While Criticizing Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, The New York Times Needs to Look at Itself

The New York Times was in classic pedantic form, promoting forth the topic that consumes it — the duplicity of those who would oppose an agenda of war and especially by the United States.

The New York Times (NYT) rose from global shame just because some time passed after the paper published multiple fabrications of highly propagandistic charges against Iraq involving “weapons of mass destruction” (WMDs) and leading to a war that has never ended. But it is clear that NYT still needs to be the paper that formally accords to the US empire.

From the lavish accommodations of its Manhattan offices in New York, where a few well-hidden corrections were granted amid a credibility imbroglio, NYT proffered a vision of Julian Assange as a superbully. In NYT’s own words, Julian Assange describes the United States as:

a nation that has achieved imperial power by proclaiming allegiance to principles of human rights while deploying its military-intelligence apparatus in “pincer” formation to “push” countries into doing its bidding, and punishing people like him who dare to speak the truth.

Notably absent from Mr. Assange’s analysis, however, was criticism of another world power, Russia, or its president, Vladimir V. Putin, who has hardly lived up to WikiLeaks’ ideal of transparency.

Notably present in the NYT “analysis,” however, was plenty of criticism of another world power, Russia, which has hardly been verified or correct and came from secret unnamed sources.

Mr. Putin’s government has cracked down … (etc etc)

If Mr. Assange appreciated the irony of the moment — denouncing censorship in an interview on Russia Today, the Kremlin-controlled English-language propaganda channel — it was not readily apparent.

It also was not needed since so many US press outlets are full of it over and over. Russian Television is Russian state propaganda no more than NYT and a few very large conglomerates are corporate propaganda. At least we get different messages by looking at both.

In July, the organization released nearly 20,000 Democratic National Committee emails suggesting that the party had conspired with Hillary Clinton’s campaign to undermine her primary opponent …

Those emails also suggested that the Hillary Clinton campaign was in bed with one of those large media companies, NBC. The DNC chair was ordering the media entity around. This cuts really close to home with NYT who got in trouble for something similar a few years back, so NYT ignores it.

United States officials say they believe with a high degree of confidence that the Democratic Party material was hacked by the Russian government, and suspect that the codes may have been stolen by the Russians as well …

There’s another one of those hardly verified claims coming from secret unnamed sources. Next, NYT lapses into what George W. Bush might call outrageous conspiracy theories.

Has WikiLeaks become a laundering machine for compromising material gathered by Russian spies? And more broadly, what precisely is the relationship between Mr. Assange and Mr. Putin’s Kremlin?

Having asked the question, NYT tries to suggest an answer:

Those questions are made all the more pointed by Russia’s prominent place in the American presidential election campaign… [Putin] publicly praised Mr. Trump, who has returned the compliment, calling for closer ties to Russia and speaking favorably of Mr. Putin’s annexation of Crimea.

The two praised each other! We have a real conspiracy here now, not just a “theory.” But it gets worse. Donald Trump called for “closer ties” to Russia. So, let’s ask a few more questions:

  • Is Donald Trump’s best selling point his consistent stance against major wars?
  • Could talk of peace and coordination with Russia be the greatest fear of the war paper?
  • Could Hillary Clinton’s most important weakness be the Bush warrior crowd surrounding her to endorse her?
  • Is the paper of record afraid of a peace conspiracy?

NYT suggests that “WikiLeaks’ document releases, along with many of Mr. Assange’s statements, have often benefited Russia, at the expense of the West.”

War is ultimately a cost — it is a cost in lives, money, and resources. War is a profit center. War is an excuse for mass austerity. War is a racket. The majority of people on both sides suffer. Besides, Russia did not move closer to the United States and its “satellite” war machine. Russia was already there.

If the authors of the latest NYT article were to check their resources, they might find a 1992 expose of a new official American policy right after the cold war — a policy to become the unipolar power, a policy of hegemony, a policy of nuclear threats and preemption — the 1992 Defense Planning Guidance [PDF]. NYT may have forgotten, but reality disturbs the NYT narrative.

Among United States officials, the emerging consensus is that Mr. Assange and WikiLeaks probably have no direct ties to Russian intelligence services. But …

BUT NYT will continue to associate the two just as surely as the Bush administration talked about Iraq and 911 until a majority of those polled believed Iraq was a suspect in the attack.

Since its inception, WikiLeaks has succeeded spectacularly on some fronts, uncovering indiscriminate killing, hypocrisy and corruption, and helping spark the Arab Spring.

That’s nice. But, but again, WikiLeaks is all bad now. “Transparency advocates” are asking questions.

There is a big difference between publishing materials from a whistle-blower like Chelsea Manning … and accepting information, even indirectly, from a foreign intelligence service seeking to advance its own powerful interests.

See? There it is again — NYT associating the leaks with Russia. Plant that in the mind right next to the memories of Iraq and WMDs.

Even if the charge was true, it would not discredit the information. WikiLeaks has never published false information.

NYT is appealing to the idea that it is the authority, and that Julian Assange and his band of amateurs don’t know what they are doing. They are being used as tools by governments who want to “hack into each other and disrupt each other’s democratic processes.”

If someone wanted to “disrupt” democratic processes, publishing an article entitled “Bernie Sanders and Rigged Elections: Sometimes You Just Lose” with total disregard of this 100-page report [PDF] would be one way to do it.


WikiLeaks has published a response to the article entitled “Response to front page New York Times article on WikiLeaks today.” Here are the highlights.

The only hard news in the article is that “American officials say Mr. Assange and WikiLeaks probably have no direct ties to Russian intelligence services.”

WikiLeaks has published more than 650,000 documents about Russian & president Putin, most of which is critical. See https://search.wikileaks.org/

It is false that the book ‘The WikiLeaks Files’ (which is about US diplomacy), contains no criticism of Russia. It contain numerous critical references to Russia including a whole chapter on US diplomatic relations with Russia with numerous references to Russian corruption.

It is false that Mr. Assange ‘muse[d] to associates about relocating’ to Russia. He openly joked in a press conference about how absurd it would be if a western press freedom activist would be forced to seek asylum in Cuba.

It is false that WikiLeaks or Mr. Assange have not “publicly criticized’ human rights abuses by Mr. Assad … It is misleading to impy [sic] that WikiLeaks simply Tweeted once about the imprisonment of the Russian musical group Pussy Riot … It is false that Russia issued a visa for Julian Assange … It is false that WikiLeaks has not produced critical material on the Assad government. WikiLeaks has published 2.3 million documents from the Assad government …

Those are some big errors, recalling the days when NYT had one front page story after another claiming that Iraq had WMDs.

Reporting is not about which wars you stoke or for whom you partisanize. Reporting is not about copying what every other large press organization is putting out — or leading the propaganda machine as NYT often does. Reporting is not about balancing every story or every viewpoint with Fox News equivalency.

Reporting is about finding and presenting useful information to the public. The best reporting is original.

NYT is part of the “corrupt machinery that is attempting to rule.” Bring the mirror.