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January 25, 2012 9:47 AM   Subscribe

Yesterday, news broke Wikileaks founder Julian Assange announced a 10-episode television show that will feature "key political players, thinkers and revolutionaries." Today it was announced that the show will be broadcast by the Kremlin funded English language channel Russia Today. The press seems unimpressed with Wikileaks' chosen distribution channel.
posted by to sir with millipedes (94 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Russia Today is awesome entertainment. The presenters also have very urbane accents (and the female presenters are drop-dead gorgeous) which makes the things they say all the more hilarious.

As an aside, I'm always amazed at how many of my FB friends post links to RT as if they are real news stories.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:52 AM on January 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


Man the jealousy and petty envy of the mainstream press when faced with someone who actually does their job in the proper way knows no boundary.
posted by spicynuts at 9:54 AM on January 25, 2012 [21 favorites]


Well, of course the press is going to use every opportunity to belittle WikiLeaks. I imagine the Holy Roman Empire had a thing or two to say about Martin Luther as well.
posted by Edogy at 9:54 AM on January 25, 2012 [11 favorites]


I didn't say it was surprising, I said it knows no bounds.
posted by spicynuts at 9:55 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I was just saying that in response to the post, not your comment, spicynuts. I agree with you.
posted by Edogy at 10:00 AM on January 25, 2012


To be fair to Russia Today, it does have more credibility than say, Coast to Coast AM or Alex Jones.

Maybe.
posted by kmz at 10:00 AM on January 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Poisoning the well
posted by DU at 10:03 AM on January 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


The media not being impressed with this is like how kids in high school are not impressed with where you bought your clothes.
posted by feloniousmonk at 10:03 AM on January 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Pshaw, it's like you guys expect the journalists to be "truth vigilantes" or something.
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:05 AM on January 25, 2012 [14 favorites]


If I were going to be a journalist for a Kremlin-backed outfit, I would demand a first-floor office.
posted by yerfatma at 10:09 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Russia Today having an obvious agenda doesn't make it different from CNN or MSNBC or Fox. It only looks different because it's not the same agenda you're used to.
posted by zjacreman at 10:11 AM on January 25, 2012 [17 favorites]


Edogy: “Well, of course the press is going to use every opportunity to belittle WikiLeaks. I imagine the Holy Roman Empire had a thing or two to say about Martin Luther as well.”

Actually, the Holy Roman Empire was surprisingly silent when Martin Luther signed a deal for a TV miniseries to be distributed by Albert of Hohenzollern, the Archbishop of Mainz.
posted by koeselitz at 10:11 AM on January 25, 2012 [22 favorites]


To be fair, people leaked shit to WikiLeaks, Assange released some of it, and the media reported on it. WikiLeaks was all over the news for months, not like there was some sort of media blackout. You can't fault the entire mainstream press because some dude went to Assange instead of them, it isn't like Assange is out in the field ferreting out the truth. He is just releasing what people give him.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:15 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


You can't fault the entire mainstream press because some dude went to Assange instead of them...

I wonder if you can fault the corporate owners of the mainstream press. As in "hell no are we giving that guy a platform to pull the rug out from under us! and if someone else gives him that platform, shred it!"
posted by DU at 10:17 AM on January 25, 2012


I imagine the Holy Roman Empire had a thing or two to say about Martin Luther as well.

Parts of the HRE were quite supportive of Luther. Jan Huss, on the other hand, well, they did a number on him....
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:21 AM on January 25, 2012


Man the jealousy and petty envy of the mainstream press when faced with someone who actually does their job in the proper way knows no boundary.
My only knowledge of Russia Today comes from viewing some of their coverage of the final collapse of Ghaddafi, in which they were essentially like "Nothing to see here, reports of rebels existing are totally false".
posted by Flunkie at 10:22 AM on January 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


I feel like the central question here is really this: it's 2012. Who needs distribution companies and broadcast channels to release a video-format show? It doesn't really make sense, particularly for an organization that seems savvy to the potential of mass distribution over the internet. But then I guess this is an extension of Assange's feeling that he needed to go to "traditional news outlets" to get the message out about Wikileaks in the first place.
posted by koeselitz at 10:22 AM on January 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ad hominem, I think you need to do a little more digging on who had the info that Assange published prior to him and why it wasn't published.
posted by spicynuts at 10:22 AM on January 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Russia Today having an obvious agenda doesn't make it different from CNN or MSNBC or Fox. It only looks different because it's not the same agenda you're used to.

So you're saying that all the "sheeple" in this thread who are objecting to RT are instead getting their news from CNN and MSNBC?
posted by KokuRyu at 10:22 AM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I look forward to the episode focusing on the Russian government.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:22 AM on January 25, 2012 [21 favorites]


He's just pissed off that Occupy and Megaupload have replaced him as the annoying cause celebre of the day.
posted by Artw at 10:26 AM on January 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


We don't know the whole story about how Assange ended up with this job. The implication here in the comments is that he was driven to desperation by the evil mainstream media. I think the mainstream media is far more cynical, if they think it will bring in ratings, they will put anyone on the air, even Assange.

Also, how the hell do we know what "the press" thinks, what we have here are a link to Forbes, the Atlantic and whatever paidcontent.org is. The Atlantic isn't even critical, just calls them "strange bedfellows". Isn't much of a shredding so far. Maybe we will see the knives come out but I think Assange already had his moment and nobody really cares anymore, which of course is a bad thing.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:28 AM on January 25, 2012


Ad hominem, I think you need to do a little more digging on who had the info that Assange published prior to him and why it wasn't published

Which info, you mean the info Manning leaked directly to WikiLeaks? I am not trying to shit on Assange here. If you know something I don't, spit it out. Don't imply I don't know what I am talking about by saying I should do "some digging". What information was had by who and why didn't they publish it.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:31 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Re: why use a broadcaster : wikileaks other funding sources have been cut off and I would guess that Russian channel are paying.
posted by memebake at 10:34 AM on January 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


Guess what?

Putting aside the issue of whether Assange and Wikileaks are totally awesome or otherwise, one can look askance at Russia Today without being a lapdog of the mainstream press.

Guess what else?

When the mainstream press also looks askance at Russia Today, one must indeed consider the source. But the mainstream press can also be right. And if the mainstream press did not observe the limitations of Russia Today, it would be failing again to scrutinize sources and viewpoints, just what it has previously failed to do, and which attracted so much fair criticism of it.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 10:35 AM on January 25, 2012 [15 favorites]


Russia Today having an obvious agenda doesn't make it different from CNN or MSNBC or Fox.

"Fox News is just as bad" isn't really a great defense of RT, you know.

I look forward to the episode focusing on the Russian government.

"Shocking exposé: Vladimir Putin personally rescued 5 babies and 4 kittens from a fire, but covered it up to retain his humble public image! Also, find out how dissident journalists shot themselves multiple times in a dastardly scheme to discredit Putin!"
posted by kmz at 10:38 AM on January 25, 2012 [13 favorites]


I get all my science news from Pravda.
posted by Artw at 10:39 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Holding out for a One True and Unbiased News Source is a fool's errand. What is needed is not unbiased news sources. What is needed is multiple news sources with varied and uncoupled biases. Checks and balances.
posted by DU at 10:41 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought sure that Al Gore would broadcast it on CurrentTV.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:42 AM on January 25, 2012


You can't fault the entire mainstream press because some dude went to Assange instead of them, it isn't like Assange is out in the field ferreting out the truth. He is just releasing what people give him.

Well,he did a bit more than that, like realising the increasing importance of large scale leaks and building a cutting edge platform to independtly enable leaks, check them and publish them, while the mainstream (us) press would not have touched something like Collateral Murder with a barge pole out of fear and deference.

That said this TV series sounds like a questionable move
posted by memebake at 10:45 AM on January 25, 2012


And with this, Julian Assange finally jumped the shark.
posted by Skeptic at 10:47 AM on January 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


The Atlantic headline calls it Propapanda. I thought at first it was some kind of weird neologism but now realize it just means propaganda without proper spelling.

Which, come to think of it, pretty much describes most of the media available to us these days.
posted by stefanie at 10:47 AM on January 25, 2012 [8 favorites]


Judge Judy must have been booked up.
posted by Ardiril at 10:48 AM on January 25, 2012


Why couldn't Assange simply co-host ❤ Democracy Now! With Amy Goodman ❤ ?
posted by KokuRyu at 10:48 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Julian Assange: "Today on PravdaLeaks, workers of the 45th Volgograd Tractor Plant leak video of glorious leader Vladimir Putin saving kitten from fire. Putin: 'I suppressed video because I did not want to toot own horn.' We now go to cowardly liberal Grigori Yavlinsky for his reaction."
posted by Behemoth at 10:50 AM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


What is needed is multiple news sources with varied and uncoupled biases.

Better are news sources that state their biases clearly, eg 'this newspaper has always supported X, so we condemn this latest Y.' RT has its merits, but transparency isn't among them.
posted by anigbrowl at 10:52 AM on January 25, 2012



Man the jealousy and petty envy of the mainstream press when faced with someone who actually does their job in the proper way knows no boundary.

Speaking as a pawn of the mainstream press, who write my paycheques: That is goofy.
posted by bicyclefish at 10:53 AM on January 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


What's to be impressed about? Honestly.
posted by VicNebulous at 10:55 AM on January 25, 2012


Ok, I disagree they wouldn't have touched the collateral murder Video, they reported on it eventually. They also showed the abu ghraib photos on an endless loop I'm not saying they aren't incompetent, I just don't think they are out to get Assange.

I also have issues with WikiLeaks as a platform. They had to make special arrangement for Manning did they not? It is also pretty lame that that cutting off their credit card processing leaves them dead in the water, talk about single line of attack. You cannot base your operation on the same corporations you are going to leak info on, that is just dumb.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:55 AM on January 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Atlantic headline calls it Propapanda

No wonder press journalism is going to the dogs, with crap neologisms like that.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:55 AM on January 25, 2012


It's only Propapanda when it comes from the Chinese government.
posted by dortmunder at 10:58 AM on January 25, 2012


I'm pretty sure propapanda is specifically outlawed by the international Using Cute Animals Is No Fair Treaty.
posted by kmz at 11:01 AM on January 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's only Propapanda when it comes from the Chinese government.

I often imagine that people who say this sort of thing somehow think "the rest of us" consume media uncritically (and are therefore to stupid to express a "valid" opinion).

The truth is, most people are able to consume "news" critically. Just because some of us are critical (but not hostile to) Assange does not make us brainwashed or whatever.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:02 AM on January 25, 2012


Now now, let's not turn this into a kangaroo court, mate.
posted by anigbrowl at 11:02 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Propapanda eats, shoots protestors, leaves.
posted by Edogy at 11:03 AM on January 25, 2012 [22 favorites]


Russia Today having an obvious agenda doesn't make it different from CNN or MSNBC or Fox.

You know, this is like saying "Tiger Woods being really good at golf doesn't make him different from John Daly or my friend Pongo Twistleton, who won the local club competition two years straight!"

If you can't discriminate between Russia Today, Fox and CNN then you're just failing to think critically. The view from 10,000 feet isn't always the best one for close textual analysis.
posted by yoink at 11:03 AM on January 25, 2012 [10 favorites]


As an aside, I'm always amazed at how many of my FB friends post links to RT as if they are real news stories.
RT has been going through a transition - previously, it had been run like an old-fashioned blatant propaganda news channel with a ton of conspiracy theorists and crackpot experts thrown in. They've more recently been trying to become more serious, at least in parts, with much more credible experts and mainstream commentators being interviewed. Trying to follow the successful Al-Jazeera model more, I think.
posted by Bwithh at 11:03 AM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's only Propapanda when it comes from the Chinese government.

I often imagine that people who say this sort of thing somehow think "the rest of us" consume media uncritically


I think people who say this sort of thing strongly associate pandas with China. And like puns.
posted by yoink at 11:04 AM on January 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Ah, rats. I apologize for being a pompous nitwit.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:05 AM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


It seems to wax and wane, perhaps in some proportion to Putin's popularity. When I started watching RT maybe 5 years ago, it was somewhat nationalist but otherwise fairly dry news channel most of the time; consistently critical of the Bush administration, say, but on fairly rational grounds most of the time. It seems to have gotten a lot wackier in the last few years, though obviously this is merely a personal perception.
posted by anigbrowl at 11:11 AM on January 25, 2012




I think you're missing the point: Assange (as memebake said) is thus raising money and securing some rather powerful protection. Note that his original funding has been cut off due to actions of the US government and US companies, that would be called censorship had they originated from the Kremlin and involved, say, leaks of Russian atrocities in Chechnya, while he has received death threats from members of the US political establishment, and one of his main sources is imprisoned, pretty much without due process. If RTV offers cash to support W/L and protection from rogue superpowers, there's not much one can accuse JA of.
posted by talos at 11:32 AM on January 25, 2012 [6 favorites]




If RTV offers cash to support W/L and protection from rogue superpowers, there's not much one can accuse JA of.

A poor strategic move that will lower his credibility outside of a sturdy-but-shrinking circle of people already favourably disposed toward him? Wiki leaks worked on trust --- people trusted it more than the mainstream press to keep their whistle blowing anonymous. If it was biased, it was biased in favour of anarchy, in the political sense. Putin, and Putin's pet channel, ain't that, whatever else might be said in their favor.
posted by Diablevert at 11:39 AM on January 25, 2012


Assange (as memebake said) is thus raising money and securing some rather powerful protection.

Considering that the Russian government is notoriously unable or unwilling to protect its own independent journalists, that is an unlikely protector he's seeking. Unless what he has in mind, of course, is not independent journalism.
posted by Skeptic at 11:43 AM on January 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


They've more recently been trying to become more serious, at least in parts, with much more credible experts and mainstream commentators being interviewed.

Like Alex Jones?
posted by to sir with millipedes at 11:53 AM on January 25, 2012


This whole thing is just so emblematic of two empires in decline. We don't threaten each other with nukes anymore; they just get to roast us publicly with our own poorly-protected intelligence, while we chuckle at their state-dominated media.

I think the US and Russia should have more rap battles. That would be awesome.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:34 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


MY NAMES UNITED STATES AND IM HERE TO SAY
THE WAY YOU TREAT YOUR JOURNALISTS IS NOT OK
YOU ALWAYS ACT REAL ROUGH AND SHOOT THEM DEAD
YOU ACT LIKE YOU AINT RIGHT IN THE HEAD
SO COME ON NOW PUTIN, JUST CHILL IT OUT
AND WELL TELL YOU WHAT DIPLOMACY IS ALL ABOUT.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 12:37 PM on January 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


Russia Today having an obvious agenda doesn't make it different from CNN or MSNBC or Fox. It only looks different because it's not the same agenda you're used to.

Yeah, but they're a lot more ham-fisted about it.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:41 PM on January 25, 2012


I also have issues with WikiLeaks as a platform. They had to make special arrangement for Manning did they not? It is also pretty lame that that cutting off their credit card processing leaves them dead in the water, talk about single line of attack. You cannot base your operation on the same corporations you are going to leak info on, that is just dumb.

Yeah! They totally should have just set up a counterfeiting operation to pay the bills! That would have been way better if they'd done it like I think it should have been done in retrospect!

Really, the whole show just demonstrated how heavily stacked the system is towards these huge financial corporations. Air the US's dirty laundry and the entire world financial apparatus will rise up against you. If you know of alternative funding methods that would have been feasible on the scale the W/L required, I'm all ears... They had avenues for anonymous cash donations, but it's really just not a realistic way to take large donations. Maybe they should have just used bitcoins, amirite?
posted by kaibutsu at 1:12 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


How much funding does Anonymous have.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:17 PM on January 25, 2012


How much funding does Anonymous have.

It's over... a certain number.
posted by JHarris at 1:46 PM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


RT did an excellent job of covering the early days of the OWS movement at Zuccotti park. So much so that I bookmarked them and realized here was a pretty good outlet for rather unfiltered and unspun news from around the world.

They seem to have a not inconsiderable worldwide news network, with correspondents reporting from all major cities. I think the presence of such a structure, and a steady sizable income made this a pretty easy decision.

Also, it's only 10-episodes, it's not like they own him.
posted by Skygazer at 2:02 PM on January 25, 2012


How much funding does Anonymous have.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:17 PM on January 25 [+] [!]


*Checks the loose change amongst the socks on top of the bureau*

I got $1.19.

I can get more though.


(Anon, memail me, bro.)
posted by Skygazer at 2:05 PM on January 25, 2012


talos: "If RTV offers cash to support W/L and protection from rogue superpowers, there's not much one can accuse JA of."

You guys are really a number. Julian Assange goes on the Kremlin payroll and you manage to not only whitewash that, but place 100% of the blame on the US and the "mainstream media". Congratulations, really.
posted by falameufilho at 2:37 PM on January 25, 2012


Skygazer: "So much so that I bookmarked them and realized here was a pretty good outlet for rather unfiltered and unspun news from around the world."

Like Libya.
posted by falameufilho at 2:41 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


How much funding does Anonymous have.

Approximately three hundred fifty of them.
posted by Edogy at 3:07 PM on January 25, 2012


Falameufilho: Like Libya.

I don't know what that means. Did they do a bad/spun job reporting on Libya these last months?
posted by Skygazer at 3:19 PM on January 25, 2012


RT did an excellent job of covering the early days of the OWS movement at Zuccotti park. So much so that I bookmarked them and realized here was a pretty good outlet for rather unfiltered and unspun news from around the world.

Yeah, um, they're not.

Everything -- and I mean everything -- they broadcast that has anything to do with Russia and its policies is blatantly pro-Putin and anti-Everything-Putin-Is-Against.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:21 PM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


He's in the UK still, right? Does he have a work visa?
posted by DangerIsMyMiddleName at 3:22 PM on January 25, 2012


Russia today is a state funded propaganda / public relations operation targeted at foreign viewers. Its news is definitely filtered and spun. That is its reason for existing. The money would be a real waste of government funds if it wasn't. The nice thing about it is that you always at least know how it is filtered and spun. There's no "fair and balanced" nonsense, you know exactly what it is.

The reporting has the goal of promoting the legitimacy of the Russian establishment. Also, deligitimizing western governments is a priority (especially the US, frequently in "and you are lynching Negroes" format) along with discouraging separatist movements or revolutions that might set a bad precedent for Russian stability (with Russian backed exceptions like South Ossetia).

The front page of their website at any given time shows this pretty clearly. Right now for instance we have these headlines on the front page...
1. Promoting Russian establishment:
"‘I’m ready to die for my ideals’ - Medvedev"
"Putin national policy overview sparks new patriotic movement"

2. Deligitimizing Western Govs:
"Castro calls the GOP race a 'competition of idiocy'"
"Gref advises Greece to leave Euro"
"George Soros predicts riots, police state and class war for America"

3. Discouraging revolution/separatism
"Egypt's costly revolution"
"Syrians won’t go along with Obama’s wishes" (also a 2)

There's also a not-so-negative article about the end of state of emergency in Egypt that breaks the mold a bit.
posted by Winnemac at 3:47 PM on January 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't know what that means. Did they do a bad/spun job reporting on Libya these last months?

Their coverage was so bad that if you watched RT exclusively, you wouldn't be able to tell why anyone was upset with Gadhafi, much less rioting or fighting against him, until days after it was acknowledged by pretty much every other news source, at least according to the feeds I watched for laughs.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 3:53 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, it's only 10-episodes, it's not like they own him.

Wouldn't want to be him if Putin decides otherwise.

Beware men with umbrellas, and sushi restaurants.
posted by Artw at 4:14 PM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sys Rq: Everything -- and I mean everything -- they broadcast that has anything to do with Russia and its policies is blatantly pro-Putin and anti-Everything-Putin-Is-Against.


Yikes. I stand corrected.
posted by Skygazer at 4:32 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


The nice thing about it is that you always at least know how it is filtered and spun. There's no "fair and balanced" nonsense, you know exactly what it is.

Apparently not everyone knows what it is. It's shocking how few people know what or who is behind RT. Just look at the impressive ignorance upthread about how they're "just as bad as..." Glad I don't have to participate in that particular race to the bottom.

The propapandas were funny though.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 5:12 PM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Glad I don't have to participate in that particular race to the bottom.

Meaning?
posted by Skygazer at 5:27 PM on January 25, 2012


That's fascinating. RT is a channel which DISH Network recently added to its lineup. (They add stuff all the time, it just appears in the listings, you never know what it is until you check it out.) I haven't watched it yet, but it's in my preferred channel listing.

The lineup for all day every day is "Documentary" and "News" in alternating 30-minute blocks. With generic program descriptions for each.

I wonder if this Wikileaks series is going to be listed as such or if it will just randomly appear under "Documentary".
posted by hippybear at 5:35 PM on January 25, 2012


Wait: How do we get from "RT broadcasts 10 episodes of some show Assange produces", to "he is owned by Putin"? It isn't like RT will have any editorial control, now, is it? He has secured cash from a TV channel with a massive audience, it isn't even obvious to me from the linked articles that the shows won't be distributed through the web, or possibly other venues as well: it's just that RT will have the right to air them first.

Speaking of guest-revolutionaries: It would be too much to ask I suppose that he makes a point of having as a guest someone like Udaltsov, just to see how RT reacts...
posted by talos at 5:52 PM on January 25, 2012


Russia Today having an obvious agenda doesn't make it different from CNN or MSNBC or Fox. It only looks different because it's not the same agenda you're used to.

I noticed the same thing when I stumbled upon it on an unmarked channel on my cable. "What's this weird news program?" I thought, and then, "wait, did they just say something about capitalist propaganda?"

I then noted that it sounded exactly like Fox News Channel to me. Mostly competent reporting, a little spin, with the occasional zinger thrown in. The only difference was the side of the aisle from which the zingers were being lobbed.

Fox hires Sarah Palin, RT hires Assange.
posted by gjc at 6:48 PM on January 25, 2012


What is Assange trying to accomplish? If he's on RT, he sacrifices a certain degree of credibility with Western audiences. And yet, due to editorial constraints, he will really only be able to produce exposes on the West. It seems kind of self-defeating. He'll just be throwing red meat to Russian nationalists.

Imagine a show on Fox whose entire mandate is to expose Russian corruption. Would it help to reform Russia or just rile-up anti-Russian sentiment among American conservatives? It wouldn't matter whether it was true or false; the Russians who would hear about such a show would already know about Fox.

By the way, I have to say that to sir with millipedes is a very amusing handle.
posted by Edgewise at 7:12 PM on January 25, 2012




What is Assange trying to accomplish? If he's on RT, he sacrifices a certain degree of credibility with Western audiences. And yet, due to editorial constraints, he will really only be able to produce exposes on the West. It seems kind of self-defeating. He'll just be throwing red meat to Russian nationalists.

Unless this is just one TV channel of many Wikileaks is going to use to broadcast information, I'm afraid he sacrifices more than a certain degree of credibility. This will be incredibly easy to spin against Wikileaks, and honestly it's with good reason.

I'm quite often critical of the Obama administration (and previous ones), and supportive of Wikileaks. But I try to be honest, and I'm afraid they've lost a lot of credibility here.

First, it's hypocritical to take the stance which I and many others have taken before that it's just money he's accepting, that there will be no undue influence. There's always influence, whether it's RT and Wikileaks, Cheney and Halliburton, or Obama and Goldman Sachs.

Second, if this was any other talking head on Fox, we would mock them mercilessly, because of the organization they have aligned themselves with. Same here.

If nothing else, it's sending a message that differs from the organizations previous stance that it was independent and equally critical of all governments.

Finally, it has the chance to do real harm to the Manning defense, both in the public eye and possibly in court. I realize the true harm comes from the Obama administration's war against leakers, and the chilling effect that creates, but this will make it more difficult to explain that to people.

I realize that this helps spread the Wikileaks message of transparency and honesty in government, and brings a bigger audience to the lies they expose. I also realize that RT is just one of the many broadcast channels that governments use to spread their propaganda, whether it's RT for Russia, Al Jazeera for Qatar or the Voice of America for the US. But choosing just one to align yourself with does just that.

The leaks may still be truthful, and they may still serve a purpose, but that purpose seems to have subtly changed now.
posted by formless at 10:53 PM on January 25, 2012


Wikileaks tweets: "..show is interdependently produced.. Broadcasters license, only. "

Sounds like a similar strategy to the Amazon servers incident, where they showed Amazon doing the bidding of the US Government despite the fact no law was being broken. In this instance, delaying full disclosure to reveal the negative bias in the mainstream media against JA.

Or maybe they just keep getting lucky...
posted by bigZLiLk at 1:14 AM on January 26, 2012


Or maybe they just keep getting lucky...

"Lucky" is not the way I would describe the trajectory for either Assange or Wikileaks.

The notion of negative bias in the mainstream media against Julian Assange is nuts. The only reason people have a negative opinion of him is because of the tyrannical, insane, hypocritical, contradictory way he's handled himself since Wikileaks got any kind of notoriety. His ego, and his patent unwillingness or inability to be considered and careful with the information are what burned all his bridges with the major newspapers he was working with and many within his own organization. It's not a secret and it's pretty fucking well documented.

I am totally in favor of a wikileaks-like entity that serves as a check against corrupt powerbrokers. But Assange and Wikileaks basically lost my support when they let the unredacted names in the diplomatic cables get out through sheer stupidity and negligence. And sorry, guys, blaming the non-techie writers at the Guardian because you do a shit job of securing incredibly sensitive data is a dog that just doesn't hunt, in my opinion.

This doesn't look much like delaying full disclosure to reveal bias -- it looks to me like an organization trying to cover its ass after it was rightly criticized for a credibility damaging move. What I don't understand is why, when an MSNBC or The New York Times or NPR broadcasts something that doesn't represent the viewpoints of your average mefite, they are so quick to say "THIS IS BECAUSE THEY ARE CORPORATE PUPPETS!" But when Julian Assange gets a TV show on the international propaganda arm of the Kremlin, people are suggesting, without a hint of sarcasm "ITS A LONG CON TO SHOW AMERICAN HYPOCRISY LOL."
posted by to sir with millipedes at 3:20 AM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


What I don't understand is why, when an MSNBC or The New York Times or NPR broadcasts something that doesn't represent the viewpoints of your average mefite, they are so quick to say "THIS IS BECAUSE THEY ARE CORPORATE PUPPETS!"
That's a seriously broad brush you're using there.
posted by Skygazer at 3:51 AM on January 26, 2012


But when Julian Assange gets a TV show on the international propaganda arm of the Kremlin, people are suggesting, without a hint of sarcasm "ITS A LONG CON TO SHOW AMERICAN HYPOCRISY LOL."
Well, I can't speak for anyone else, but in spite of his shortcomings and huge ego, and recklessness that developed toward the end there when the news agencies parted ways with him, Assange is a hero to me and so is Bradley Manning. Wikileaks has done something mindbogglingly huge and courageous in revealing so many power structures. elites and alliances of a money and political nature round the world.

Again, say what you will about his shortcomings, but Assange and Wikileaks is for me the precipitating event for a huge re-alignment in the worlds political make up. I attribute the Arab spring at least partially to Wikileaks, as well as the Occupy movement. Wikileaks pretty much removed the well maintained veil of secrecy of the 1% on a global scale.

It might just be one of those huge moments in human history like development of the printing press by gutenberg or the reformation lead my Martin Luther, both individuals who gave the ruling power structures of their time considerable grief and eventually lead to huge shifts in power structures...because both, like Assange were concerned with exposing truth.

This move with RT is troubling, but it remains to be seen how it shakes out and what the deal is there, why is it to be assumed he doesn't have a sizable amount of editorial control? My concern is that he will be a weapon of the Kremlin one way or another.
posted by Skygazer at 4:12 AM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks for sailing past the point on that one.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 4:13 AM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe you're right. Maybe the show will be completely independently produced. But even if he does have editorial control, he's damaging his own brand by appearing on a station that is known for being propagandistic for Russia. That's not going to come out in the wash.

As for a huge re-alignment in the world's political make-up, WikiLeaks' involvement or not I think you're being awfully generous with that assessment. These huge shifts in power structures. I can haz them?
posted by to sir with millipedes at 4:28 AM on January 26, 2012


I do not understand the antipathy directed towards Assange. I'm sure it makes sense to those in the US media bubble that this man is an enemy of freedom or something but to an outside observer the apparent need for the US power structure to squish this one individual is a bit unseemly

Assange is really not that important. The diplomatic cables that were released were diplomatically embarrassing but hardly on the level of state secrets. More than one security analyst has admitted that it's stuff that everyone already knew. So what is this all about?

Let me posit a theory.

The US power structure has one very big problem and that is that each year there are fewer and fewer credible enemies of US hegemony; people would rather be with the US than against it. The curious outcome of success is that insignificant threats must be met with overwhelming force to justify spending billions of dollars a year on a security apparatus that responds to threats.

What happened is that Assange dented the ego of a bunch of Washington control freaks and in response they unleashed a squadron of state department drones on him just because he was the biggest threat they had.

And Assange is screwed. He is losing a very long and costly legal game for his freedom against the full force of the US state department and the only thing keeping him from an indefinite detention is his legal defence to avoid extradation proceedings in the UK.

To keep out of Gitmo the man needs to keep paying the legal bills and that's a problem because finding work that pays the bills and suits his situation isn't an easy proposition. Being in home detention is tricky but the more intractable problem is finding an employer that is willing to be automatically added to the US State department shitlist and face the consequences of that.

And so finally we come to RT who are already on the State department shitlist, no doubt for pissing off the same Washington control freaks as Assange.

RT is the best choice out of a short list. It's less about synergy and more about pragmatism.
posted by vicx at 6:52 AM on January 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


On the relative merits of RT versus Fox I am surprised that one would be considered less of a shill than the other. I.e. Fox's Iraq War news coverage put Pravda's *1980s* Afghanistan war coverage to shame as a propaganda mechanism, let alone RT's current coverage of issues relevant to the Putin oligarchy.
There is some sort of US bias in this discussion here: the fact that people are more familiar with a certain kind and aesthetic of propaganda blinds them to the fact that for a huge part of the World *CNN*, let alone Fox, is not considered less of a propaganda machine for American foreign policy interests, than RT is for Russia's. So while people here are right that appearing on RT might damage JA's credibility with a certain part of US and to a certain extent European audiences (although I would be willing to wager that there are more 911 truthers and Alex Jones fans out there, than there are Foreign Policy readers in the US general population), I would be amazed if this also holds among, say, Chinese, Brazilian or Nigerian audiences. In fact, given that he is under house arrest and is being hounded by all sorts of different government and corporate entities (on a scale and in a manner that should be causing the FSB envy), there weren't that many other options if W/L and he himself personally is to survive, so I'm willing to bet that most people who were supportive of wikileaks will be understanding
posted by talos at 7:42 AM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


And Assange is screwed. He is losing a very long and costly legal game for his freedom against the full force of the US state department and the only thing keeping him from an indefinite detention is his legal defence to avoid extradation proceedings in the UK.

I may be wrong on this, but as far as I know, the US hasn't issued any warrants for him. (Internationally, anyway?) He is being sought on charges of sexual assault, that HE is trying to handwave as being part of a US conspiracy to "git" him.

Wikileaks failed when their goal changed from mere openness to hostility to the US and other western interests. When exposing hypocrisy and mistakes took a back seat to Assange's cult of personality and his desire to release info in "media sized nuggets".
posted by gjc at 2:57 PM on January 26, 2012


Seconding what vicx said, except that I think JA is important, if only a little. There's definitely a legitimate argument to be had about whether they should have redacted certain names. That JA doesn't believe in redaction of any kind makes Wikileaks who they are, and much more dangerous to power. Whether such redactions should occur appears to be the critical reason for staffers falling out with JA. With JA out of the way, the US hopes that the replacement won't be quite so bold.

"negative bias in the mainstream media against Julian Assange is nuts"

I'll admit to trolling a little bit with my lucky comment, but I thought the bias against JA was pretty obvious with the massive number of negative articles because the media immediately assumed JA had hooked up with RT. If there's one thing the past ten years should have taught Americans, it's that their media is hardly a bastion of objectivity, especially when it comes to the interests of their Government. If CNN had been first to buy the series, would there have been the same outcry?

"Wikileaks failed when their goal changed from mere openness to hostility to the US.."

I don't accept this and I'd be happy to see some evidence for the claim. I smell American exceptional-ism. Obviously I haven't seen everything, but I haven't seen much evidence that Wikileaks or JA particularly target the US. Defending oneself from aggressive attacks hardly constitutes hostility. I've seen far more "cult of personality" comments from the mainstream media than from Assange himself.

gjc, the US are unlikely to issue a warrant, or at least publicise one, until Assange is in Sweden. However, they may not do so - either because it doesn't have broad support, or because he's locked away in Sweden for a few years.
posted by bigZLiLk at 9:12 PM on January 26, 2012






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