Thursday, November 29, 2018

The Guardian Versus Julian Assange: Which is the real investigative reporter?

The Guardian or Julian Assange and Wikileaks: Which is the real investigative publisher? (Or "How the Guardian fakes news").

Everybody loves the Guardian sometimes. Really! The guardian, at least, is not a partisan publication, but that doesn't mean it is a reliable source either. The Guardian, in my opinion, is out for the big story, whatever will sell copy: Their axe swings every direction.

A current example exists in the recent article, "Manafort held secret talks with Assange in Ecuadorian embassy, sources say." [Luke Harding and Dan Collyns in Quito, Tue 27 Nov 2018 09.23 EST] The main gist is that President Trump colluded with Russians, but prominently it quotes (tainted source) Alex Jones to claim that without Assange, Trump would not be president.

The very first sentence is a giveaway as to what one should expect throughout the article: "Sources Say."  The authors cite anonymous sources throughout the article.  An occasional unnamed source might be forgiven, but the following list of quotes are clearly clues that this may be yellow journalism: Especially in the absence of any other, verifiable sources. I also inserted a few comments.
  • "Sources say ..."
  • "One source said ..." (Unnamed) 
  • "Likely to come under scrutiny" (clearly an opinion and not sourced)
  • Assange "could interest Robert Mueller ... who is investigating alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia."
  • "A well placed source said ..."  (No source)
  • Months after an alleged meeting  (it would seem they don't really know whether such a meeting took place)
  • Re: stolen docs (Wikileaks) released a stash of Democratic emails stolen by Russian intelligence officers. (Did this happened as described? Even if true it may have been in the nation's best interest to know what was going on behind the scenes in American government). 
  •  Once source said. "Manafort’s 2016 visit to Assange lasted about 40 minutes, one source said ..." Unnamed source. 
  • "Manafort, 69, denies involvement in the hack and says the claim is “100% false” ligence officers for carrying out the hack, which began in March 2016.  (Note that Julian Assange was not indicted so far as we know.)
  • Visitor logs:  "Visitors normally register with embassy security guards and show their passports. Sources in Ecuador, however, say Manafort was not logged." (Another buried admission of fact)
  • Reason unclear: "Why Manafort might have sought out Assange in 2013 is unclear." Indeed it is unclear. (Another buried admission) 
  • No link to Assange:The article claims that "After failed attempts, Vladimir Putin’s spies sent the documents in mid-July to WikiLeaks as an encrypted attachment." However, the linked source does not mention Assange. Hmm. Why not? False attribution?
  • One person familiar with WikiLeaks (there you go again, unsourced claims) ,,, 
  • Assumed motivation:  (Unnamed source) ... said Assange was motivated to damage the Democrats campaign because he believed a future Trump administration would be less likely to seek his extradition on possible charges of espionage. (Whether true or not, this is purely conjecture. But it would make sense to avoid arrest by hostile enemies.
  • This fate "had hung over Assange since 2010, when he released confidential US state department cables. It contributed to his decision to take refuge in the embassy. (Again, assumes motivation but likely true. 
  • A New Direction: Throughout, the article had implied that Assange was collaborating with the Russians because of his hatred for Clinton. Now they change focus.
  • Ecuador: They begin to talk about Assange's appeal for refuge in Ecuador. They say that he is "protecting his own skin." Maybe so, but again, it seems he may have had good reason to fear for his freedom.  Seeking refuge does not imply guilt, but danger. 
  • Trump liked the Clinton emails: "Trump warmly welcomed the dump of DNC emails ... (Well of course he welcomed them, and anything else that might have harmed his opponent. It seems like a big leap to say that therefore Assange must have been colluding with Russians to defraud Americans. It seemed clear from statements that Assange made, that he believed the emails would result in the arrest of Clinton. He was wrong about that it seems. At least for now. 
  • No pardon: Trump has not pardoned Assange for any real or imagined tampering with the elections. In fact, Trump's adminstration refused to reach a "deal" with Assange.
  • Filing suggested: "Last week a court filing released in error suggested that the US justice department had secretly charged Assange with a criminal offence. Written by the assistant US attorney, Kellen Dwyer, the document did not say what Assange had been charged with or when the alleged offence took place.
The above seems to me like a pretty weak evidence to demonstrate that Assange colluded with Russians and changed the outcome of our elections as implied in the article. Surely he did try to prevent Clinton from being elected. It seems a bit of a stretch to imply that he did it single handedly. It seems like even more of a stretch to claim that his intent was join forces with an evil empire to squelch the will of most Americans. Surely he did not want Clinton to win. Nor did a lot of other people. Even if he did talk to someone, which has not yet been demonstrated to my satisfaction, it would not prove any of the implied allegations in The Guardian's piggybacked article. Sheesh, can't they even write their own articles? I guess not, if they want to maintain a veneer of deniability. 

So there you have it folks. So far it appears to be a it "nothing" burger, but only time will tell for sure. Regardless, folks, this is about as yellow as unsourced, yellow journalism can get. Meanwhile, "The Guardian,: or Julian Assange and Wikileaks: Which is the real investigative publisher? 

Disclaimer: This article will also appear on one of my Facebook pages.

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