Assange revolutionized journalism, and the elite will never forgive him

When one considers the true purpose of a journalist, summed up succinctly by the late American reporter Helen Thomas as “to seek the truth and put constant pressure on our leaders until we get answers,” it becomes more understandable how invaluable Julian Assange is to the age-old trade. It also explains why some people consider him a deep threat.

In these cynical times when many journalists are content to serve as mouthpieces for the powers-that-be, the unassuming Australian was busy holding the American superpower’s feet to the fire over issues related to war crimes, torture and high-level corruption.

That relentless pursuit of truth regardless of the personal risks involved goes far at explaining why the 47-year-old journalist and computer programmer is the subject of so much state-sponsored wrath and harassment today.

Indeed, the sheer wickedness of the Ecuadorian Embassy revoking its humanitarian asylum, thereby allowing British authorities to arrest Assange will be remembered as one of the darkest days in the annals of journalism. And the situation only promises to get worse. The fate of the WikiLeaks co-founder hangs in the balance, with British officials to decide whether or not to extradite him to the US. Once there, he could face capital punishment.

Meanwhile, Sweden has reopened a case against Assange over a 2010 rape allegation, a case that the British legal system has been accused of blatantly interfering with.

Also on
Rape allegations: TIMELINE and details of Sweden’s case against Julian Assange

What this demonstrates is that the Western powers are determined to teach a harsh lesson to anyone else who would consider practicing good old fashioned journalism, not to mention ethics, which is exactly what Assange and WikiLeaks had been doing. But the heroism and bravery did not magically begin and end with Julian Assange. In fact, the real heroes of this unfolding tragedy are the many whistleblowers – Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, and William Binney, to name just a few – who took great personal risk by turning over millions of classified documents in an effort to prove some violation of the law had occurred or was still occurring.

As compensation for their personal sacrifice, which almost always results in hefty jail time, the whistleblowers’ only request was that the media reveal the information so that civil society may respond accordingly. But the mainstream media seems to have lost its appetite for confrontation with the establishment. Indeed, how could it not when the establishment itself owns the media lock, stock and barrel? And if they own the media outlets, then it stands to reason they own the reporters, who have next to nothing in common with people like Julian Assange.

Today, there is a very particular type of journalist that the mainstream media prefers to do business with; people who have a large soft spot in their hearts and brains for unprovoked blood and violence. Take Brian Williams of MSNBC, for example, who called a 2017 missile launch against Syria from a US Navy vessel “beautiful.” Or CNN host Fareed Zakaria, commenting on the same missile strike, said “I think Donald Trump became president of the United States last night.” Is the opening of military aggression against a sovereign state what it takes to win endorsement from the media merchants of death these days?

Indeed, the media has ventured far from that golden moment on June 13, 1971 when the New York Times published the 47-volume Pentagon Papers, the top secret documents that revealed the decision-making process on the Vietnam War, because, in the words of Times publisher, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, “the people had a right to know.” 

Now compare that ethical judgment call to the way Julian Assange, a journalist with many awards under his belt, is being manhandled today by the very same publication as it links him without any proof to the so-called ‘Russiagate’ scandal, undoubtedly the most fantastic conspiracy theory to grip the public imagination since the Iraq War.The UK contributed its share to smearing and silencing Assange, cutting off his internet in the Ecuadorian Embassy after he tweeted that Britain was engaged in a “propaganda war” against Russia. 

Personally, I believe what is happening with regards to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks is just the latest chapter of the ‘legacy’ mainstream media attempting to reassert the power and influence it has been losing for many years now. In fact, the founding of WikiLeaks’ in 2006 could be seen as a watershed moment in modern media history, the year when Assange helped to revolutionize the work of journalists worldwide in their efforts to hold public officials responsible for their actions.

However, it’s important to remember that the birth of WikiLeaks did not occur in a vacuum. Around the same time, social media platforms like Facebook began to appear on the scene as cutting-edge generators of news, opinion, and information, as did alternative international news sources, which provide news consumers with additional sources of vital information.

Although logic and common sense tells us that more information is naturally a boon, as it allows people to make better-informed decisions, not everyone is thrilled about the new media landscape, as the lamentable case of Julian Assange can attest to.

Today, for any open-minded, idealistic individual who hopes to provide a better informed, less concentrated informational space, they are viewed as the enemies of a creeping technocracy that aims to bring all news and information back under its dominion. For the monsters of the media universe, they don’t see any other options but greater control since it is the only reality they have ever known. And with the available technology now at its disposal, including the manipulation of algorithms to control what the public is able to view, the journalistic work of people like Julian Assange is more critical than ever. Nothing less than truth is at stake.


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