Israel is in election fever, and it is commonly recognized that the media's representation of candidates and political parties has an impact on public perception – but how does the public perceive the media?
A new survey conducted by the Smith Institute which is to be published by Channel 20 on Tuesday night probes just that question, and finds that the public overwhelming thinks the newscasters presenting them vital information have a pronounced bent to the far left.
According to the poll a full 55% of the public estimates that Yonit Levi of Channel 2, one of the most recognizable and famous presenters, will vote for the leftist "Zionist camp" Labor and Hatnua unity party, which has indicated it wants to reach a deal with the Palestinian Authority (PA) dividing Jerusalem and Israel.
Meanwhile 23% felt Levi will vote for the radical leftist Meretz party, a small ideological camp that many have attributed with single-handedly taking the "two state solution" paradigm from a fringe concept to a mainstream idea, shifting the entire national dialogue radically leftward.
Another journalist asked about was Rafi Reshef of Channel 10; 48% think he will vote for Labor, and 31% think he will go with Meretz. Regarding Razi Barkai of Army Radio, 50% think his vote will be for Labor, while 30% see him going with Meretz.
Several other newscasters were viewed as being slightly more varied, with the public viewing the possibility that they might vote for Likud as being somewhat more realistic.
Oded Ben-Ami of Channel 2 was overwhelmingly viewed by 55% as a Labor voter, although 23% said he would vote Likud, and 13% pegged him as voting for Yesh Atid.
A similar breakdown was seen concerning Aryeh Golan of Reshet Bet; 50% put him with Labor, 19% with Likud, 10% with Meretz and 10% for Yesh Atid.
The most balanced newscaster in the eyes of the public was Ya'akov Elan of Channel 1, who 37% thought would vote for Labor, closely followed by 32% for Likud, and 18% with Yesh Atid.
The survey comes just as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has accused a leading news mogul, Noni Mozes of Yedioth Aharonot, of leading a massive media campaign against him focusing on his wife.
The public opinion on Yonit Levi may not come as such a surprise, as during 2008-9 Operation Cast Lead in Gaza there was a petition calling her “anti-Zionist” and accusing her of expressing empathy with the enemy – the petition received 34,000 signatures in less than two weeks.
Levi also reportedly faced sharp criticism from within Channel 2, with her critics accusing her of weakening national morale by conducting empathetic interviews with Gazan Arabs.
Angry viewers also filed complaints with Channel 2's ombudsman. “I watched the 8 o'clock news presented by Miss Yonit Levi,” one of them wrote, “and at the end of the newscast she said the following sentence: 'It's hard to convince the world that the war is justified when we have one person dead and the Palestinian nation has 350 dead.'”