GOP backer Adelson accused of commandeering Israel’s media market

Christian Science Monitor reports: Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson grabbed the spotlight in the US earlier this year for making multi-million dollar campaign contributions to Republican presidential candidates on the bet that their policies would better jibe with those of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu than with President Obama’s.

In Israel, Mr. Adelson is better known as the force behind the five-year-old free newspaper, “Yisrael Hayom” (Israel Today), which is seen by some as the Israeli print equivalent of Fox News. Touting Israeli patriotism, it is among the most widely read newspapers in the country and has a reputation for its fiercely loyal coverage of Mr. Netanyahu – and now Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

Adelson rejects accusations of bias, insisting in a previous interview that his paper is a “fair and balanced” alternative to other newspapers more critical of the government and that he is breaking rival newspaper Yediot Ahranot’s monopoly on the market. Many Israelis nonetheless see the paper as a political vehicle to support the prime minster, and now, American Republican politicians. And with other newspapers floundering financially while Adelson puts his substantial wealth behind Yisrael Hayom, some worry that he is squeezing other political ideologies out of the market.

“You can see completely biased coverage always emphasizing good news for the Republicans, or always hiding or eliminating bad news for the Republicans,” says Oren Persico, who writes a daily analysis of print news coverage for Israel’s media magazine “The Seventh Eye.” “It’s one-sided, so Israelis will stand behind Romney.”

An opinion poll conducted by Hebrew University and released yesterday showed Mr. Romney with an eight percentage point advantage over Mr. Obama among Israelis – 34 percent to 26 percent, with 20 percent undecided. Another opinion poll from earlier this month suggested that the gap was more than two to one.

Since Israel is clearly not a swing state, there’s no need for the Obama campaign to waste its resources. Let Romney take the delegates. Oh, right. There are no delegates. I was forgetting that most Israelis don’t have the right to vote in U.S. elections. But seriously, are there any other countries outside the U.S. where anyone is running polls on the presidential race? Probably not. And there’s almost certainly only one country in the world where Romney has an eight point lead.

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