TEL AVIV – Taking a leaf out of then-GOP candidate Donald Trump’s playbook, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has launched a Likud Party TV channel on Facebook, in what claims to be an attempt to “throw the ‘fake’ out of the news.”
The TV channel is aimed at convincing voters that the corruption allegations Netanyahu faces are nothing more than a witch hunt, and that he is the only worthy candidate to run the country.
The TV channel, which operates under the slogan, “We’re throwing the ‘fake’ out of the news,” will broadcast every evening on Netanyahu’s official Facebook page as well as a specially designated Likud TV page.
On Saturday evening, Netanyahu launched the channel with a funny clip featuring TV star Eliraz Sade.
“You’re asking me for positive coverage?” asks Sade according to a translation by The Times of Israel.
“Truthful coverage,” replies Netanyahu.
“But if I present truthful coverage, it might come out positive,” says Sade.
“Wow,” Netanyahu states, winking at the camera.
“You will present only what’s real and I’ll continue to make sure it’ll only be positive,” Netanyahu says.
“And what’s in it for me?” asks Sade.
“I’ll give you a like,” Netanyahu replies.
Sade then turns to the camera and says, “When all the stations are creating their own news, we’re here to tell you the truth.” To provide “positive coverage, that’s true.”
The end of the clip shows Netanyahu and Sade shaking their heads at the TV as a crime reporter announces that another investigation has been opened against the prime minister for giving Sade a “like.”
Opposition leader Shelly Yachimovich said the clip was not funny and showed that Netanyahu expected the media to be “obedient, castrated, humiliated, and fawning towards the leader. Without tough questions, without investigations, without confusing people about upright behavior and the rule of law.”
On Sunday, an over-sized billboard of the prime minister shaking hands with President Donald Trump was visible to tens of thousands of drivers on Tel Aviv’s main highway.
A similar giant poster also hangs at the entrance to Jerusalem.
The billboard reads, “Netanyahu. In a different league,” with the ruling party’s name “Likud” printed at the bottom.
Netanyahu is apparently riding on Trump’s popularity in Israel, largely the result of his administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the country’s capital and the subsequent transfer of the U.S. embassy there.
Netanyahu faces three investigations against him: The so-called Case 4000 involves Israeli telecommunications company Bezeq. The prime minister is accused of ordering that regulations on Bezeq be eased in return for the phone company’s chief shareholder Shaul Elovitch giving Netanyahu positive coverage on his news site Walla.
Case 1000 charges Netanyahu and his wife Sara with receiving illegal gifts from billionaire benefactors, including Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian businessman James Packer.
In Case 2000, Netanyahu is suspected of striking a deal with media mogul Arnon (Noni) Mozes whereby the premier would weaken the Sheldon Adelson-backed daily Israel Hayom in return for more favorable coverage in Mozes’ Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper. In his defense, Netanyahu said that he specifically voted against the law that would have weakened Israel Hayom, risking his political career in 2014 and calling new elections because of it.