Monday, October 25, 2010

Media Does Hit Job on WikiLeaks Founder After Iraq War Leak

WikiLeaks released some 400,000 classified government documents over the weekend that shed light on many atrocities committed during our nation’s war with Iraq — widespread civilian death, torture and misleading body counts.

Naturally, WikiLeaks’ founder, Julian Assange, has been feeling the heat in the wake of the release — but not from the government, as you might think. No, this time Assange is being smeared by the media, with various “establishment” outlets raising doubts about his mental health status and spreading tabloid-style rumors.
The New York Times has published one notable hit piece on Assange, focused on “every tawdry, scurrilous tabloid rumor about him,” as Slate’s Glenn Greenwald puts it, rather than the shocking facts of the Iraq war documents.
“Erratic and imperious behavior.” “Delusional grandeur.” “Imperious.” “A vendetta against the United States.” “Not in his right mind.” [Times reporter John F.] Burns didn’t even bother to break into Assange’s psychiatrist’s office to smear the whistle-blower as a psychologically ill, America-hating subversive and paranoid narcissist.  He just passed on snide rumors and accusations from disgruntled associates and — presto — the Nixonian smear job is complete.
CNN also did a number on Assange, inviting him to do an interview that Assange thought would be about the WikiLeaks documents, but ended up being all about personal matters. Assange walked out of that interview, and, as The Nation’s Greg Mitchell tweeted, that just put the media into more of a frenzy over his mental state: “Now [CNN's] Kurtz says Julian Assange proved he’s ‘delusional’ by walking off CNN interview because of repeated queries on personal matters.”

Intelligence community reporter Tim Shorrock took to his Twitter feed to astutely contrast Assange’s situation with that of Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers in the early 1970s and was subsequently dragged through the mud by President Nixon and Henry Kissinger: “When Dan Ellsberg leaked [the] Pentagon Papers, Nixon’s henchmen tried to destroy his reputation. Today w/Wikileaks & Assange, media does the job.”

 Posted by Lauren Kelley

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