated, Netanyahu has been accused of extortion in this case; just as the Enquirer is being accused of the same crime regarding its treatment of Bezos. There are now four separate corruption cases against the prime minister. An indictment in any one of them (or more) could lead to his resignation and end of his political career.
It remains to be seen how the Bezos scandal will impact the Enquirer. Like Netanyahu, it stands on shaky ground since it just negotiated a grant of immunity with the Justice Department in which it promised not to break the law for the next three years. Apparently, CEO David Pecker can’t count since he appears to have broken it merely months after signing the agreement. Lucky for his paper the DOJ needs his testimony in cases involving Trump, otherwise it could put it out of business as a criminal enterprise masquerading as a legitimate newspaper. That may yet happen.
The MSNBC video above engages in some fascinating speculation about Trump’s possible involvement in the Bezos case. In his own statement exposing the Enquirer extortion attempt, Bezos implies that it was the Saudi’s obsession with shutting down criticism of crown prince Mohammed bin Salman that may have played a role in this matter. If true, that would likely mean that the Saudis obtained the material used in the blackmail attempt either by hacking Bezos phone or through some other nefarious means. Securing the text messages and embarrassing photos would enable them to kill two birds with one stone: they could silence the Post’s aggressive coverage of the Jamal Khashoggi murder; and they could do Donald Trump a huge favor by forcing the Post to offer more favorable coverage to his presidency.
Though none of the material Bezos released yesterday reveals that the Enquirer’s demands were that specific, it’s worth remembering that blackmailers don’t usually stop with a single demand. They being with one, then if the victim agrees they make further demands. I’m certain that if the Saudis were involved and colluded with the Enquirer, that this would have been the ultimate goal of this sordid affair.
It’s indicative of the deep hatred Trump and Netanyahu hold for their respective national media that they would engage in such sleazy criminal behavior; thus sabotaging a vigorous free press on behalf of their own personal agenda. In doing so, they tarnish the media by dragging it down into their own cesspool. There is an obvious benefit here: if the public can be persuaded to suspect the media and believe it’s as corrupt as their leaders. Then it won’t believe journalists who report on the scandals that riddle their respective administrations. This is especially important as Netanyahu faces his four corruption cases which could end his decades-long reign over Israeli politics; while Trump faces the looming prospect of major Congressional investigations and possible impeachment.