Israeli TV journalist becomes a thorn in Netanyahu’s side
After a series of embarrassing reports about Israel’s first family, an investigative journalist has become a particular target of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Raviv Drucker of Channel 10 TV has been a longtime thorn in Netanyahu’s side, exposing several scandals about the Israeli leader. In return, Netanyahu has berated him, sued him and even reportedly tried to get him fired. But Drucker has kept at it, and two of his recent stories have triggered police investigations. First, he broke the story that Netanyahu’s personal attorney had represented a German company involved in a $1.5 billion sale of submarines to Israel, raising questions about the prime minister’s possible involvement.
Then, he reported that Australian billionaire James Packer has lavished Netanyahu’s college-aged son, Yair, with gifts that included extended stays at luxury hotels in Tel Aviv, New York and Aspen, Colorado, the use of his private jet and dozens of tickets for concerts by Packer’s former fiancee, Mariah Carey. Packer, who also owns a home next to Netanyahu in the prosperous coastal community of Caeserea, is reportedly seeking Israeli residency status for tax purposes.
Netanyahu did not dispute any of the facts but insists he has done nothing wrong. The reports led the prime minister, who frequently complains about media coverage of him and his family, to accuse Drucker of waging an ideologically driven smear campaign.
“The desperate, pathetic attempt of the politician Raviv Drucker to slander the prime minister with a never-ending drip of lies and brainwashing is aimed toward a character assassination of the prime minister and his family. This is nothing new for Raviv Drucker,” the statement from Netanyahu said. Drucker denies any political motivation and insists he is only doing his job.
Now in his fourth term, Netanyahu has repeatedly tried to curb his many detractors in the media, which he considers biased against him and whose numerous investigations have failed to land him in any significant legal or political peril. He has forgone press conferences and interviews, and has tried to reshape the media landscape in Israel. Like US President-elect Donald Trump, he has taken to social media to lambast the press.
Netanyahu encouraged the establishment in 2007 of Israel Hayom, a free daily financed by billionaire Sheldon Adelson that largely serves as his mouthpiece. He has appointed himself minister responsible for media regulation and ordered his coalition partners not to float any media-related bills without his approval.