Levin’s massive audience insulates him from the growing fear of censors that now plagues conservatives in America. At a time when progressive propaganda has become a substitute for news reporting at liberal media organs across the United States, fresh from four years of unrelenting media assaults on former President Donald Trump and his supporters, Levin is a leading voice for millions of Americans who feel increasingly marginalized and besieged.
Ahead of the release of the Hebrew edition of his New York Times bestseller “Unfreedom of the Press,” (Sella Meir Publishers), Levin sat down for a conversation with Israel Hayom. He explained what moved him to research the roots of media bias and why he believes the rising extremism of the U.S. media poses a threat to the future of the most powerful democracy in the world.
Levin sees a direct link between the U.S. media’s longstanding hostility towards Israel and its burgeoning anti-Americanism. He also sees parallels between the overwhelmingly leftist Israeli media and the U.S. media.
Our conversation was broadcast last week to mark the official launch of the Hebrew edition of his book. What follows are excerpts from our discussion.
“As somebody who watches the Israeli media, the Israeli media is a disaster,” Levin begins.
“The American media is a disaster. But at least in America, we have conservative talk radio. You have a few outlets in Israel — not many. And we have Fox News where at least we have some conservative opinion shows. You have nothing like that in Israel. You pretty much have a statist media that backs the left — as small as the left is now politically, the media remains overwhelmingly leftist in Israel.
“They are constantly, in my humble opinion, trying to undermine the conservatives, the hawks, the Netanyahu administration. And yet the people of Israel have pretty much rejected the media, haven’t they? At least in the last number of elections. The Labor Party really only exists in The Jerusalem Post and some of the other media outlets there. But it’s appalling to watch it. It’s appalling to watch the lies about the prime minister because I’m very familiar with his legal situation and the law in Israel.
“And I would say the other problem is basically — I hope this doesn’t get me in trouble — the founding socialists pretty much adopted the Italian parliamentary system. So you have 412 parties that are constantly running, and if you can pick off three guys maybe you can get a coalition. So it’s this constant state of play which is unstable, I think, for democracy.
“Now that said, in my own country over here, we have disasters looming all over the place. Part of the problem is our media. Our media here is a one-party media. I call it ‘the Democrat Party Media’ because that’s what it is. We have individuals in our media who worked in Democrat presidential administrations, Democrat presidential campaigns, who worked for members of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, and vice versa.
“The media in our country is at the tip of the spear dividing our country in many vile ways. They talk about incitement of an insurrection in our country and they’re attacking former President Donald Trump for that. He didn’t incite an insurrection.
“If the president of the United States wanted to lead an insurrection, I don’t think he would’ve sent 200 militia guys from all over the country into the Capitol. I think he would have sent in the Marines. But that’s quite beside the point. What about the left, and their language and their incitement? How do we know that doesn’t anger people and cause people to do things they ought not to do?
“But all that said, it’s kind of hard to maintain a republic, a civil society, rational debate when you have a media that has no interest in reporting the news. There are many ways you can affect the news — one is by censorship, not reporting the news even though something is newsworthy. And the other is of course with political bias. I am 63 years old and I have never seen anything like what is going on in our country before. The media are not really a profession anymore. They are social advocates.
“Let me just say this, in our journalism schools today there’s something taught called public or social advocacy. This is something that goes back a hundred years in our country to the progressive movement, the neo-Marxist movement. And you have it in your country too, trust me. You even have it on your Supreme Court.
“This is what it is: You don’t teach anything — science, math, history, language, literature, without it having a patina of social activism. In other words, it’s got to be placed in some social activist category. So you don’t just teach math, that’s too rote. In our journalism schools they’re being taught, ‘Don’t just report news. You have to give it an angle — and certainly not a conservative angle or a free-market angle or a constitutional angle. No, no, no. It’s got to be the left’s angle because only the left believes in humanity. Only the left is compassionate. Only the left wants progress.’ And that is what we are getting out of our media in the U.S. today, and I daresay in Israel today.”
Q: In terms of the commingling of media and government, it’s hard to know sometimes where the media begins and the government ends. The most outstanding example of that was during the Obama administration when Obama’s information czar, his deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes, was placed in charge of selling the Iran nuclear deal while Rhodes’ brother, David Rhodes. was the president of CBS.
Rhodes bragged in a media interview about how he created an “echo chamber” around the deal. It began with the administration, went through “experts” at allied think tanks, and was digested by reporters whom he noted derisively “literally knew nothing” about Iran or its nuclear program and were in no position to question the propaganda they were spoon-fed by Rhodes’ echo chamber. That echo chamber was responsible for falsely portraying a deal that guaranteed Iran would get the bomb inside a decade as a non-proliferation agreement. It also demonized deal opponents as warmongers and agents of a Jewish financial conspiracy that extended from Jerusalem to New York. And it worked. The merging of the media with the administration on the Iran deal looked an awful lot like fascism. How do you view this unity of forces and combined action?
A: That is a perfect example. He was putting out propaganda. They deliberately lied about everything. They knew the government of Iran wasn’t moderate but they were claiming it was moderate. They knew the government of Iran wasn’t trustworthy but they said it could be trusted. All those people are back. I just want my Israeli brothers and sisters to know, all those people are back in the Biden administration, and then some.
You’re going to have your hands full. We have our hands full here. And if you can’t have an honest media — which you do not have in Israel and which we do not have in the United States — it’s hard to preserve a free society.
I would though slightly amend what you said. The media are only part of the state when the left controls the state. Otherwise, they try to undermine the state as much as they can.
So as long as they’re Democrats, the media is fine. You can see the treatment here with Biden. Biden doesn’t hold press conferences. Biden is not challenged. Biden is signing executive orders like some kind of king. We don’t do that in the United States. He’s signing exceedingly radical executive orders, so he’s legislating through the executive branch. We have this system of checks and balances here which is relatively formal. And you don’t hear any talk about impeachment. You don’t hear any talk about violating the Constitution when it comes to Joe Biden.
I call the media in our country when it comes to Biden and Obama “The Praetorian Guard Media.” They not only do not want to report on what these guys are doing — they seek to protect them. And they protect them during their campaigns and they protect them when they are in office.
And what I do in the book, it’s chapter and verse. I don’t just give my opinion. I’ve got hundreds of endnotes in this book. I’ve got an enormous number of examples. I’ve got some in the media criticizing others in the media. You know, some “old school” guys who are liberals saying, “You know, we can’t do this,” and yet, they’re still doing it. You know it’s actually getting worse in this country. And it’s because, whether it’s media in this country or Hollywood, or academia or the Democrat Party, they’ve all been devoured by this progressive, sort of neo-Marxist movement. They’re all kind of one and the same, moving in the same direction.”
When I write these books, and I’m working on another one, it’s really quite depressing. What you find is that these so-called intellectuals and masterminds of critical race theory have as their intention, literally, to bring down a society. You’ll get it in Israel. It will come in the form of the Palestinians, the Arabs. We get it here in the form of everyone other than Caucasian Christians. And I would argue that they have a voice certainly in a corner of the Democrat Party but a growing part of the Democrat Party with Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib and AOC [Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez], and these anti-Semites and anti-American types. It is a growing part of the Democrat Party. The media not only do not condemn them, they promote them. And the Democrat Party doesn’t condemn them. They seek their reelection.
Q: One of the things you discuss in your book is how progressive Jews over time have covered anti-Semites. You devote a chapter, for instance, to how the Sulzbergers — the progressive Jewish owners of The New York Times — deliberately hid news of the Holocaust from their readers and in so doing, helped the Nazis to expand the pace of the genocide of European Jewry unabated.
Today we see progressive American Jewish organizations and leaders calling for the Biden administration to deny civil rights protections to American Jews who are being persecuted by progressive anti-Semites through the BDS movement and other anti-Israel campaigns. So these progressive Jewish groups are actually enabling progressive anti-Semitism and allowing progressive anti-Semites to get off scot-free for harming Jews. What do you make of this?
A: Well, you’ve got groups like J Street, and all the anti-Semites go to J Street and they speak. And they’re all given a plaque and patted on the head. And then they feel that they’ve spoken to Jews around the world. I’ll just be honest. I’ve said it on the radio. These are self-hating Jews.
I don’t know what their problem is. But you know, we’ve always had this phenomenon. There’s always been a corner of Judaism that is self-hating Jews. I would argue that these are some of them. So the anti-Semites and those who are very hostile to the current government in Israel, they go to these groups. And they speak. And they feel like they’ve spoken to “the Jews,” and they haven’t.
As for reportage of the Holocaust, I didn’t feel enough Americans were aware enough of what the New York Times did and didn’t do during World War II and the Holocaust. It wasn’t just the New York Times. It was all the American media. Old man Sulzberger was a secularist. He was hostile to the Zionist movement. He was hostile to Orthodox Jews. And he was a Roosevelt sycophant.
The Roosevelt administration was very hostile to the Jews. They wanted to keep the Holocaust quiet, as quiet as possible. And the New York Times assisted them. The American media assisted them. This is what happens when you don’t have a media that is responsible, that is independent, that is going to report “the news” as opposed to its opinions.
President Trump refers to the media in America as “the enemy of the people.” And when he says that you have the New York Times saying, ‘That’s outrageous, that’s like Hitler.’
I mean, are you kidding me? You guys, who hid what Hitler was doing, you’re casting aspersions? But the New York Times really hasn’t changed in many ways. As I write in the book, they still are extremely hostile to Israel. They are very sympathetic to Hamas and to terrorist activities.
The book isn’t about Israel. But I don’t know how you can talk about America and America’s principles and the way America’s covered without talking about Israel, and Israel’s principles and the way Israel is covered in America.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.