Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The hypocrisy of Yedioth Ahronoth

Despite having loyally served Yedioth Ahronoth for many years, the paper decided to lambaste Israel Hayom Foreign News Editor Boaz Bismuth for being offered a position by the Prime Minister's Office. Why?

Noni Mozes, the publisher of Yediot Ahronoth, has seemingly lost control
Photo credit: Yehoshua Yosef
Three journalists from one newspaper were given senior positions at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office. These were positions of trust, by definition -- trust between the prime minister and them. These were positions given without public tender.
The first individual was Nir Hefetz, a former editor of the Yedioth Ahronoth weekend supplement "7 Days." He was designated to run the office's information directorate. The second was Yoaz Hendel, a columnist at Yedioth Ahronoth, who was appointed to replace Hefetz. The third was Roni Sofer, a political correspondent at Ynet, Yedioth Ahronoth's website. He became one of the prime minister's spokespeople.

And yet, on Tuesday, a headline in Yedioth Ahronoth's page 16 proclaimed that "Netanyahu and [Israel Hayom correspondent Boaz] Bismuth have complete trust in each other." The sub-headline read: "The prime minister intended to hire without tender Boaz Bismuth of the freebie Israel Hayom to serve as the project manager for the expulsion of infiltrators."
It's true, the job was in fact offered to Boaz Bismuth -- our foreign news editor -- two years ago. He considered it and politely turned down the offer. Bismuth never went to work at the Prime Minister's Office. He preferred to stay at his job, as a journalist.
So why did Yedioth Ahronoth furiously attack him yesterday, attempting to mar his journalistic integrity? The answer is that Arnon [Noni] Mozes, who publishes the paper, has seemingly lost control. Why? Because his bets have failed: Ehud Olmert is outside the government, Gabi Ashkenazi was ousted, Danny Dankner is out, and Nochi Dankner has also just been ousted. The empire built during the reign of Noni's deceased father is continuing to disintegrate.
Defaming Bismuth alone fails to satisfy Yedioth Ahronoth, of course. Israel Hayom is also fair game. It calls us a "freebie" -- though Yedioth is itself handed out for free throughout the country on college campuses, at gas stations, train stations, supermarkets and fruit and vegetable stalls. The paper has tried to breathe new life into old tricks, auctioning off cars, for example. Once, Yedioth hardly advertised in other publications, staying just within its own pages. Now, it advertises on the radio, on television and everywhere else.
Apparently, Yedioth is pining for the good old days, the days when it pulled the strings and lorded over the state; when it was easy to whisper in the ears of the prime minister, ordering around ministers and members of Knesset.
Someone came along and interfered with their system: Benjamin Netanyahu, who, unlike his predecessors, never worked for Mozes. For others, Mozes ruled with the carrot and the stick. But to deal with Netanyahu, he only goes for the stick.
Business daily Globes broke the story on Sunday -- by the way, Globes' owner is a substantial shareholder in Yedioth Ahronoth -- publishing the contract offered to Bismuth. And, lest you forget, Bismuth never signed the contract. For the record, that was just one of several offers Bismuth turned down over the last several years -- talented people after all get lots of offers. The contract reflected certain ideas raised among government officials on how to solve the infiltrators issue, attempting to transfer them to African nations that agreed to take them. It was not Bismuth's idea. He did not write the contract in question. (Of course, this goes without saying that the infiltration issue needs to be settled already.)
So what was the goal in breaking the story? Yes, it was meant to smear Netanyahu, slam Israel Hayom and sully Bismuth. For two days, Yedioth Ahronoth showed restraint, not citing the Globes report. Indeed, the newspaper intentionally avoided explicitly mentioning Israel Hayom by name. But on that same Sunday, news also broke that Israel Hayom had bought its own printing press, and another one of Mozes' bets was shattered. He most likely assumed that this would never happen, that Israel Hayom would have a stake in Israel's limited printing industry. Well, we have a printing press now; our capabilities have been vastly upgraded.
Mozes is seemingly under the gun, and when he's under pressure, he loses all inhibition. Bismuth, one of the nation's most gifted journalists, faithfully served Yedioth Ahronoth. On their dispatch, he traveled to Iran and Syria, Iraq and Libya. But now that he represents Israel Hayom, successfully and respectfully, he is fair game.
And that's the hypocrisy of Yedioth Ahronoth. When we called the paper "the evil empire of Noni Mozes" for the first time, some people thought we were being bombastic. But after the so-called article written yesterday against Bismuth, it turns out we were being quite level-headed. Perhaps too level-headed.

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