Politicians show up often on TV for interviews. We examine the similarities and differences of politicians' media conduct in Israeli and German TV media.
First, the aspiration for objectivity on the TV channels in Germany leads politicians to censor their opinions. They present opinions in a more refined, cautious and polite manner, compared to Israeli politicians. Politicians use a similar calm and civilized type of language when they appear on TV.
In Israeli TV people speak more informally and with less concern for political correctness. For example, in a recent interview with the Israeli politician Dudi Amsalem on Channel 12, he used strong hand gestures. The host recoiled and said “don’t point at me”. This represents the informal and not-PC public behavior of politicians.
Second, due to the multiplicity of parties in Israel, each politician represents a different sector of the population and the discourse is less general and informative and more focused on the politician’s specific perspective and distinct electorate. In contrast, politicians in Germany are focused on transmitting information and in less contentious manner than in Israel.
The popular public broadcasting TV channels ARD in Germany for instance, allows politicians to present balanced and less resolute opinions to the public. People, then, view ARD as a more reliable source of news. In contrast, sensationalized news and opinionated content can be consumed on the private channel BILD TV where politicians’ express opinions more freely. Similarly, the popular and private Channel 12 in Israel allows politicians to present their opinions more bluntly while on the public Channel 11 politicians often express more stately, formal and representative opinions.
Third, in Germany, the relationship between the politicians and the TV channels is based on mutual trust. This, in contrary to the perception of relations in Israel, according to which some politicians delegitimize the press and undermine it.
German and Israeli social media share a resemblance because politicians in both countries use it for spreading their agendas while appealing directly to the population. For example, the German politician Karl Lauterbach, frequently publishes content about the coronavirus via Instagram and Twitter. In this way, he turned from a less known figure to a professional whose opinions are valuable.
However, Angela Merkel, the former chancellor, while in office, did not even have a Facebook page.
On the other hand, Benjamin Netanyahu, the previous prime minister, used his Facebook page to make announcements, share his views, and criticize opponents in a “comical” way.
German politicians use these platforms in a more “technical” and informative way. For instance, the German chancellor Olaf Scholz publishes announcements and updates, but never criticize or mock opponents on social media.