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How Israel's media fails the country amid coronavirus, political crises

With political and health crises gripping Israel, the media has shirked its responsibility to challenge government officials and report the facts.
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - MARCH 20: An Israeli Fire Department crew man sprays disinfectants as he sanitize the entrance to Tel Aviv's Hospital children department on March 20, 2020 in Tel Aviv, Israel. Number of coronavirus in Israel continues to jump, after over 200 new cases have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.  (Photo by Amir Levy/Getty Images)

An unending stream of past and present Health Ministry officials, experts in exotic diseases, public relations experts, coronavirus patients, self-isolating individuals and of course politicians has commandeered the screens of the leading television channels in Israel. This is how crises in Israel go, with news studios inundated by a wave of coverage that feels like one continuous broadcast. The problem is that between a conversation with a model in London about the difficulties of adapting to isolation and wisecracks in the studio to break the tension, one gets the impression there’s no time left for the news itself, investigative reporting or meaningful debate.

In Israel today, there are two big crises — one political and the other involving public health. In this environment, are Israeli media asking penetrating questions? How are journalists dealing with politicians trying to evade answers and responsibility? Is media coverage objective or does it display bias? In the digital era, with so many still images and videos available online, and when every citizen armed with a camera or cellphone can be a blogger, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction. This reality demands that the media takes it duty to check facts seriously. 

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