Fox News’ Tucker Carlson argued last night that journalists should be up in arms and defensive of WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange because he’s “one of them.” No. He’s not.
Don’t mistake what Assange did with what journalists do. Journalists will publish leaked information. They will publish from anonymous sources. Journalists publish news. What journalists do NOT do is aid in acquiring hacked information. Journalists do NOT coordinate with a political campaign on the timing of releasing hacked information or any information. Journalists do NOT attack one campaign in order to help another. A journalist does NOT become a front for the Russian government as it wages an assault on another nation’s election.
After holing up in Ecuador’s London embassy over the past seven years, originally claiming asylum from rape charges in his native Sweden which have since been dropped, and remaining to avoid being extradited to the United States, Assange was arrested on Thursday by London police. Now, Assange is facing the threat of being deported to the U.S. over charges that he hacked into the Pentagon’s computer in 2010. Interestingly enough, an attack that Donald Trump said at the time warranted the death penalty.
Ecuador got tired of Assange and evicted him from their embassy after he continued to use WikiLeaks to attack foreign governments, attempted to swap out security cameras, spread feces on the walls, refused to clean the bathroom, and failed to look after his own cat. No word if the kitty has been evicted too.
Assange actually sued Ecuador, while being their guest, last year over “violating his fundamental rights.” He was upset Ecuador demanded to approve of his visitors and wanted information on any wireless devices they’d bring, restricted his internet usage, told him to avoid speech or activities that could be considered political or could damage relations between Ecuador and other countries, and that cat thing. It’s really annoying when you criticize governments for expelling Russians over poisoning people in London and you won’t clean the litter box.
A reporter asked Trump yesterday if he “still loved WikiLeaks,” a statement he made on the campaign trail in 2016. Trump’s response was, “I know nothing about WikiLeaks. It’s not my thing.” I find that reaction similar to Austin Power’s claim of not being familiar with the Swedish-Made Penis Enlarger saying, “That sort of thing’s not my bag, baby” despite writing a book titled, Swedish-Made Penis Enlarger Pumps And Me (This sort of thing is my bag, baby).
Despite his protests, WikiLeaks is the sort of thing that’s Trump’s bag, baby.
Trump mentioned WikiLeaks more than 100 times during the last month in the 2016 campaign. Among his comments were, “This WikiLeaks stuff is unbelievable. Boy, I love reading those WikiLeaks. Oh, we love WikiLeaks. Boy, they have really — WikiLeaks! They have revealed a lot.” Now, he’s about as familiar with WikiLeaks as he is with Carter Page, Paul Manafort, and Michael Cohen. If you could financially invest in cognitive dissonance, now would be the time.
It was Cohen who claimed that Donald Jr. informed his father of an upcoming release by WikiLeaks. In fact, the first dump of stolen emails from the Clinton campaign was on the same day the Access Hollywood tape was released of Trump bragging about assaulting women.
If Assange is extradited to the U.S., it puts more pressure on Roger Stone whose own charges stem from his coordination with Assange and WikiLeaks. Stone is angling for a presidential pardon and he may get it. Assange’s cooperation may not be credible as it’s been reported by Ecuador that he’s lost his mind. What may be more important is if Ecuador shares data they acquired on Assange during his stay, like a list of his visitors and who all he was in contact with. It will be interesting to see how Trump handles his prosecution if he is extradited to the U.S.
There are concerns how the Trump administration and his Justice Department will treat this as it applies toward journalism, which Trump has called “fake news” and has openly wished to destroy press freedom. Assange is NOT being charged for publishing information but for the hacking he did to obtain it. But again, what Assange is doesn’t have anything to do with journalism.
Julian Assange is no more a member of the journalism community than is Tucker Carlson.
Creative notes: I wasn’t really eager to do a black hole cartoon. Almost every cartoonist in the nation has done one by now and most involve Trump (though nowadays, just about every cartoon is about Trump). But I liked the WikiLeaks aspect of this. I had three roughs drawn out from my work with CNN last night and I showed them to my friend, Karen. This idea got the largest reaction from her.
Watch the video.