Opinion: Don’t blame Netanyahu and Trump for weakening democracy – they were elected

Netanyahu and Trump are blamed for undermining democracy when all they’re doing is defending themselves from institutions that were compromised long before they came on the scene. 

By Daniel Krygier, World Israel News

Liberal media journalists have never been fans of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Donald Trump. The Russian collusion accusations against Trump and alleged corruption charges against Netanyahu have triggered unprecedented media hostility that portrays Trump and Netanyahu as “enemies of democracy.” 

In a recent op-ed typical of this line of attack, Times of Israel Founding Editor David Horovitz, a longtime Netanyahu critic, escalated his attack on the prime minister, saying:

“It is entirely legitimate for a criminal suspect to assert his or her innocence. It is irresponsible and dangerous, as prime minister, to seek, in the process, to weaken public confidence in the institutions of democracy. But that is precisely what Netanyahu has been doing.”

In other words, Horovitz blames Netanyahu for creating a rift between Israel’s citizens and its institutions. Similar accusations are leveled against Trump in America.

In a telling passage, Horovitz writes: “It’s about a prime minister’s alleged efforts to illegally bend Israeli media to his will, the better to ensure the public is persuaded of his unique ability to run this country…”

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If Netanyahu’s goal was to bend the media to his will, he is doing a very poor job. The majority of the liberal media is fiercely anti-Netanyahu as well as anti-Trump. Horowitz and his liberal American media counterparts make it sound as if Netanyahu and Trump are leading Israel and America towards a Putin-ruled Russia.

The situation in Israel and America is vastly different from autocratic Russia. In Russia, journalists are actually killed. By contrast, even the harshest media critics of Netanyahu and Trump can freely write whatever they want and safely walk the streets of Israel and America.

Democracy in Israel and America is indeed undermined but the source of the threat predates Netanyahu and Trump. Poll after poll reveals that there is a widespread global distrust in the media. 

Similar numbers have been recorded by Pew Research Gallup. The reason is simple: left-leaning views are vastly over-represented in media as well as in other crucial institutions, like for example Israel’s High Court of Justice.

The picture is similar in academia and in the publishing industry. There are plenty of books and articles that are hostile towards conservative leaders like Trump or Netanyahu. By contrast, far fewer books and articles are critical towards left-leaning political leaders like former President Obama, Bernie Sanders or British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn.

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Independent-thinking Israelis and Americans distrusted the media long before Netanyahu and Trump. Much of the biased media can only blame itself for rightly earning the title “fake news.”

It is highly unhealthy for a democracy when one political side monopolizes crucial institutions like the media, academia and the courts.

Left-leaning critics conveniently ignore that Trump and Netanyahu won democratic elections. And in a genuine democracy, the citizenry, and not unelected bureaucrats, judicial appointees and biased journalists, decide the political direction of a country.