By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media
Luke Harding of the London Guardian says Julian Assange is a “useful idiot,” based on the premier episode of his Russian Today (RT) program “The World Tomorrow.” The show featured a mostly softball interview with Hezbollah terrorist leader Hassan Nasrallah, who not surprisingly adopted the Russian position of support for the Assad regime in Syria.
In fact, the useful idiots are those who believed that Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, was not an anti-American activist willing to act on behalf of the Russian regime.
Media naiveté about Assange is legendary on many fronts. Back in May of 2011, the PBS program Frontline broadcast an interview with Assange in which he denied any direct contact with Bradley Manning, the Army analyst on trial for leaking to WikiLeaks. The preliminary hearing in the Manning case offered evidence that demonstrated a connection. It was evidence of a conspiracy to commit espionage.
Manning’s next scheduled day in court is April 24 and his supporters are planning to protest his treatment by holding an “Occupy DOJ rally” in Washington D.C., in front of the Department of Justice building, even though Attorney General Eric Holder doesn’t have a direct role in the prosecution of Manning on treason charges. The next day, April 25, Bradley Manning supporters are staging a vigil at the main gate at Fort Mead, where the Manning trial is being held.
One can find numerous references in the press to Holder’s alleged “relentless” effort to indict Assange for espionage, and there are even references to an alleged secret indictment (based on documents stolen and released by WikiLeaks). But where is the evidence?
The good news is that some in the media are waking up to the anti-American agenda of Assange, with Alessandra Stanley of The New York Times noting that his vehicle, RT, first known as Russia Today, “is an English-language news network created by the Russian leader Vladimir V. Putin in 2005 to promote the Kremlin line abroad. It’s like the Voice of America, only with more money and a zesty anti-American slant.”
Alluding to how the media, including the Times, have soured on Assange, the paper added, “His reputation has taken a deep plunge since he shook the world in 2010 by releasing, in cooperation with The New York Times and several other news organizations, masses of secret government documents, including battlefield reports from Iraq and Afghanistan. Most news organizations edited and redacted the papers to protect lives. Mr. Assange put everything on his Web site. To some he was a hero, to others a spy, but nowadays he is most often portrayed as a nut job.”
Not surprisingly, officials of the Bradley Manning Support Network also make regular appearances on RT.
In explaining why he chose RT, Assange said, “We’ve seen RT’s reportage on the attacks on WikiLeaks for a number of years, and that reportage has generally been quite supportive. When we were looking what international broadcaster we wished to partner with as opposed to national broadcasters, we looked to see what was the penetration into the United States. And RT had higher penetration in the United States than Al Jazeera.”
He went on to say, in regard to the international television networks, “there’s really only two that are worth speaking about, and that’s RT and Al Jazeera. The other international networks, as far as WikiLeaks issues are concerned, are too busy considering their own national agenda. Now, if WikiLeaks had been producing voluminous material about Russia, perhaps that situation would be different. But in the case that we are in at the moment, our major confrontation is with the West, although we have published material for many countries.”
Here it is for all to see. He says “if” WikiLeaks had been producing “voluminous material about Russia.” The lack of such material, which had been promised by Assange, speaks volumes about who he is working for and why.
But Assange isn’t the only media personality or entity conspiring with RT. Another is The Huffington Post, listed on RT’s “Partners” page.
In the U.S., RT is carried by such giant media companies as Comcast and DISH Networks. But in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, the channel is not carried with disclaimers identifying the material as foreign propaganda. Holder’s Justice Department is refusing to enforce the law.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.