Zehava Galon, head of the Meretz party, on Wednesday claimed she had been blacklisted by the newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, whose publisher is currently under police investigation.
Galon was responding to a Wednesday column in Yedioth by Nahum Barnea, who criticized the left-wing lawmaker for not supporting a proposed law in 2014 which would have forced the free, pro-Netanyahu Israel Hayom paper to have a cover charge.
At the time, Galon wrote on Facebook Wednesday, the newspaper threatened her and then punished her by putting her on a blacklist and “erasing her” from its pages.
The allegation came amid reports that Yedioth publisher Arnon Mozes in 2014 tried to reach a deal with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for positive coverage in exchange for support for the bill, which would have banned free papers as a way to reduce Israel Hayom’s wide distribution and give a boost to Yedioth.
“Months before the vote I got calls from lobbyists, PR people and even acquaintances,” Galon wrote on Facebook. “The message was simple: If I don’t support the bill, Yedioth will erase me. In those words. ‘You will not appear anymore in Yedioth.’”
“They promised and it happened. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve appeared in Mozes’s paper since then. Journalists who worked at Yedioth tell me that articles on me would suddenly disappear during editing, and stories that mentioned me would be cut. I went on their blacklist.”
Earlier in the day, Zionist Union MK Mickey Rosenthal, a former journalist for the paper, acknowledged that while Barnea may have never been told by Mozes what to write about — as the veteran columnist wrote — the publisher used the paper to settle personal scores.
“You will say: ‘Wait a minute, Micky, you worked for many years at this paper and you made a living through Noni Mozes, you want to tell me that Yedioth settle scores through its newspaper?'” he wrote on Facebook. “The answer, unfortunately, is yes. It didn’t happen when I was responsible on the news pages of the paper (I quit many years ago), and it was rare that they would use the front page that I edited in a not substantive way… but it has happened in recent years since Noni took over completely at the newspaper.”
In addition to attacking Galon, Barnea denied in his column that Mozes directly controlled the news coverage.
In September, TheMarker Hebrew-language business daily reported on the internal blacklist at Yedioth, with certain figures getting no coverage at all, and others receiving only negative coverage.
Yedioth head Mozes and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are currently under investigation for an alleged deal which would have seen the prime minister work to reduce the circulation of Israel Hayom. In exchange, Netanyahu would enjoy more favorable coverage in Yedioth.
“If we can come to an agreement on the law (to limit Israel Hayom), I will do all I can to make sure you stay here (as prime minister) as long as you want,” Channel 2 on Tuesday quoted Mozes as saying in recordings of conversations between the two. “I’m looking you in the eye, and saying this as clearly as I can.”