Over years, it has been remarkable the quick about-face that people in the media and commentariat have done given circumstances. While the former NSA employee Edward Snowden and Wikileaks (and by extension its founder, Julian Assange) were championed as brave whistleblowers while they exposed US Governmental malfeasance under Republican administration, they suddenly became individuals of concern once the rulers had changed.
The whistleblowers suddenly became shadowy operators working under the auspices of foreign dictatorships, and agents of propagating evils.
You could see the groundwork being laid, I feel, during this interview between Snowden and HBO Last Week Tonight’s John Oliver.
… and I think there needs to be a discussion about the role of comedians in politics, but that’s a story for another day.
In this interview, Oliver holds Snowden to account for his reckless approach to releasing information, and of course it is no surprise to see that MSNBC jumped on the specific portion of the interview that stood to smear Snowden.
Then there’s the 180-flip that occurred from when Wikileaks published evidence that was condemning of George W Bush to the time that the same outlet revealed the scurrilous nature of the Hillary Clinton campaign – an action that reportedly cost the former Secretary of State her all-but-confirmed-at-the-polls Presidency. His arrest seems to have been met with glee from a press that would have previously defended his actions had the target been the correct one.
It is indicative of a brazen press that would profess impartiality while their cheerleading for one side of politics could not be so naked. Assange has his detractors (and I feel that there is certainly grounds for criticism given his recklessness and lack of responsibility when it comes to the release of information), that such condemnation of his actions is dependent on who he is targeting is probably the most galling aspect of all of this.
If the stance had been, “He was reckless, but it was important for the public to know this” then that is a sentiment I can truly agree with. However, if his title of “champion” or “villain” flip-flops dependent on the subject he scrutinises and exposes, then that truly reveals the hackery at foot.
Let’s not forget that the past two years of investigation into the supposed collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government (which has fizzled into nothing, and any continued claims of collusion should be derisively dismissed as delusional conspiracy theory) has hinged upon information that Wikileaks provided the United States about Clinton.
In effect, considering what I’ve written above, it can be concluded that the ire at Assange is not because he broke the law, but rather because he exposed the truth about the wrong person, at the wrong time.