After a full day of absorbing media coverage of Benjamin Netanyahu‘s victory yesterday, there’s only one conclusion to draw: On every issue, the first instinct of reporters/hosts/pundits is to take a side.
Right-wing media celebrated and crowed. On the left, the Bibi win is being met with scorn, ridicule and unintentional comedy. The latter comes courtesy of a once-reputable column who has morphed into the Perez Hilton of political commentary, otherwise known as Jonathan Alter. Here’s his take in a Daily Beast article headlined “Bibi’s Ugly Win Will Harm Israel“:
A desperate Netanyahu used fear to grab the most seats in the election, but his rejection of a Palestinian state will further isolate the Jewish state.
Like George W. Bush in his 2004 reelection campaign against John Kerry in the aftermath of 9/11, Netanyahu wielded security issues as a polarizing political weapon, overcoming personal unpopularity and a mediocre economic record with a campaign based largely on fear. It worked.
When in doubt, always work in a decade-old Bush comparison.
To Alter, Netanyahu was “desperate” despite winning by a comfortable margin as far as the Israeli election process goes. Funny when rockets are being launched at your country on a hourly basis and a foreign entity (Iran) declared it wants to wipe you off the map that some folks still believe that campaigning on long-term security is simply an exercise in whipping up fear. Alter also stated Bibi came back from being politically dead, which was just about nobody else’s take in an election most thought would be razor-thin, and many like Atler hoped Netanyahu would lose. Not because of what’s the writer deems best for Israel, mind you, but because Bibi sided with eeeevil Republicans in Congress by having the audacity of addressing those members directly in a speech that was a slam dunk (in honor of March Madness).
And that’s what’s really in play here in American media, right? Our press rarely takes any interest in foreign elections…just look at scant coverage given to India during that truly historic and important contest last year, broken down nicely by the best anchor for deep dives into ignored topics today, HBO’s John Oliver on Last Week Tonight.
Yup…the American press and cable news definitely took a side in a foreign election based on who and who didn’t support the current and future prime minister here. Here’s just a few samples of the hysterical headlines that emerged following Netanyahu’s decisive victory:
Slate: “Israel Just Lost”
Huffington Post: “Netanyahu’s Victory In Israel Elections Leaves Damage In Its Wake”
Associated Press: “Netanyahu victory leaves damage in wake”
The (New) New Republic: “Benjamin Netanyahu Will Not Win Another Election”
New York Times: “Obama May Find It Impossible to Mend Frayed Ties to Netanyahu”
The last headline listed in particularly hilarious, as it paints the president as the guy really trying hard to make it work with Israel and its prime minister. If Mr. Obama wants to mend fences, here’s a crazy idea: Pick up a phone and make a congratulatory call to Netanyahu, which he hasn’t done yet. Or… set up a meeting to at least talk about a way to move forward. After all, dialing up a foreign leader after a big election win is nothing new for the commander-in-chief; he did so right after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani won in 2013.
But Bibi? Not even a text with a smiley face for one of America’s closest allies :)
And to many in American media, Mr. Netanyahu is no longer seen as a friend.
He’s seen as something much worse: A conservative.
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