The Israeli Media Is Out to Get Trump
If you asked most Israelis, they’d say they never really liked or trusted Barack Obama. But if you asked most Israelis today, they’d say they like Donald Trump. This is one of the things that separates Israel’s people from Israel’s press corps.
If you watch Channel 2’s Arad Nir or Channel 10’s Gil Tamari, or listen to any of the anchors on Israel TV or Israel Radio, you will discover that they not only despise Donald Trump (and pine for Obama), but think he is mentally ill, antisemitic, or both.
These are the same press outlets that believed that Trump could never win. In fact, on election eve, many Israeli pundits cited two-week-old polls by Reuters showing Hillary Clinton beating Trump by 15% or more. They ignored more up-to-date polls from Gallup, Rasmussen and the Los Angeles Times showing that Trump had a real chance to become president.
And now, despite the fact that Trump’s inner circle is full of Jews, even religious and Zionist Jews, these Israeli pundits still suspect that Trump is personally antisemitic.
“He is surrounded by people and by advisers who are antisemites,” asserted Arad Nir on Channel 2, without a shred of evidence.
When Trump later condemned the antisemitic desecration of graves in St. Louis, after an initial silence — and even sent Vice President Mike Pence to condemn the attack and personally help clean up the desecration, it “was not enough,” according to Nir.
A few days later, on February 26, Nir highlighted the fact that President Trump decided to stay away from the White House Correspondents’ dinner, where the president and the reporters make jokes about one another.
Many “progressive” journalists say that Trump is crude and thin-skinned, even deeply hostile to the press. But I believe, despite acts such as banning some press outlets from recent press briefings, that Trump has been more open — much more open — to press access and interchange than any president or presidential candidate in recent years.
President Obama rarely held press conferences. Hillary Clinton avoided the press for nearly an entire year, preferring to keep them behind barricades. Obama liked to sit down with late-night talk hosts, such as David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel or Jimmy Fallon, or the sycophants on talk shows like The View.
And yes, Trump has certainly been crude at times, and he has shown a thin skin, but so have other presidents, including Democrat presidents, though Nir and most of the American and Israeli leftists would prefer not to remember that.
President Truman threatened to attack a reporter who panned his daughter’s music career, and Obama regularly whined about Fox News and “talk radio,” encouraging his supporters to confront them.
But Trump has a better case for his claims that much of the press is hostile, particularly CNN and The New York Times, due to stories they published about alleged Russian influence in the US election that sometimes contained leaked information from US intelligence agencies.
Many polls show that most Americans think Trump is right, and that the press is out to get him. Indeed, some polls indicate that they trust him to tell the truth more than the press. One Fox poll this month showed 45% of respondents trusted Trump to tell the truth, compared to 42% that trusted the press more. The same poll showed that 68% thought the press treated Trump more harshly than Obama.
So if you want to hear or watch CNN in Hebrew or read The New York Times with a leftist Israeli accent, just tune in to Israel’s mass media. But don’t be surprised when they get it wrong.
Dr. Michael Widlanski specializes in political communication, teaching at Bar Ilan and Hebrew University and as a visiting professor at Washington University in St. Louis. He is also a former reporter at The New York Times, Cox Newspapers, Israel TV and Israeli Armed Forces Radio. He is the author of Battle for Our Minds: Western Elites and the Terror Threat (Simon and Schuster).