The Prime Minister’s Office and the Israel Hayom newspaper denied a recent claim in The Economist that the prime minister’s staff “routinely approves” the daily’s headlines before publication.
The PMO rejected the story, calling it fictitious, while Israel Hayom said that the “absurd” claim did not warrant a response, according to a report in Haaretz Wednesday.
An April 8 article in The Economist titled “A tough deal to swallow,” quoted an interview with a top army official in Israel Hayom who talked about Israel’s possible response to the framework agreement reached between Iran and world powers.
The Economist article goes on to say: “Yisrael Hayom is a freesheet owned by Sheldon Adelson, a casino mogul and supporter of Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister. Its headlines are routinely approved by the prime minister’s office.”
Though it is widely known that the Hebrew-language newspaper owned by the American Jewish billionaire is staunchly pro-Netanyahu, the allegation that the prime minister’s staff have central input in editorial decisions is unprecedented.
According to British watchdog website UK Media Watch, which reached out to the Economist for comment, the paper is standing by the claim which it said was “based on a source they have full confidence in.”
Adelson, who has an estimated net worth of $37 billion, is a close supporter of Netanyahu, and is a noted contributor to the Republican Party, along with various pro-Israel and right-wing groups.
Last year, the Knesset passed in a preliminary reading a bill that would force Israel Hayom to begin charging its readers, in what backers called a bid to even out the print journalism playing field. Netanyahu and his associates have criticized it as an attempt to silence right-wing media. The freesheet is Israel’s most widely read daily.