May 23, 2019

Netanyahu's Not-So-Secret Weapon

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has launched a Facebook television channel in a bid to fortify his constituency ahead of the critical decision by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit regarding his possible indictment. Not that Netanyahu lacks media outlets under his control. He has a freebie newspaper with a circulation in the hundreds of thousands (Israel Hayom), a TV station wholly dedicated to right-wing propaganda and Netanyahu support (Channel 20), and he has a loyal cadre of so-called “journalists” — some wholly lacking in skills or experience — in major media outlets. All ensure that his messages resonate clearly on all available platforms.

Netanyahu, however, wants more. Like his patron, Donald Trump, he can never get enough favorable coverage and flattery. Even if all the real journalists in Israel are silenced, Netanyahu will continue to feel persecuted.

On Feb. 2, Netanyahu’s Likud party launched its own online television channel from its historic Metzudat Ze’ev headquarters in Tel Aviv. BB-TV, as it has come to be known (the acronym is based on Netanyahu’s nickname, Bibi), includes a nightly “news” webcast anchored by a popular reality television survivor with no journalism experience, Eliraz Sade. The point of the webcast, says Netanyahu, is to wipe out the “fake news” industry directed by Israeli media against him. In fact, BB-TV is the ultimate in fake news. Netanyahu himself is the regular guest almost every evening. Obviously, he does not have to field hardball questions, only softball ones at which he is known to excel.”

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