Speed Reads

Things that make you go hmmmm

Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly negotiated with newspaper publisher for positive coverage

In 2014, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with the publisher of a newspaper that was often critical of him in order to work out a deal for positive coverage, Israeli media reports.

Israel's Channel 2 says Netanyahu was recorded while negotiating with Arnon Mozes, publisher of Yediot Aharonot. Netanyahu reportedly proposed helping the struggling newspaper out by slashing the circulation of its main competitor, Israel Hayom, and limiting that paper's weekend supplement. Israel Hayom is mostly supportive of Netanyahu, and is backed by American billionaire Sheldon Adelson, a major Republican Party donor and patron of Netanyahu. Channel 2 reports that the tape was recorded at the request of Netanyahu's former chief of staff, Ari Harrow, and it was found during an investigation of Harrow on suspicion of financial irregularities.

There is no evidence that any agreement came out of the meeting, but that it likely happened is enough to upset many. "We expect in a democratic country that the journalistic coverage will come from the editorial echelon, from the reporters, the editors — people who are driven by the public good and the supply of information," Prof. Rafi Mann of Ariel University in the West Bank told Israel Radio. Netanyahu, who has been questioned twice by police in the last week as part of a corruption probe, has long had a combative relationship with Israeli media outlets, and previously accused Mozes of orchestrating a "ridiculous campaign of slander" against him, The New York Times reports.