Tal Meir chooses to express national pride and courage over mundane journalistic rules

By Nati Katz

Tal Meir is on constant jet lag. Her first sip of coffee comes on the first commercial break of her poplar morning show on Israel’s Channel 14 Now. It’s been nearly three years that her alarm clock goes off a bit before 4 a.m. in the morning. By the time she hits the road it’s just her “and an occasional delivery truck” driving in pre-dawn dark hours on the highways of Israel to Modiin, where Channel 14 is based. Her morning show has been on the rise for a couple of years, with severe ups and downs during the contentious year of the ‘legal reform’ crisis. On October 7 the war broke, and the stark distinction of how Israel’s struggle is covered became evident. Viewership skyrocketed for Channel 14 in general, and Tal’s morning show in particular. The nation wanted something only Tal and her co-anchor Shai Goldman were delivering, courage and resiliency.

In a first interview to a U.S. publication, Tal Meir sheds light on the media revolution that is unfolding in Israel, talks about her primary daily fear, and what it takes to succeed and juggle between a demanding career, a household of 7, and a husband serving year-round in the IDF.

On The Network’s 10-year Anniversary, Here-Just-to-Survive No More

Nothing prepared Tal Meir back in 2022 to the level of criticism, verbal abuse, insults, and attack that a single tweet would draw towards her. She was part of an afternoon show back then, and the Israeli election results seemed to point to a Netanyahu-Right wing government. Her tweet revolved around the legitimacy of accepting the election results nationwide, and the reflection of the people’s choice on how the country should be run. What ensued was purely a personal and emotional shock to her.

“I can’t even repeat the things they said. What they called me, how they said it, what they wished for me, it was deeply offensive,” she says of the hundreds of talkbacks on social media. “But what hurts most is that what started it came from people I considered my friends. Peer journalists I used to work with in previous networks and outlets. People whose opinions I’ve always contained and accepted as legitimate views that they’re entitled to have. In my early career days, I used to avoid political debate, avoid voicing my opinions or views, and simply contained the poisonous one-sided expressions they put out. I never backlashed at their tweets no matter how divisive they intended to be.”

This became a turning point in Tal’s public persona. She witnessed harshly how her longtime acceptance of her peer journalists’ views was not reciprocated with equal courtesy. “I decided I’m no longer holding back on what I really think and decided my views and opinions should be expressed in the open. I didn’t even imagine what a wave of support and encouragement this would yield. Apparently it was an entire faction of the nation that felt unheard and underrepresented.”

What made you wait this long to start expressing yourself? It was over 10 years into your media career.

“When I just started in the media industry, I kept my thoughts to myself. I wasn’t an on-screen personality aside from a couple of segment appearances, so it would’ve been just social interaction. I used to be very attentive to others’ thoughts and stances and accepted the differences. They were vocal, they were outspoken about it, but I adopted an approach of a survival role in the industry. I didn’t want to create conflict or tension. Ahead of election campaigns they’d talk politics. And everyone seemed to align over what’s the ‘correct’ party to vote for. When they turned my way, someone would say ‘of course she’s also voting for….—she’s one of us’. The level of uniformity in opinion and political association was very transparent.”

But Tal was very determined and quite deliberate about her media industry journey. Let’s go some 30 years back. Tal Meir’s grandparents were avid Zionists and very attuned to the dynamic evolution of the young State. The media back then was predominantly left-wing owned and operated. Haaretz was already then positioned as the outlet designed for the “intelligent sector,” or by its own tagline: “for people who understand.” But it was during the frequent visits of young Tal then-Roitman at her grandparents’ home that puzzled her. “They watched the news program every single evening, and just couldn’t stop shouting at the hosts, the guests, the reporters. I couldn’t understand why she kept calling them names. Snobs, ignorant, uninformed, and other less than flattering descriptions. They would get very upset at the coverage and the reporting, and to me, it seemed to be taken very personally.”

Was it this passion towards the TV personalities that led you to pursue a career in media?

“Not this particular tendency. It took a few years for this type of expressed frustration to become much clearer to me. I started noticing similar reactions to the media by people in my community, friends, family—they were all annoyed by the way opinion shaping was taking place in the evolving broadcast news industry in Israel. The breaking point was in 2005 during the Gaza disengagement campaign. Here we were, brothers and sisters across the entire national movement, coming together to ache, warn, prevent, and scream against this evil plan. If you recall, we used to form the “human chain” in the preceding summer, which stemmed across 90 kilometers all the way between Gaza and the Kotel. It was genuine, it was sincere, and a very real cry to avoid the madness. But in the media—myself and my friends and the entire sector—were harshly demonized. We were treated and presented as lunatics with messianic motivations. The public opinion that was formed left us marginalized, with absolutely no representation and outlet. I felt the similar dynamics play out over the Gilad Shalit hostage deal in 2011. Anyone who dared object to it was defamed as heartless, callous, and unsympathetic. Fast forward to today by the way, there are still attempts to paint those who object to an irresponsible hostage deal as such, but the nation doesn’t buy it anymore. So much has taken place between the Shalit deal and our times, that the nation is simply in a different place.”

Tal decided she needs to help influence from within. Counterintuitively and swimming “against the stream,” Tal did not follow her friends to places like Bar Ilan University, Ariel, or Elkana, all popular academic institutions among the national right-wing sectors. Instead, she decided to pursue a communications degree “at the very heart of the industry and where media in Israel stems from.” She joined the Koteret School, a Tel Aviv University academic division for media studies. “I was a complete alien to them, and at the same time much of an intrigue. They thought I was ‘better’ than where I came from, but I kept telling them what they see is no different from my friends and community back at my Yishuv in Karnei Shomron. We became good friends and I continuously fed into their curiosity. They were so genuinely intrigued by our community, way of life, and the opposite of everything they were raised to believe in ignorance. They all ended up even crossing the ‘Green Line’ into Karnei Shomron for my wedding.”

Tal actually made it a point in her daily routine to keep living at home with her parents in Karnei Shomron. “When you spend your time among a very specific social circle day in, day out, you can get easily drawn into their way of thinking and perspectives. It was important for me to make sure I go back home every night after work, remember where I come from and why I joined Israeli media in the first place. It wasn’t an easy decision to make. The second intifada was going on, and the roads weren’t safe.”

The Morning Show IRL

Once she completed her studies, Tal kicked off her media career in various production roles at Channel 10 (now 13) and Keshet (now 12) on prime time shows. “It was an exceptional schooling phase for me, learning from the most professional journalists in the business.” This phase was abruptly concluded by Tal herself. “They started pulling me to produce promos for entertainment shows like The Big Brother and other gameshows and talk shows. This was not the reason I joined media and sacrificed a more sane routine for a frum girl. I envied my friends who seemed to have more normal lives. Normal hours of work, normal free time, and normal headspace that doesn’t include unforeseen crises that require you to stay back at work till late at night. I knew this wasn’t the type of influence I was seeking to have within the industry.”

Tal soon was approached by someone who shared that a new concept broadcast network was in the works. And for the first time, this network will have a more national right-wing orientation. She was intrigued. That’s when they announced the formation of Channel 20 (now Channel 14). Tal was part of the pioneers establishing the network, and today she’s the longest-standing member in the network.

Did this change your perspective on the challenge of working in the media compared to your friends who maintain a more ‘normal’ lifestyle?

“My mission from the very start was to influence Israel’s media industry from within. To grant a voice to the underrepresented right wing and national sector. The sacrifices continue. I work crazy hours, and our household needed adjustments. My husband is a full time IDF commander who’s barely home. At one point I used to have a babysitter who’d be there from 4 am to 7 pm, and then another babysitter taking over from 7 pm to midnight. I realized the children have neither a mother nor a father. It made no sense.”

Did this ever stand in your way as your career evolved?

“You know, it was a deliberate decision. Over the years I was offered terrific positions, roles and opportunities. Very special offers came through. But we are in Israel, and with all honesty, my husband simply does something more important, simple as that. His work in defending and fighting for our country and nation exceeds any position I may land. No show position, extra news item, or other job can compare to what we know he accomplishes for the nation in serving in the IDF.”

Wow. Will you ever revisit? Are those special offers something you’d pursue in the future?

“What I have against my eyes is my purpose in doing this: positive influence. I am very happy with my current influential position. People approach me on the street and online and thank me. They say they want to hug me for doing what we’re doing. Clearly, it’s not Tal Meir they want to hug, rather the entire network that grants a mouthpiece for an entire national sector that never before had an outlet to express itself or represent its views.”

And in this network, is the journalism standards something you’re proud of and on par with your own?

“Admittedly, there’s a pendulum effect. For over 75 years all we had with far-left media. At Chanel 14 we have push farther to the right, no doubt. We do this so within a few years it’ll balance itself out and the media here would find more of an equilibrium. The other networks have already begun realizing the viewership at its entirety moved right. They started bringing guests more diverse in their opinions, ask questions that they didn’t dare ask previously, and allow perspectives that weren’t welcome before.”

What kind of media personality are you creating for yourself? The touch and direct interviewer?

“A guest coming on the show isn’t under interrogation at the Shabak (GSS). We actually seek to hear a wide range of views. I take it that I ask questions other networks won’t ask, and I express views they won’t allow on their networks. You’ll be surprised to hear that even when an official statement comes out from the government, the Prime Minister’s office, defense Minister Galant, or any Ministry for that matter. I take the time to review, digest, and formulate a viewpoint. Otherwise, it’s just repeating headlines and soundbites that are misleading, inaccurate and designed to shape opinions quicky while ignoring important facts.”

Ironically, our interview is briefly interrupted by a phone call Tal receives from a Defense Ministry Spokesperson. She doesn’t take the call but knows what it’s about. “You see, that’s the routine we have. They’d call to complain about something that was said, or criticism that was expressed towards military decision makers and the like. But slowly they too realize there’s a new side of media here and the coverage won’t always be guaranteed as flattering. An entire political faction has questions to raise and feedback to give.”

Tal practices her belief in the platform for diverse views on a daily basis. Her co-host Shai Golden doesn’t see eye-to-eye with her on a wide variety of matters. She dismisses viewer feedback on why they two of them simply are too different to share the hosting of such an important news show. “Shai is extremely intelligent, eloquent, sharp, and bright. I learn so much from him. Of course we don’t necessarily agree on man things, but that’s precisely why we want to co-host the show and make sure both our perspectives are well heard.”

Tal and Shai both have their “Monologue Corner” where each would speak their minds on the day’s latest news and reflections.

All I Care About is Are you Allowing the IDF to Win

The Israeli Morning Show is not one that can be compared to any other Morning Show in the U.S., certainly not to the Apple TV Fiction Series. “Show me another morning show where reports back to back cover missiles from the south, armed UAVs in the north, stabbing attempt in Jerusalem, failed hostage dealmaking, fires erupting in major Northern cities, and all of that, in one morning. Fox News can absolutely learn from us what intense breaking news really looks like.”

On the morning of October 7, Tal and family were all home for Simchat Torah. By 7:45 in the morning her husband, alongside most men in shul were out to their assigned bases in the South. “The shul was empty. It was mostly women, children, and elderly men who remained behind. Reports started coming in about what was going on. I personally opted not to break the chag to watch videos that were coming in and waited for motzaei chag. But the reports were already giving us a grim picture of what was happening. It was very disheartening and sad.”

By the next day, all Israeli news channels started broadcasting around the clock. Commercials were suspended until further notice. The country was seeking to understand what was going on. Tal joined her peers in the newsroom and the days and nights started blurring and meshing together.

Tal found her new purpose.

“Since the war began, of course we want to provide as much information and commentary on the unfolding of the war and the aftermath across the country. But I noticed what our nation needed most, and still needs most is a sense of strength and national pride. To lift our heads up high and hold our backs straight. I started doing exactly that, in my host’s chair and on camera. People tune in to get the daily sense of unity. That we will win this as a nation, as one. That we want the IDF to win, to prevail and for this nation to stand up tall again.”

There’s one thing she still fears most, and it creeps on her every single morning. “I drive to work before dawn and it’s great because I have zero traffic to work, can you believe it? But we get to work and prepare the early block of news. We all pray in our hearts not to receive the dreadful “approved for release” notifications, which tend to get distributed in the 6 a.m. hour by the IDF Spokesperson, and which informs of IDF casualties. We are the ones who need to break that news and it’s heart wrenching and breathtaking in the worst ways.” Tal had experienced such moments before, when notifications or photos of soldiers she had to report on were acquaintances. She says it’s the moment you lose your breath and miss a heartbeat. But that’s the exact point where she reminds herself it’s on her to lift herself up, and remind viewers, we are here together, as one, to win this and triumph.

Time to Pack?

Tal Meir says she’s deeply disheartened and saddened by the wave of antisemitism in the world, and most shockingly in the U.S. Tal served as an Israeli emissary to a few communities in her early years after the National Service, including in the U.S. The Jewish Diaspora is near and dear to her on many levels. In the aftermath of October 7 she was astounded by the wave of support from American communities. “It was heartwarming to meet and see all those coming here especially to pay a visit and a tribute to the families, the injured, the evacuees, and to all of us.” Missions to Israel went on for months and months, including delegations from the Five Towns communities. On the flip side, the support and sympathy from the rest of the world waned quickly and was replaced by malicious antisemitism and complicit enablement or ignorance around it.

Tal believes Israel is the home of all Jewish people, including those who today place difficult obstacles to its very existence. “We are defending and fighting for the home of the Blinkens, Zukerbergs, Sanders, and all the other Jews out there setting so much strife during this existential war. It’s their children or grandchildren who will be reminded the hard way that they’re Jews, no different than in Germany in the past. This is their home they will end up resorting to for shelter when necessary.”

Tal doesn’t mince words. She attests to the fact that even on air she called out for Jewish Diaspora to seriously consider future aliyah. “My heart goes out to the Jews living abroad. It’s a major sacrifice to even entertain the idea of immigrating to Israel. It’s never the same. Not lifestyle, not the same financial conditions, not socially, and overall, a major transition. In the meantime, though, things cannot stay this way. Israel must better equip American Jews with ways to prevent antisemitism, improve public diplomacy, and grant the youth tools for better representation. At the same time, call out those maliciously preventing our triumphs doing all they can to give us more trouble. Even Zuckerberg (Mark Zuckerberg, Meta CEO) whose platform takes down my posts, poses damage.”

In conclusion to our interview, Tal was delighted to learn that many American viewers actually tune into YouTube to watch Channel 14’s various shows, including hers. For Tal Meir, the more she can do to spread unity, national pride, and Jewish courage, the more she’s determined to keep going.


5TownsJewishTimes document. – Edited by BC

{Sidebar for Tal Meir article}

The Channel That Could

Channel 14 Now (formerly Channel 20) was established in June of 2014. Financially backed by Russian investor and businessman Yitzchak Mirilashvili, the channel set its course to be on par with the highest quality standards in broadcast media and journalism. Over the years, the channel made its stance very clear and while drawing much support from a major national viewership, its opposition was outspoken about their objections.

At the peak of the Israeli social conflict over the legal reform, the opposition managed to run a campaign against the network, leading to a commercial ban among advertisers. During the summer of 2023 major companies like Strauss, P&G, Teva, Tnuva, Loreal, Isracard, and others pulled out millions of Shekels worth of ads and commercials, joining the ban.

Eran Bar Tal, Channel 14 Executive and Financial News Editor reflects:

“The delegitimization campaign that some entities apply towards Channel 14 shows the ugly side of the Israeli society, and perhaps not just Israeli. Unfortunately, none of this is new to me. Twenty-five years ago, I experienced this side when I pioneered the newspaper Makor Rishon that challenged mainstream media at the time. I had friends who stopped talking to me when I joined Channel 14 because in their view, it’s an ‘extreme network.’ But Channel 14 actually represents at least half the Jewish population in Israel, and it’d be odd to describe half the nation as extreme.

Personally, I welcome debate and exchanges of opinions and I have no desire nor will to ‘cancel’ or dismiss those with different views. It does sadden me to meet people and entities who instead of maintaining a civil exchange of thoughts, simply silence or ban those who think differently.

As for the advertisers and businesses who banned us last summer, and essentially excluded half the population in Israel, they hurt their shareholders and miss the purpose of their consortium. Businesses ought to advertise on every legal platform that their customers consume.”

Today, all major advertisers are back with commercials on Channel 14 after learning the long, hard way, it simply wasn’t worth it.

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