BibiTube: Israel’s Netanyahu launches TV station ahead of elections
Netanyahu announced the launch of Likud TV on Saturday with a video mocking the corruption probes against him.
Hosted by actor and reality TV-star Eliraz Sade, the channel is apparently modelled on Real News Update, a weekly webcast launched to support Donald Trump's 2020 presidential campaign.
Under the slogan "we're throwing the 'fake' out of the news", Likud TV considers itself a bulwark against mainstream media criticism of the prime minister.
Police recommended Netanyahu's indictment in three corruption cases in December and the attorney-general of Israel is expected to announce his decision on whether or not to charge the prime minister within the next few months.
He is not alone in facing corruption allegations during his premiership; his predecessor Ehud Olmert was convicted of accepting bribes.
In its first broadcast, presenter Sade appeared in a mock meeting with Netanyahu to arrange positive media coverage, a direct allusion to Case 4000, one of three corruption probes with which he is faced.
Two of the three ongoing corruption investigations against Netanyahu centre on allegations he attempted to influence coverage of his premiership in several major Israeli media outlets.
Case 4000 accuses Netanyahu of providing regulatory benefits to Shaul Elovitch, majority shareholder of Israeli media conglomerate Bezeq Telecommunications, in return for positive media coverage in Walla! News, one of Bezeq's properties and a leading Israeli news site.
In Likud TV's first broadcast Sade asks the prime minister, "You're asking me for positive coverage?"
"Truthful coverage", Netanyahu responds.
"But if I present truthful coverage, it might come out as positive," replies the host.
"Walla! [Really!]," Netanyahu winks to the camera in a clear nod to Case 4000. "You will present only what's real and I'll continue to make sure it'll only be positive."
Netanyahu has been dogged by a fraught relationship with the media since the 1990s.
Just last month the prime minister accused the media and left-wing opponents of pushing the attorney-general to press charges against him.
A campaign billboard unveiled in Tel Aviv on February 3 positioned Netanyahu next to US President Trump, also infamous for an embattled relationship with the media, proclaiming that the Israeli premier is "in another league".