This week I met with a friend who is a respected and influential cultural woman, extremely intelligent and curious. After the personal updates, we slid into politics and quickly realized that we wouldn't get out of it, not because of course we don't agree – that's what I'm used to – but because we simply don't have the same facts. To be precise, not all the facts before me, as one who is connected to Twitter and follows journalists from both the left and the right, are also in front of my friend, who feeds only on mainstream channels.
Here's an example: My friend had no idea about Project 315. For the benefit of those readers who also don't know what it's all about, 315 is a voluntary project set up by ordinary citizens, in which 315 "coverage events" on the Walla website were examined, on which the State Attorney's Office relied in an attempt to establish an offense of bribery in the relationship between Benjamin Netanyahu and the site's owner, Shaul Elovitch. The killing of this bribery offense (and this too is a global precedent) is not money, but "favorable coverage and exceptional response" to Netanyahu's demands.
What did the good citizens do? Go through all the articles in question and see if they are indeed sympathetic to Netanyahu or not. You can judge the outcome for yourself on the Project 315 website. The judges' repeated attempts over the past week to persuade the sides to reach a compromise are enough to understand that there is apparently no chance of convicting Netanyahu of bribery on the basis of this "favorable coverage."
But it is not Netanyahu's trial that is the issue, but the astonishing fact that the facts on the issue, which is at the heart of the longstanding rift among the people, simply do not reach the public's attention. How does this happen? The answer was given last week by the CEO and founder of the Public Broadcasting Corporation, Eldad Koblenz, who admitted on the "Patriots" program on Reshet Bet – Israel's most listened to current affairs station – that "there is almost no expression of conservative voices" and that "this is a glitch."
Such malfunctions can only happen in public broadcasting. When biased coverage occurs in private media outlets such as Channel 12, 13 or 14, Haaretz or Makor Rishon, this is not a mishap but a policy. Therefore, these media outlets do not threaten Israeli democracy, but strengthen it. They contain the verse "Tell me who your husbands are, and I will tell you who you are and what you will never tell me."
When the media is in private hands, you know what position each of them is coming from and you can flick between them and build a picture of the world for yourself. It's the same in the United States, which by all accounts is considered a democracy. Want to see the world through your left eye? Look at CNN. Through the right eye? Fox News is at your service. Want to go around the world as much as possible with your eyes open? Buzz between them.
But in our places there is public broadcasting that instills in citizens the illusion that it is "objective," because they are the ones who fund it. It is precisely such a broadcast that is prone to problematic "mishaps" of the kind that Koblenz confessed, and therefore problematic "repairs" are also taking place, as is happening now on Army Radio. The question arises - who needs it? Leave current affairs broadcasts in private hands, and we will also pay less for public broadcasting and will know each time from which direction exactly we are being turned.
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