The media’s role in persecuting Julian Assange
17 April 2019
Last week’s arrest of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange has been met with universal approval from the US print and broadcast media.
The New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal, the three major US newspapers, have all enthusiastically endorsed Assange’s arrest and extradition to the United States, for charges related to his publication of documents implicating the US government in war crimes and the mass murder of innocent people.
These newspapers’ enthusiastic approval for the effective rendition of a journalist, with the threat of torture, indefinite imprisonment and possible execution, sums up their attitude to the freedoms of speech and the press embodied in the First Amendment: they oppose it.
They are not an independent media, but propaganda mills like those that exist in any dictatorship.
Jeff Bezos’ Washington Postwas the least guarded, declaring Assange is “long overdue for personal accountability,” and reveling at his potential “conversion into a cooperating witness.” In reference to a country like the United States, which does not recognize basic international human rights agreements, extracting “cooperation” from a witness is a euphemism for torture.
But such cold, calculated editorials constitute, if this is possible, the less degraded portion of the media response to Assange’s imprisonment, which has been treated by print newspapers, the broadcast news, and, perhaps worst of all, the late night talk shows, as the occasion to heap crude insults upon a persecuted journalist who cannot defend himself.
In the “news” section of the newspapers, the line between reporting, opinion, gossip, slander and libel was totally…