In January 2011, the people of Tunisia effectuated an uprising which led to the ouster of Ben Ali, who had ruled the country for 23 years. Many Tunisians were well aware that the regime was autocratic and corrupt, but they were provided additional gory details about its decadent opulence by none other than WikiLeaks, the organization whose founder and editor is currently being slimed by self-important U.S. liberals. In the aftermath of the revolution, WikiLeaks was widely hailed for its role in supplying previously-concealed information to Tunisian dissidents, and with that Assange cemented for himself a place in the pantheon of great journalistic trailblazers.
A protester displays a defaced portrait of ousted president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty…www.pbs.org
Tunisians didn’t need any more reasons to protest when they took to the streets these past weeks — food prices were…foreignpolicy.com
Can any sneering anti-Assange journalist point to a report, publication, investigation, or tweet of their own which has resulted in anything of remotely comparable magnitude? I’m guessing not. These people get on their high horse and deride WikiLeaks as some kind of compromised Russian front in the tank for Trump — but compared to Assange’s record, they’re little more than a speck of sludge on the bottom of a tin can.
Here is a handy list compiled by G. Greenwald in December 2010 memorializing a (non-exhaustive) list of what WikiLeaks revealed in that year alone.
Throughout this year I’ve devoted substantial attention to WikiLeaks, particularly in the last four weeks as calls for…www.salon.com
And for those with short memories, here’s a (non-exhaustive) list of the 2016 campaign-related revelations that U.S. voters would have been deprived of but for WikiLeaks:
Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that it’s all true: the Russian government really did “hack the election,…medium.com
Notwithstanding his long, undeniable record of publishing massively consequential revelations, it’s once again fashionable in certain Serious Media circles to bash Assange and his broader enterprise. While it’s true that many of the same types were very annoyed with WikiLeaks when it came on the scene in 2010, today they have extra incentive to signal their distaste given that Assange is now seen to be in cahoots with Trump/Putin.
Go back and read any of those stories and you’ll find that WikiLeaks/Assange produced more of journalistic utility in one day than any of these obnoxious pundits could hope to produce in a lifetime. They’ve always hated Assange because he bucks convention in a variety of ways and shows that an eccentric Australian hacker holed up in an embassy somewhere can still manage to disseminate vital information at a greater rate than can these journalists sitting around in Washington D.C. or Brooklyn, or wherever else their petty little selves reside.
WikiLeaks was instrumental in facilitating the successful transit of Edward Snowden from Hong Kong to Russia in June 2013. So that’s yet another blockbuster journalistic triumph in which WikiLeaks as an institution was intimately involved. Can any of the pundits who think they’re Such Hot Stuff point to a single instance in which they did anything of remotely comparable journalistic value, such that their Twitter sniping is justified? Doubtful. I don’t think they’ve done anything notable in their lives other than secure their membership in the Media Kool Kid Klub.
I keep hearing allegations, often made without anything approaching ample substantiation or argumentation, that Assange somehow changed drastically between 2010 and 2016–7. But there’s no good evidence for this. Perhaps over the course of 7 years one’s emphasis can evolve somewhat — when you’ve received a trove of documents that bear directly on the ongoing U.S. presidential election, for instance, of course that’s going to demand the vast bulk of your time, especially given WikiLeaks’ limited resources — but if you review his various interviews, public statements, and so forth, nothing has changed markedly since 2010 (or earlier). What’s changed are the external circumstances. Preening establishment liberals weren’t so keen on Assange even back in 2010 — they spewed out plenty of smears then — but now they’re really enraged because they can tie Assange directly to TRUMP, who has driven them all into a hysterical mania that shows no signs of subsiding.
The reason why this has become so pernicious is because anything taken to be a “defense” of Russia is now taken similarly to be a defense of Trump.