Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called up a veteran TV reporter to apologize for mimicking him, including making fun of his bushy eyebrows, during a speech earlier this week in which he criticized media reporting on the criminal investigations into him.
Hadashot news crime reporter Moshe Nussbaum told Army Radio in an interview Thursday that the prime minister had contacted him the day before to say he did not intended to offend him.
“Netanyahu called me to apologize,” Nussbaum said. “He said, ‘I didn’t intend to offend you personally and if you were offended I apologize. Definitely apologize.'”
Nusbbaum said he told the prime minister he appreciated the call and hadn’t been offended by the impression.
In his speech Tuesday at an event in Tel Aviv for his Likud party, Netanyahu attacked the media for reporting leaked information about the corruption investigations against him and for making predictions about his downfall. He also downplayed the effects of a looming police recommendation to the attorney general that charges be pressed against him.
He then made fun of Nussbaum’s style of reporting, in which the journalist often uses the phrase “that is to say” and of the media’s ostensibly sensationalist delivery of mundane information.
“What will happen with the recommendations? Here’s a spoiler: In a few weeks, reporters and commentators will sit in the TV studios and begin the news with, ‘[These are] serious recommendations. One could even say, very serious. Perhaps, one of the most serious the state has ever known,'” Netanyahu said and stroked his eyebrows, a reference to Nussbaum’s own prominent pair.
Netanyahu is a suspect in two corruption investigations, known as cases 1000 and 2000.
In the first, Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, are suspected of receiving illicit gifts from billionaire benefactors, most notably hundreds of thousands of shekels’ worth of cigars and champagne from the Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan.
Case 2000 involves a suspected illicit quid-pro-quo deal between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper publisher Arnon Mozes that would have seen the prime minister weaken a rival daily, the Sheldon Adelson-backed Israel Hayom, in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth.
Netanyahu has denied wrongdoing in both cases.