Fox News leads in coverage of Schalit story

Fox News leads in covera

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
December 23, 2009 00:37
2 minute read.
fox news schalit 248 88

fox news schalit 248 88. (photo credit: )

 
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Despite the ongoing battles for scoops among the three Israeli channels, the media outlet that has been quoted more than any other regarding the Gilad Schalit story in recent weeks has been the American Fox News network. On their front pages on Tuesday, Hebrew newspapers quoted Fox's report about the seven-member inner cabinet deciding to accept a deal for kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit, with stipulations regarding exiling the worst of the terrorists in the deal. Fox also broke the news about the split among the seven ministers in the cabinet and reported that Israeli negotiator, Hagai Hadas, had threatened to resign if the inner cabinet rejected the proposal. Always quoting "an Israeli source familiar with the negotiations," the network has also reported frustration on the Israeli side with the German mediator, accusations that he was biased in favor of Hamas, and complaints about how the negotiations were handled by former prime minister Ehud Olmert. The multiple original reports by Fox on the issue have led to accusations that officials in the Prime Minister's Office had purposely leaked information to the network in order to bypass the military censor, who routinely removes key information from stories in Israeli media. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's spokesman Nir Hefetz fiercely denied that his office was behind the leaks, which have come to Israeli producers in Fox's Jerusalem bureau and were broadcast by reporters Mike Tobin and Reena Ninan. While the foreign press is also subject to the military censor when operating from Israel, outlets like Fox can bypass the censor by reporting information from the United States. Israeli media can only report censored material if they quote foreign reports, which has been happening in the case of Fox News. Fox News Jerusalem bureau chief Eli Fastman declined to speak about how his bureau has become part of the news with regard to the Gilad Schalit story, beyond saying that "our work speaks for itself." But sources connected to the network said reports about the leaks have been incorrect. Kadima MK Nachman Shai, a former IDF spokesman, said he doubted the Netanyahu administration was smart enough to use the Fox News network for psychological warfare in the Schalit story, the way Hamas has used Al-Jazeera. He called for limiting censorship to only information with great security importance. "It is important to review the role of the censor," Shai said. "Because the censor is so intrusive, the press must rely on quoting foreign sources. "This makes Israelis watch foreign news to know what's going on. In this day and age, there are no more secrets."

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