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(photo credit: Channel 10)
The media frenzy over comedian and TV host Dudu Topaz is understandable. After all, he used to be king of the ratings, and regardless of whether or not he is guilty of the crimes he is alleged to have masterminded, it makes for terrific stories, not to mention cartoons which will have people laughing at him rather than with him.
Yediot Aharonot ran a cartoon of him looking back with a satisfied grin as he is hustled to jail by two policeman with the caption "I'm king of the ratings again." It is highly doubtful that Topaz sought this kind of notoriety to get back into the headlines. Yes he was frustrated to have fallen from favor, and he may have fantasized all kinds of nasty things in relation to those who rejected him, but as Keren Noibach (who devoted a lot of time to Topaz on her morning radio show on Reshet Bet) reminded her listeners, "He is innocent until proven guilty."
Some of his friends and colleagues, especially those who went to school with him or have known him from his army days, have come to his defense, while others have expressed the wish that the nightmare will soon be over and that the guilty person will be someone other than Topaz.
Meanwhile, unless or until that happens, the media are having a field day, as they do with all public figures suspected of breaching the law.
The media become their kangaroo court, unless the suspect happens to be one of their darlings, such as Haim Ramon, whom they defended with a passion - and perhaps rightly so - because everything that was published in the case of the girl soldier whom he kissed indicated that she had been the instigator of the episode that lasted less than a minute, but which put a permanent blot on Ramon's reputation.
But there have been other darlings less deserving of media clemency.
If the truth be told, the role of the media is neither to denounce nor defend but rather to try to piece together the facts and report as objectively as possible. While there is no such thing as pure objectivity, because even facts like beauty are in the eye of the beholder and are often painted over with cosmetics, there should at least be balance.
In the Topaz case the media has dredged up every misdemeanor in his past in an attempt to prove that he has a violent temperament. He may have a short fuse as indicated by some of the things he's done, but to be declared dangerous to the public is a far cry from having a short fuse.
Topaz has been down his luck for a couple of years now - perhaps because public tastes have changed or perhaps because his talent has diminished.
It's not considered sportsmanlike to kick a man when he's down, but there's some perversion in the Israeli psyche that revels in kicking a man when he's down. Just for a little while, Moshe Katsav and Ehud Olmert have been put on the sidelines to make way for the media's new football, whose name is Dudu Topaz.
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