Wednesday April 23, 2014
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23.04.2014
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Amos Regev

Channel 10 wallows in hypocrisy

When Israel Hayom entered the scene, it shattered the monopoly that existed in Israel's journalism market, and for the last three years it has topped the semi-annual TGI survey as the most widely read newspaper in the country. Arnon (Noni) Mozes' newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth has lost its hegemony, but it hasn't abandoned the ways of the past, and is still trying to restore the power to corrupt — power it has lost. The public is already wise to it, but the journalistic in-crowd is still going at it, amongst themselves.

It was against this backdrop that Channel 10 aired its Israel Hayom "exposé" on the show "Hamakor" ("The Source") on Monday. If host Raviv Drucker's aim had been to do real journalistic work, he would have bothered to run a comparison with all the media outlets: Yedioth Ahronoth, Maariv, Haaretz, Channel 2 and yes, Channel 10 as well. He should have examined everyone's agendas and views, and compared the results.

Instead, Drucker opted for the old familiar way of doing things: Attacking us from the particular standpoint that is so prevalent among the journalistic in-crowd. That is, everything that they do is true and just, and everything that we do is necessarily biased and wrong. Drucker didn't investigate, he staged a "press review" type program, which he apparently based on pieces of paper that were physically collected from Israel Hayom trash bins by an employee who was later fired in disgrace. That same former employee had tried to offer his wares to other media outlets, and was categorically rejected. Apparently Drucker has his own reasons for accepting this garbage-can material and presenting it in a very tendentious way. Drucker also interviewed one or two employees who apparently stole content from company computers, and are no longer employed by Israel Hayom.

Drucker's main point was that the editor-in-chief is overly involved in the content of the newspaper. This argument suggests that Drucker doesn't know, or chooses to willfully ignore, the job description of an editor-in-chief. The editor-in-chief is responsible for the content in his publication. It is his right; it is his duty. Furthermore, the law dictates that the editor is responsible for every last word that is printed or said. He is responsible for every headline, every story, every photo.

With responsibility comes authority. It is fully within the editor-in-chief's authority to set the tone. Of all people, Drucker chose to interview Hanoch Marmari, former editor-in-chief of Haaretz, as a professional expert on the subject. Let us recall what Marmari wrote on April 15, 2004, in Haaretz, quoting his predecessor Gershom Shocken: "A newspaper's freedom of expression belongs to the editor, no one else." Marmari's interpretation of that remark was that "the editor can decide what is fit to print and it is within his direct authority to delete journalistic material so that it complies with the boundaries of collective freedom of expression, as he defines them." Well said.

The hypocrisy and double standards that permeate the "Hamakor" program were very obvious on Monday night. Two of Drucker's regular co-hosts over the years have abandoned their journalistic duties and rushed to enter Israeli politics — Ofer Shelah joined Yesh Atid (There is a Future) and Micky Rosenthal joined Labor. On Tuesday they will both be sworn in as brand new members of Knesset, and we wish them all the success in the world. But does anyone really believe that they formulated their political views only after quitting journalism? What does their clear leaning toward the Center-Left say about the journalistic slant that colored their investigations and opinions while they were hosting a news investigations program? According to Drucker, he began his Israel Hayom investigation 18 months ago, right around the time the aforementioned disgraced employee was fired. So what happened now, I wonder, to prompt him to air the investigation, one week after Rafi Ginat, a very close friend of Noni Mozes', was appointed CEO of Channel 10?

Drucker constructed his show as an argument against our so-called agenda, especially surrounding reports about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. We approached Ifat, a leading Israeli information analysis and processing company, and we commissioned a report about "Hamakor." The findings indicate that since it first went on the air in May 2009, the program has mentioned Netanyahu in a way that evaluated his performance 57 times. Of those 57 times, Netanyahu was evaluated negatively 40 times, or 70 percent of the time. The evaluation was neutral in 23% of time and only 7% of the mentions were positive. "Since 2009, The program 'Hamakor' has adopted the most critical stance against Netanyahu," the report stated.

Obviously, Drucker has every right to adopt this approach. But when "Hamakor" assumes a facade of objectivity and criticizes political, social and economic views that are different than the show's own while making accusations against others, that is pure hypocrisy. It takes one to know one, as they say. It was enough just to see former MK Haim Ramon lamenting the fact that, unlike Netanyahu, he doesn't "have a newspaper." Really? Is Yedioth Ahronoth not enough for him?

The examples that were presented in the program were a collection of random and one-sided evidence — because that is all the evidence that one employee managed to dredge up from the garbage bin. If Drucker wants to base his entire argument on a few pieces of paper collected from the trash by an employee, who was caught, confessed and was consequently fired — power to him. As far as we are concerned, he can offer that former employee a job at "Hamakor." He may as well hire his colleagues — who stole content off our computers — as well.

To the point: This so-called evidence doesn't prove anything other than the routine workings of a news organization. We don't print every story, there is an ongoing dialogue between editors and reporters, changes are made. That is called editing. That is precisely why the editors exist, and why they are supervised by an editor-in-chief. When a reporter is sent to Jaljulia, an Israeli-Arab town near Kfar Saba, and he comes back with a story that has nothing to do with the fresh incident involving a group of young locals suspected of beating a random person to death in front of his family, that story has no room in our paper. It is up to the editor to make such judgment calls, and it is the editor's full right to reject a story. Ultimately, the paper or broadcast is put to the test by the readers or viewers. We already explained: Israel Hayom is meant for the public, not for the journalism in-crowd.

There is not enough room on this page to address every one of Drucker's bizarre and delusional claims. Drucker does not like Israel Hayom, and that is his prerogative. Despite everything, in spite of everything, we will continue to do our work to the best of our ability, we will continue being an Israeli newspaper, and we will continue believing wholeheartedly that it is our right to do so. Freedom of speech is a crucial value. It is loftier, more important and far nobler than the version of it perpetuated by the journalism in-crowd. In their version, freedom of speech means the freedom to think like them, and only like them.

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