Getting to the truth: Knesset puts 'Polygraph' to the test

MKs slam Channel 2 over 'inappropriate' reality show.

gadi sukenik 224 88 (photo credit: )
gadi sukenik 224 88
(photo credit: )
For the third time during this Knesset session, a "reality" television show became the subject of a Knesset hearing, when Channel 2's The Polygraph took a verbal beating from MKs during a Tuesday meeting of the Knesset's Education, Culture and Sport Committee. The hearing was held at the behest of a number of MKs, including MK Ya'acov Margi (Shas), who said the new program was worrisome, not just to members of the religious community, but to society as a whole. The show, presented by former Channel 2 news anchor Gadi Sukenik, features a contestant who is asked intimate questions about his or her private behavior, while attached to a lie detector. Contestants answering truthfully win increasing sums of money, while their family members' reactions in the studio are captured on tape. Questions asked of contestants have included, "Did you ever fantasize about having sex with your wife's twin sister?" and "Is it true that you have paid for sex?" Amos Neuman, the assistant director of programming for Reshet, the show's producer, said the program, which earned high viewer ratings in its opening episode, was no different in its content from other shows broadcast on Channel 2 and competing networks. " Educational television broadcasts - during the afternoon hours - have sex, drugs, violence and the humiliation of children," he said. "We may have received 300 complaints about the program, but we also received 900 requests to participate in the program, and a total of 800,000 people viewed our broadcasts." "The only thing that participants on the program have to do is to tell the truth," Neuman said. "It is clear that there is provocation, but I still don't think that any red lines were crossed. We decided to change the broadcast time in response to the public's wishes." Haim Manor, the show's producer, said, "What can you do? We need to make a living." Committee chairman MK Michael Melchior (Labor) felt Manor's response was unsatisfactory. "Is that a values statement?" he asked. "This is a contemptible, voyeuristic program... The question is not are there other inappropriate programs, but rather if the time hasn't arrived for self-restraint. "I oppose censorship, but the broadcast time and commercials for the program must be considered. We will not serve as a censor, but there is a need for the ethical statement: This program is not appropriate." The committee members were not alone in their criticism of The Polygraph. Mati Angel, a young teacher who has organized a citizens' forum against the program, said Channel 2 was harming people in exchange for money. "Your response is similar to that of a child who is hitting another kid," he said. "When I approach the child, they always say, 'but everybody's hitting.' "The content that is presented during the afternoon hours is fiction, and you are claiming to present the truth. When I approach a bully, I ask him, 'Why did you do that?' And, just as in your situation, the motivation is clear: Harming others sells, and that is what brings you clients and money."