Television Coverage of the Israeli Supreme Court between 1968 and 1992: The Persistence of the Mythical Image
Israel Law Review, Vol. 42, No. 2, 2009
56 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2009 Last revised: 7 Dec 2014
Date Written: April 14, 2009
During the 1980s the Israeli Supreme Court went through revolutionary changes, becoming more active in public life and in the political arena. Scholars predicted that the institutional legitimacy of the Court, based on its image as an objective, neutral, and apolitical institution, would decline following these changes. However, public polls showed that the Court's institutional legitimacy remained very high long after the 1980s. This Article aims to explain the lack of a decline in the institutional legitimacy of the Court during those years by presenting an empirical study of the Court's news television coverage beginning with the inception of Channel One (1968) until just before the entrance of the commercially financed Channel Two (1993). The Article shows that the increase in the visibility of the Court was not substantial enough to diminish the Court's mythical image. Moreover, television continued to present the Court, by and large, through a mythical perspective as an objective, neutral, and apolitical body. The Article concludes that the Israeli public, unaware of the changes in the Court's adjudication, continued to award the Court support based on the Court's unchanged mythical image presented by the news media. Hence, a politically active court may continue to receive high public support based on in its mythical image if the changes in its adjudication are not visible to the public. Research of the portrayal of courts in the media is thus of utmost importance in understanding changes in the institutional legitimacy of courts.
Keywords: institutional legitimacy, media coverage, Israeli Supreme Court
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