Barak: Media, politicians out to get me

Labor chair blames negative press on politicians, media who he claims are trying to bring him down.

barak UN 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
barak UN 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Labor Party Chairman Ehud Barak on Thursday blamed the slew of negative headlines that he has received over the past week on politicians and press whom he said were trying to bring him down politically. The negative stories did not improve Barak's position in the polls, in which he hit a new low on Thursday. A Dialog poll published in Haaretz found that Barak would bring Labor a record low of only 12 or 13 mandates in a race against Binyamin Netanyahu's Likud and Kadima under Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz or Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. Barak has been harmed this week by reports on Channel 10 about the consulting firm belonging to his wife, Nili Priel. She was forced to close it after the reports suggested that it was a front for illegal fund-raising for Barak. Follow-up reports in Yediot Aharonot further deepened the damage to Barak's image. "This is part of an attempt to delegitimize me," Barak told Israel Radio. "This happens to everyone who raises the banner of good governance. The articles are attempting to paint me with the same brush of corruption that has tainted so many other politicians, but I don't intend to fall into such a trap. They won't succeed in scaring me via any article in any media outlet." Barak's associates downplayed his poor performance in the polls and noted that not a single Labor MK had called to replace him as Labor leader in the wake of the surveys, including the candidates who ran against him in last year's Labor leadership race. "Polls only show the atmosphere in the public at the present moment," a Barak associate said. "You have to remember that polls change. Hillary Clinton was at one point first in the polls and look where she is now." MK Ophir Paz-Pines, who ran against Barak for the Labor leadership, warned against making decisions based on polls. But he did say that Barak made a grave mistake by not quitting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government following the publication in January of the Winograd Report on the Second Lebanon War. "Labor is endangering itself by remaining in the government at any price as Kadima's backseat driver," Paz-Pines said. "But let's not hurry to draw conclusions about Barak." "Everyone agrees that he is a good defense minister. It is wrong, shallow and even dangerous to focus so much on polls. We elected him and we have to support him."