Julian Assange coverage from the margins offers an alternative to mainstream media
Much like the 9/11 Truthers, WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange appears to have become a bit of punching bag for many in the mainstream media.
Guardian blogger Glenn Greenwald addressed this phenomenon this week in an article entitled "The bizarre, unhealthy, blinding media contempt for Julian Assange".
Here's part of what Greenwald wrote:
Whatever else is true, establishment media outlets show unlimited personal animus toward the person who, as a panel of judges put it when they awarded him the the 2011 Martha Gellhorn prize for journalism, "has given the public more scoops than most journalists can imagine." Similarly, when the Australian version of the Pulitzers—the Walkley Foundation—awarded its highest distinction (for "Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism") to WikiLeaks in 2011, it cited the group's "courageous and controversial commitment to the finest traditions of journalism: justice through transparency," and observed: "So many eagerly took advantage of the secret cables to create more scoops in a year than most journalists could imagine in a lifetime."
He describes the British media's contempt as "bizarrely personal" with "staggering levels of mutually-reinforcing vindictiveness and groupthink when it's time to scorn an outsider like Assange".
(I wrote about the phenomenon of groupthink in 2010 in connection with the B.C. NDP's eagerness to punish dissenting MLAs, including Jenny Kwan, for questioning the leadership of Carole James.)
U.S. left-wing intellectual Noam Chomsky is one commentator who is not prone to falling into the throes of groupthink—and he has a decidedly different view of the Australian whistle-blower than the British media. He has called Assange a "true democrat" for letting the public know what governments are doing.
In an article on newmatilda.com, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology linguistics professor said he believes Assange is correct to fear the consequences of being sent from Britain to Sweden. That's because once he arrives in the Scandinavian country, "if the USA asks for him to be extradited he would 'be on the next flight'."
"Everyone in their right mind knows that this is a stepping stone to the U.S.," Chomsky told newmatilda.com.
He added that the U.S. has kept soldier Bradley Manning in custody for two years without a trial to get him to say something about Assange. Furthermore, Chomsky pointed out that Sweden cooperated with the Nazis in the Second World War and would probably even cooperate with the government of Syria if it demanded the extradition of someone who worked with rebel forces.
Assange is living in Ecuador's embassy in London after the South American country granted him political asylum.
Ecuador's foreign minister, Ricardo Patino, recently told the RT website that the British government's threat to storm the embassy remains in force.
"It is also worth saying that such people as Michael Moore, Oliver Stone and Nobel Peace laureate Adolfo Pérez Esquivel backed our decision to grant political asylum," Patino told RT. "They stood up against the blatant threat of the UK to raid the Ecuadorian embassy and arrest Julian Assange. We are grateful for this support."
The U.S.-based Center for Constitutional Rights declared in February that leaks published from a private intelligence corporation called Stratfor "indicate the United States Department of Justice has issued a secret, sealed indictment against Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks".
The CCR represents Assange and WikiLeaks in the Bradley Manning hearings.
"Rather than promoting transparency as promised, the Obama administration has aggressively pursued whistleblowers and dissenters, launching Espionage Act prosecutions twice as many times as all previous administrations in the last century combined," the CCR stated in response. "Attorney General Eric Holder should rethink this dangerous course. Instead of pursuing Julian Assange, Mr. Holder should investigate the serious crimes and abuse of government authority exposed by WikiLeaks.
Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.