Sunday, November 2, 2008

Yigal Amir and the Media

There is a media feeding frenzy going about Yigal Amir's telephone interview with two TV channels. And now two leading (left-leaning) journalists have published conflicting views about whether the channels were right about pulling the interviews from their broadcast schedule after having widely publicized that they were going to be aired. Did the channels just cave in to public opinion and the dictates of higher authority, discarding journalistic integrity?
Right or Wrong: - IMHO - both. BUT...and it's a ginormous "BUT"...
Let's look at the interviews from a purely journalistic point of view first:
in my days as a reporter, would I have given my eye teeth to have an interview with a murderer - especially such a high profile murderer as this one? You betcha!!!!
But back in those days, we had what we used to call journalistic ethics (!!!???- what?) The first question that my editors would have asked - and which I would have had to ask myself - was: "Is it in the public interest?" If the potential story failed this acid test, then it was canned right at the outset - BEFORE the interview even took place.
Then there are other questions that would have supported the final decision: Why was the individual in question granting the interview - or seeking the interview - in the first place? For self-aggrandisement? For publicity for his spurious cause? A positive answer to any of these questions would have caused it to be spiked there and then.
And then, is it legal to interview this person? Should there not be a complete embargo over everything that spews from his potty-mouth? And let's be clear here people, we are not talking about "freedom of the press" but about "freedom to incite". The right to know is entrenched in every modern democracy - and Israel prides itself on out democratizing any other known democracy. But the right to incite is tantamount to sedition, plotting against the state and thereby, plotting against the citizens of the state. THIS is how the interview should have been judged at the outset.
Let's be honest - why would anybody want to know anything about the thoughts and dreams of this vile individual? He is first of all, a convicted - and self-confessed - murderer. More importantly, he murdered a Prime Minister and with it, the hopes and dreams of a peaceful solution to our tragic situation - setting back the peace process by decades. He destroyed reputations, he brought about national mourning and a national schism between right and left, he branded the moderate right wing as fanatics and he pushed the fanatics beyond the pale (where they should have been anyway). He created a national trauma...and for this our "liberal" media (hmmm - can we call the TV channels "liberal"?) wants to give him a platform?
OK - so you can see where my sentiments are: the final analysis - NO, do not publish the interviews; they should not have been held in the first place; consign this man to anonymity for the rest of his life - ignore his rantings, ignore the idiotic sproutings of his imbecilic wife; he is not worthy of our attention or our energy (too much of which has already been spent on this post).
There is nothing that he can say which would be of the remotest interest to me - and as I am a member of the public, it is therefor NOT in the public interest.
The channels were right to have pulled the interview, but wrong to have even considered it - and publicised it - in the first place.
And may Yigal Amir be thrown into a pit of vipers where he will be in good company...

No comments: