Home / General / How Wikileaks Works, and How Journalism Fails

How Wikileaks Works, and How Journalism Fails



Zeynep Tufekci explains the basic pattern of WikiLeaks hype on behalf of the far right:

Which brings us to WikiLeaks’ misinformation campaign. An accurate tweet accompanying the cache would have said something like, “If the C.I.A. goes after your specific phone and hacks it, the agency can look at its content.” But that, of course, wouldn’t have caused alarm and defeatism about the prospects of secure conversations.

We’ve seen WikiLeaks do this before. Last July, right after the attempted coup in Turkey, WikiLeaks promised, with much fanfare, to release emails belonging to Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party. What WikiLeaks ultimately released, however, was nothing but mundane mailing lists of tens of thousands of ordinary people who discussed politics online. Back then, too, the ruse worked: Many Western journalists had hyped these non-leaks.

WikiLeaks seems to have a playbook for its disinformation campaigns. The first step is to dump many documents at once — rather than allowing journalists to scrutinize them and absorb their significance before publication. The second step is to sensationalize the material with misleading news releases and tweets. The third step is to sit back and watch as the news media unwittingly promotes the WikiLeaks agenda under the auspices of independent reporting.

This is exactly why Keith Gessen’s argument that the DNC and Podesta hacks couldn’t have been important because they didn’t actually reveal anything of significance is so staggeringly wrong-headed. The purpose of the leaks and how Wikileaks framed them was precisely to sucker journalists into covering anodyne behavior as if it was scandalous. There are numerous factors, but one — which we also saw with respect to the Clinton Foundation — is that once editors and journalists have invested enough time in a story they’re very reluctant to conclude that Al Capone’s vault is in fact empty. It’s very hard to imagine even Clinton haters as obsessive as Fang and Greenwald writing a story about Hillary Clinton engaging in completely unexceptionable media engagement strategies any minimally competent campaign engages in if the story had been obtained from conventional sources, let alone hyping their “findings” as if they had he 21st century Pentagon Papers on their hands. (AFICT, neither particularly cared about the other Hillary Clinton EMAILS! scandal the Beltway media was rubbing its thighs bloody over.) What made Assange’s ratfucking work is that the reveal of SECRET EMAILS created an air of conspiracy around even the most inane trivia, and also played into a narrative that the DNC RIGGED the primary by [causal explanation absent.]

But this doesn’t let journalists off the hook. Particularly since leaving aside possible Russian connections Assange was making no secret of an agenda (i.e. getting Donald Trump elected) that would have been blindingly obvious by inference anyway journalists should have treated these one sided-leaks with considerable skepticism. When it mattered, all too many did the opposite, and it’s one reason we are where we are. And apparently too many reporters haven’t learned their lesson yet.

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  • Mike in DC


    Not definitive, but interesting. Peter Chayanov is apparently a known hacker.

  • Derelict

    “Jim, WikiLeaks dumped an assload of documents again. Sez here these documents show how NSA mind rays reach into every household to force every American to watch Dancing With The Stars.”

    “”Ya know, Bob, every time WikiLeaks does something like this, we waste a week or three digging through it and discover it’s nothing but mash notes and old shopping lists. How about we not cover it this time? Saves us effort and doesn’t confuse or mis-inform our readers and viewers!”

    Jim, we HAVE to cover it! If we don’t, everyone else will. And then where will we be?”

    • sigaba

      We’re paid for clicks, Bob. Casual readers find us through search aggregation, a process that demonstratively prefers alarmist, emotional interpretations of events and punishes sources that aren’t in the stampede.

      • sigaba

        I suppose the obvious parallels with the modern media landscape and the de-regulated, “democratized” stock market should be noted. In this context Wikileaks is essentially a pump-and-dump operation.

    • efgoldman

      here these documents show how NSA mind rays reach into every household to force every American to watch Dancing With The Stars.”

      Goddamned good thing I wear my tinfoil helmet all the time.

  • Jordan

    Another factor for journalists is that wikileaks *did* provide actually really relevant and newsworthy leaks in the past. And once journalists get a source of juicy details – even if it isn’t theirs! – that probably colors their views of subsequent leaks (although, of course, by this point they are either idiots or stooges if they keep thinking that).

    (this isn’t to let the wikileaks people off the hook. I’ve gone from “I’ll try and donate even though no credit card system will let me!” to “fuck you forever and ever you fascist enabling asshole”).

    • JMP

      The media did eventually start learning to ignore James O’Keefe’s latest deceptively edited videos, though it took several destroyed careers and the destruction of a great organization targetted because it was successful at helped poor black people to vote before that happened. Maybe after enough phony cries of “scandal” from wikileaks over more stolen documents that turn out to contain nothing controversial, out media may similarly learn not to trust any of their false characterizations, but who knows how long it will take.

      • Jordan

        Thats true. One difference is, maybe, that wikileaks (as far as we know) doesn’t deliberately distort or lie about anything they receive. They are just very selective (and terrible) about what they leak. O’Keefe obviously lied and lied and lied and deceptively edited everything.

        Or something, I dunno.

        • efgoldman

          Or something, I dunno.

          But I like risotto!

          • rea

            Didn’t you know that risotto recipe was just code for pedophilia?

        • Hogan

          One difference is, maybe, that wikileaks (as far as we know) doesn’t deliberately distort or lie about anything they receive. They are just very selective (and terrible) about what they leak.

          Operationally not much of a difference.

          • mark

            It’s a huge difference. For journalists.

            With O’Keefe you need to admit you were wrong. That you are not some canny insider but a rube. Admit that you are basically a hack laundering press releases and politically motivated stunts.

            You never need to grapple with that cognitive dissonance with Wikileaks. “I gave the reader all the information they needed to make a decision” is all you need to say. People who decide Podesta is a monster because they didn’t really understand the article actually reinforce your status as a sophisticate.

            There are some journalists I suspect who are more interested in actually informing readers but they seem to be lower down on the totem pole these days.

        • JMP

          They don’t seem to distort the actual stolen documents, but they do lie when they try to characterize what was in those documents, along with used selective out-of-context quotes, as they did with their claim that the DNC emails showed rigging the primary for Clinton when they actually showed no such thing.

  • John F

    Assuming Assange isn’t simply Putin’s puppet, what is in fact his agenda?

    [I think is blatantly obvious that it’s NOT what Wikileaks/Assange it is, but I’m not sure what it really is]

    • cleek

      he’s a pampered privileged armchair anarchist rapist who wants as much attention as he can get.

      • leftwingfox


      • Gone2Ground

        Agreed. He’s more than a little obsessed with his own persona and importance.

        The LRB did a profile of him a while back and it was, well, not flattering. He came off to me as a paranoid weirdo who wasn’t a particularly deep thinker.

        Perhaps that’s his connection to T?

    • NewishLawyer

      Chaos combined with a knee jerk anti-Americanism that seems to have been part of world thought since 1776 or 1787 for a substantial minority of the world’s population.

      • Gwen

        Yeah. He’s a self-important red-pill swallower who is probably not even consciously a Russian tool (although at the same time he’d probably gladly bro-fist Putin).

        God help us all if he ever gets into something like Crossfit or extreme dieting, we’ll never hear the end of it.

        • efgoldman

          who is probably not even consciously a Russian tool

          Is he really that stupid?

          • rea

            He cashes the check in his sleep.

            • Gwen

              See I think he’s the sort that thinks “I don’t work for the Russians! The Russians work for me!”

  • Stan McGee

    Amazing to see people obstensibly on the Left siding with the CIA over someone who seeks to expose abuses of power and government secrets, but partisanship is a hell of a drug!

    • Scott Mc

      Right. All those abuses Wikileaks has exposed recently. I just can’t recall them.

      • rea

        If Mr. McGee really had the courage of his convictions, he’d post his credit card numbers online here.

      • I just can’t recall them.

        THAT’S THE ABUSE. You’re the victim of CIA brainscrubbing!

      • JustRuss

        Wait, he’s talking about Wikileaks? I assumed it had to be somebody else.

    • rea

      “Governments are collecting secret files of private information about ordinary citizens, but we’ll put a stop to that! We’ll release all those files to everyone!”–Wikileaks

      Thank god for Wikileaks and the Russian government, though–without them, we’d never have known Podesta’s risotto recipe.

    • medrawt

      It’s amazing that people think this is some kind of stunning argument.

      The CIA has done a lot of awful shit in its time. I imagine it will continue to do so as long as it’s empowered by people for whom that awfulness is useful. The CIA was also never exactly the bogeyman people think it was – not that it was warmer and fuzzier, it just was never quite as competent and all-controlling as it was happy to let people believe.

      But despite all that awful shit, I don’t object to the CIA’s existence. (Throughout this post so far, you could replace “CIA” with “the US military” and “the US government” pretty successfully.) In fact, I’m happy we have something that does the job of the CIA. I don’t assume the CIA is always operating in bad faith. And I’ll certainly support them when I perceive that they may be trying to do something for the American good.

      Wikileaks seeks to expose information. Trying to impose a unitary ideology on why it does so, over the course of its short history, seems likely mistaken to me. (Among other things, I have read that people who used to be influential in the organization have left it, and with them it has become more and more reflective of Assange’s personal perspective.) I am in favor of exposing abuses of power. As to government secrets? Kind of a mixed bag, in my opinion. Wikileaks has been associated with a goal of “radical transparency,” which has never been something I would consider a desirable goal.

      • Murc

        But despite all that awful shit, I don’t object to the CIA’s existence.

        I do. I absolutely do. The CIA’s history of a half century of 1) evil, 2) fuckups, and 3) evil fuckups.

        The organization should be burnt to the ground and we should start over fresh with a new intelligence service with new people, a new culture, and a new mandate.

        • rea

          Even allowing for the bad things that the CIA has done, we’ve gotten far more people (both American and foreign) killed over the last century or so through not understanding what the hell was going on, than from covert action. A competent intelligence agency is pretty essential.

          • Murc

            A competent intelligence agency is pretty essential.

            I agree. Which is why the CIA should be destroyed and we should get to work building that competent intelligence agency ASAP.

            The CIA isn’t just bad at covert action, which an intelligence agency shouldn’t be allowed to do to begin with. It is bad at intelligence gathering and analysis. It is good for literally nothing.

            • J. Otto Pohl

              I think there is a lot more anger at the CIA’s successful operations like Iran 1953, Guatemala 1954, Indonesia 1965, and Chile 1973 than its failures like attempts to kill Castro. I know from personal experience that the organization is unpopular in Ghana almost completely as a result of the success of the operation described in the link below.


            • Jordan

              Hmm, I like this thought and which other agencies should be included? So we got:


              and then …

              Air Force (lol)
              Probably the service intelligence agencies are ok mostly?

              I mean, mostly all of them, but whatever.

              • CP

                Probably the service intelligence agencies are ok mostly?

                I suspect the service intelligence agencies are rather more myopic than the larger ones – not bad, just, focused mainly on things that affect their specific service. ONI can probably tell you a lot about Russian fleet movements, but not much about their financing of far right movements in the West, for example.

            • Brien Jackson

              LOL. Yeah, we’ll obliterate the CIA as an existing organization, then immediately about building a new organization to do exactly what the CIA does. I’m sure it won’t be anything like the CIA at all!

        • SatanicPanic

          Maybe so, but I’d rather not have this conversation right not, with the current ignoramus in the WH. Can we a agree to table it until the WH is occupied by someone who won’t make it worse?

        • efgoldman

          The organization should be burnt to the ground and we should start over fresh with a new intelligence service with new people, a new culture, and a new mandate.

          We’ll get to that right after we abolish the senate and the elctoral college. After all, all we need is a bunch of statutes, not a constitutional amendment.

          Oh, remind me: Who fucked up the Iraq intelligence in 2002/3? Who ignored the Bin Laden intelligence in 2001?

          • Scotian

            Duuurrr, the Clintons of course, who else?

            *rolls eyes*

            When it is this obvious to foreigners such as myself the GOP and their lackeys need a better tool (speaking from the purely competency caring side of me, not the political side of me which finds such an idea appalling), especially now they can’t whip the Clintons anymore. No, wait, there is always Chelsea I suppose.

            Seriously, the GOP has a lot to answer for not just to Americans but the rest of the species as well as your allies. The Contract For (ON!) America was where things really started going horribly wrong, although the work that led up to that moment was a couple of decades in the making. I’m not sure Americans yet realize just how much they are diminished internationally by the rise of Trump, and the GOP willingness to excuse what appears on its surface to be rampant corruption of the election for Trump by Russia via various means and in apparent regular contact with Team Trump.

            As for Assange and WikiLeaks, a whole new circle of Hell could be invented for him and them in my view. It is clear and was last year he had his own agenda against the Dems and Clinton, yet we never heard that reminder every time some new WikiLeaks POS was dropped, nor that these were hacked AND unverified. He is clearly willing to work with anyone against her and that should have been as much a part of the story as any claimed leak evidence he was offering.

            In case it is not clear enough, I have some rather ill feelings and will towards both Mr Assange and his organization, especially after last year.

      • CP

        But despite all that awful shit, I don’t object to the CIA’s existence.


        I went to a few of the Wikileaks/anti-NSA/privacy activist type events on campus during grad school, and tuned them out pretty quickly after it became clear that as far as they were concerned, nothing short of a return to full-blown “gentlemen don’t read other gentlemen’s mail” lunacy would be acceptable.

        This is the sort of crap you normally see (all the time, in fact) from the right wing with regards to various government departments (“you see! It’s not perfect! ABOLISH IT!”) but rarely on the left; even the most hardcore anti-military and anti-police types that I know won’t argue that those things should be abolished altogether, just reformed and/or restrained in depth. At most, everyone fired and new people hired. The intelligence community is the one exception, for which a small but loud section of the left goes full-on loony-libertarian (and doesn’t appear to care that its only partners in this are the far right).

        • rea

          full-blown “gentlemen don’t read other gentlemen’s mail” lunacy

          Yeah, the CIA shouldn’t be reading other peoples’ mail.

          That’s Wikileaks’ job.

          • lahtiji

            Yes! Leave it to the private sector!

        • PJ

          I dunno — a lot of Black leftists and radicals would like to see the police abolished, full-stop. It’s not an unreasonable conclusion.

          • Spider-Dan

            This is libertarian-level delusion.

            If the police are abolished, black people will not be the ones to benefit. Every racist cop (#notallcops, etc.) will still be just as racist, but will no longer have the ostensible restraint of the rule of law.

        • nemdam


          I now roll my eyes at any blanket anti-CIA/anti-NSA/the government is spying on everyone talk. Every government needs an intelligence agency, by nature of its work it has to operate in the dark, and abolishing these intelligence agencies doesn’t mean their work goes away or that bad intelligence operations won’t happen. Uber privacy advocates basically have a paranoid view of the government and believe any capacity of the government to view personal information is evidence that they are snooping on everyone all the time. To unilaterally take away the government’s right to ever see someone’s personal information is to basically cripple law enforcement and national security to the point where they can barely do their jobs.

          • Murc

            Uber privacy advocates basically have a paranoid view of the government and believe any capacity of the government to view personal information is evidence that they are snooping on everyone all the time.

            … how about the actual evidence they’re snooping on everyone all the time?

            I mean, good god. This has been well-documented. Some of us believe that the government should need to demonstrate probable cause to surveil an individual in a non-secret court before snooping on them, and that doesn’t mean we want to “basically cripple law enforcement.”

            • nemdam

              If the court isn’t secret, then that defeats the advantage of secret surveillance on a suspect.

              • Murc

                The vast majority of our courts are not secret and do not issue secret warrants and law enforcement doesn’t seem immensely crippled by it.

                • nemdam

                  Not being able to surveil someone, like organized crime or terrorists, would hurt law enforcement. And granting the warrants in public would hurt them.

                • Murc

                  And granting the warrants in public would hurt them.

                  … the back of organized crime in this country was broken with perfectly ordinary non-secret warrants issued by non-secret courts, dude.

                • EliHawk

                  The courts weren’t secret, but the warrants sure we’re, dude. They didn’t go up to Casa Nostra and say “Hello, we’ll be wiretapping you today.”

    • lawtalkingguy

      Amazing to see people obstensibly on the Left siding with the CIA capitalist wrecker FDR over someone who seeks to expose abuses of power and government secrets of Capitalism the way Comrade Stalin has, but partisanship is a hell of a drug!

      • Stan McGee

        Red-baiting of a “liberal” blog–wow!

        BTW the Communist Party USA was organizing black workers in the South and defending. Scottsboro Boys while your hero FDR was working with segregationists and blocking lynch laws, and literally putting People of Color in concentration camps.

        • JMP

          Learn what red-baiting actually is.

        • J. Otto Pohl

          The Soviets beat FDR in forcibly resettling citizens descended of Asian immigrants by over four years.


          • The Temporary Name

            I’m interested in what you think of the Soviet empire as a continuation of Russian norms in abuse of power. The monarchy were also pretty fond of resettling people who didn’t want to be resettled.

            • J. Otto Pohl

              Lots of continuities for sure. But, also a lack of modern means both in state organization and transportation technology compared to the 1930s and 1940s. The differences between the WWI and WWII internal deportation of ethnic Germans eastward shows a lot of these organizational differences.

    • Amazing to see people ostensibly on the anti-authoritarian left side with a reactionary right-wing authoritarian regime against the whistle blowers in its midst leaking about its lies and abuses of power.

      Extraordinary to see these ostensible warriors against governmental abuses of power characterizing such leaks as a “deep state coup” in line with the regime’s own propaganda.

      But, as they say, partisanship is one hell of a drug. Or words to that effect anyway.

      • CP

        Stan’s not anti-authoritarian left. Or anti-authoritarian anything, in fact.

      • Scotian

        *applauds and bows*

        Well played Sir.

    • Scott Lemieux

      someone who seeks to expose abuses of power and government secrets,

      I thought we were talking about Julian Assange.

    • JMP

      Amazing to see people ostensibly on the left siding with a rapist who is trying undermine liberal democracy all over the world and supports far-right fascist movements, including being partly responsible for fucking Donald Trump being President.; of course it’s a nice giveaway, as if anyone who claims to be on the left supports this cretin then you know they in fact are not on the left at all..

      • Stan McGee

        Alleged rapist. But “liberals” no longer believe in the presumption of innocence.

        • JMP

          And now we’ve got the move over to the MRA rape apologist territory. I’m not on a jury, so I can ecide for myself whether or not I think the rapist Julian Assange, who fled to Ecuador’s embassy rather than face charges for the multiple rapes he committed, is guilty or not.

          But of course the rape apologist crowd has their special rules for rapists, in which they demand that no one should ever be allowed to believe a rapist has committed rape unless and until they’ve been convicted beyond a reasonable doubt. Funny that none of them ever demand the same of any another likely criminal; for instance, I’ve never seen anyone object to calling OJ Simpson a murder despite his being acquitted; but they insist we must always assume all rape victims are lying for some reason. Fuck that shit.

          Julian Assange is a rapist.

        • rea

          But “liberals” no longer believe in the presumption of innocence.

          The government must treat people as presumptively innocent, before employing the state’s monopoly on legitimate violence to punish them.

          Not being governments, we individuals are free to draw our own conclusions from the available evidence.

          Flight to avoid prosecution is usually regarded as strong evidence of guilt.

        • sigaba

          I thought Assange didn’t actually challenge the facts, he just disagreed that what he did was “rape.”

          • Scotian

            That was my impression too, mind you it was also my impression that Swedish Law also disagreed with Assange on this definition, and since this was in Sweden… Seems kind of obvious to me that ignorance of the law in the country you are in on something that basic/important is just asking for trouble.

            • sigaba

              The actual thing he did sounds like rape to me. That it was utterly despicable and gross in the extreme is beyond question.

              However, I suspect a US prosecutor wouldn’t charge him, because I’m certain most juries in the US would let him walk.

      • Stan McGee

        “Liberal democracy” these days is code for corporate global capitalist militarism.

        • Stan McGee

          BTW we wouldn’t have Donald Trump or Beexit or Marine LePen or any other of this shit had “liberal” parties in western democracies not spent the last 25 years forcing Clontonism and Blairism and ther “third way” horseshit down our throats.

          • JMP

            Did you know that it’s possible to write multiple paragraphs in a single comment, instead of making several replies to the same comment and even replying to yourself and coming off as a fool?

          • D.N. Nation

            Yep, screw em. Now tell me who and what to support and vote for. I want specific names, specific parties.

            This is the point where Phil Perspective skeedaddles, so maybe I’ll get something out of you.

            • kped

              Are you sure it’s not Phil?

              • Lord Jesus Perm

                There’s no mention of Arne Duncan or RAHMBO, so it can’t be him.

            • D.N. Nation

              Aaaaaaaand nothing.

          • efgoldman

            Urd, izzat you?

          • ColBatGuano

            Yes, we would have been much better off if HW Bush had won in 1992.

    • Aaron Morrow

      someone who seeks to expose abuses of power and government secrets

      I thought we were talking about Assange, who currently seeks to cover-up abuses of power and government secrets.

      *shrug* Cash is king, and rubles have growing in value over the past year.

      • alexceres

        Funny part is rubles aren’t growing in value, and Russia is still barely a 2nd world nation with an economy of dubious prospects. Putin isn’t some great world leader. But he sure seems to have bought some outsized influence …

        • TopsyJane

          Funny part is rubles aren’t growing in value, and Russia is still barely a 2nd world nation with an economy of dubious prospects. Putin isn’t some great world leader. But he sure seems to have bought some outsized influence …

          Putin has played a bad hand very well. It also helps to be sitting on a gigantic nuclear arsenal, of course, but even allowing for that – he’s good at this.

    • No Longer Middle Aged Man

      Slow day Stan and you need to kill the boredom or you’re getting paid for it? Otherwise you could just get married and give it 20 years and then you can disagree with your spouse about everything he/she says without the trouble of going online.

      • rea

        There are strange things done in the midnight sun
        By the men who blog comment for gold;
        The St. Petersburg trails have their secret tales
        That would make your blood run cold;
        The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
        But the queerest they ever did see
        Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
        We cremated Stan McGee.

        • Hogan

          “Since I left my mom in Rostov-on-Don
          It’s the first time I’ve been warm.”

    • D.N. Nation

      Somehow, some way, the trolls are managing to get dumber. This new one makes NoMoreAltCenter sound like Mark Twain.

    • Slothrop2

      Exactly. Thank you.

      • ColBatGuano

        The moronic agreeing with the idiotic. Perfect.

        • JMP

          It also might me a sockpuppet congratulating their own self, or just a meeting of the empty minds.

    • alexceres

      CIA or the propaganda arm of the FSB? Tough choice there.

  • rea

    Last July, right after the attempted coup in Turkey, WikiLeaks promised, with much fanfare, to release emails belonging to Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party. What WikiLeaks ultimately released, however, was nothing but mundane mailing lists of tens of thousands of ordinary people who discussed politics online.

    Wikileaks released sensitive private information, including phone numbers, addresses, i.d. numbers, etc. for almost every woman in Turkey.

    The Snowden/Greenwald/Wikileaks alliance always struck me as preposterous, because Snowden and Greenwald say they want to protect privacy, and Wikileaks doesn’t seem to think anything should be private.

    • Steve LaBonne

      Or rather than being preposterous, it shows that the actual agendas of Snowden and Greenwald are not necessarily the ones they proclaim.

      • CP

        What he said.

      • RonC

        I thought it was Wikileaks alone that did that, not Snowden or Greenwald?

    • Morbo

      Wikileaks doesn’t seem to think anything should be private.

      Well, Julian Assange’s life should be private.

      • Hogan

        Especially his privates.

    • No Longer Middle Aged Man

      Assange strikes me USA-hater (hegemony etc.) with a strong need for attention and who is happy to work with the Russians for mutual benefit. Less a stooge than a partner or accomplice.

      I see Greenwald as a self-righteous prig who also wants attention and finds that the best way to do that is to attack Democrats since it allows him to stand out to certain audiences whereas he’d get zero attention from them if he attacked Trump. Also that he needs to generate revenue and this is the best model for that (old Hoffer quote I cited yesterday: starts as a cause, turns into a business, eventually becomes a racket).


      • sigaba

        Snowden is the Klaus Fuchs — he thinks the side he worked for was too powerful and acted with impunity, and “evening the odds” was the only way to ensure peace.

        • wengler

          This is possibly the most terrible read on Snowden.

          • sigaba

            I’m sure it’s what he thinks, I think him and Fuchs both deserve jail.

            • RonC


    • nemdam

      Their belief is privacy only for those I say deserve it. He kind of admitted in this in a discussion about what standard he used to publish the Podesta emails, and if memory recalls correctly, he said if someone is sufficiently powerful than it’s OK to violate their privacy. Of course determining who is sufficiently powerful is completely subjective, but I’m sure Glenn has it all figured out.

  • Murc

    This especially enraging to me because we are, in fact, in desperate screaming need of the sort of organization that wikileaks presents itself as being, yet is not.

    Like, it would be real fuckin’ nice if wikileaks were going after the records and conversation of the junta who stages a coup here last fall, but I guess the effort they expended on Clinton left’em plumb tuckered out.

    • fatvalkilmer

      They’re too busy responding to the daily news cycle in the US, and trying to make sure that whoever will kick Assange out of the embassy doesn’t get elected president of Ecuador.

      That stuff's a full time job! No time for your high-minded "nice-to-haves"

    • Hob

      I think you’ve made this kind of comment before, and I still don’t really understand what kind of unmet need you’re talking about. I mean, Wikileaks never presented itself as “going after” anything, nor was there any reason to think they’d know how to do so. They presented themselves as an anonymous document drop for other people who might take it upon themselves to acquire such things. And that’s not a very technically difficult thing to provide; as I understand it, many newspapers are now running their own equivalent services.

      It sounds to me like what you really mean is: we’re in desperate screaming need of someone who’s willing to leak or hack significant dirt from the Trump administration. That seems like a different issue from being in need of some general “sort of organization.”

  • Gwen

    OT, but I was wondering if any of the profs on LGM wished to comment on the video going viral today of Robert Kelly’s interview getting crashed by his kids?


    I know it’s easy to write-off on one level as “just a cute (possibly slightly embarrassing) video” but on the other hand, in context, it actually sort of worked.

    He was talking about the danger of conflict between North and South Korea, and it kinda hit me, “discussing these issues is so important — because the lives of cute little babies are literally on the line if North Korea goes nuclear.”

    Even though Kelly didn’t appear to intend to have his BBC interview crashed, it begs the question: When is it appropriate and professional for scholars to bring up their own family or children? Are media interviews too anodyne? Do intellectuals lean too heavily on logos and not enough on pathos and ethos when presenting their case to the public?

  • JMP

    There all still complaints from the people who won’t stop relitigating the primary about the DNC supposedly rigged the primaries for Clinton, even though we know know no only that was bullshit, but that it was a bit of propaganda from Putin and wikileaks that completely mischaracterized the stolen email they wrongfully made public in order specifically to turn the hardcoe Sanders supporters against voting for her. They fell for this disinformation, and continually keep repeating the lie instead of admitting they were duped.

    • Mr. Rogers

      This is one of the things that so frustrates/worries me about the post ’16 election landscape. A grifter’s marks are very often incapable of accepting that they got played. Add into that the psychic damage of admitting that your getting played facilitated Trump’s election and we may never get these people to see what happened and take steps to stop it.

      If the wedge that these leaks managed to put in the upcoming generation of the political left are long lasting we will have real problems.

  • tsam

    Julian look LIT AF in that pic

    • muddy

      Julian look inviting of a good smack in that pic. My hand is just itching.

      • Cheap Wino

        Take 90% smug and add 10% pretentious, that’s what we’re seeing. Extremely punchable.

        • muddy

          I’ve got wicked arthritis in my hands, I’d have to go with the open handed smack. And he’s so pale you could probably see the handprint for ages! I have apparently given this too much thought.

  • Bootsie

    Turns out, anarchists are not really Great Defenders of Democracy and Human Rights.

    • StellaB

      It must just coincidental that the anarchist is only aiding the right-wing authoritarians.

      I thought that Wikileaks had promised to reveal some dirt on Macron a few weeks ago? He seems to want to give the FN an assist too.

      • CP

        I thought that Wikileaks had promised to reveal some dirt on Macron a few weeks ago? He seems to want to give the FN an assist too.

        Supports white nationalists in Australia, supports white nationalists in America, supports white nationalists in France.

        Isn’t it time we applied the same principle to him that we do to all the “I am not a racist, but” conservatives? If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it might just be a duck!

    • Read The Enormous Despair, by Judith Malina, for an account of how she, her husband Julian Beck, and the rest of The Living Theatre—anarchists all—did what they could defending democracy and human rights (including open borders).

    • Jean-Michel

      Assange actually rejected the “anarchist” label in his interview with David Frost and seemingly implied that a state is necessary for “successful civil institutions.” He’s also spoken about how complete transparency is needed for markets to operate with optimal efficiency, which is reconcilable with certain schools of anarchism (anarcho-capitalism, market anarchism) but is decidedly a minority current (and a rather despised one) among anarchists generally, who mostly reject the market economy.

      • Donna Gratehouse

        He’s also spoken about how complete transparency is needed for markets to operate with optimal efficiency

        Sounds like a rationalization of stealing and dumping (certain people’s but not others’) data.

  • NewishLawyer

    Semi-related, the State Department is an absolute mess and Drum is perplexed by the situation:


    • rea

      It is moderately bizarre that the State Department did not know that the Foreign Minister of Mexico was in DC, meeting with government officials.

  • Mike in DC

    Wikileaks sold out sometime in the last 4 years or so. They were still good when they dumped the docs that helped lead to the Arab spring. But that was a while ago.

  • The Lorax

    I sometimes think to myself that people will turn on Trump and the GOP once they realize they’ve been had. And then I remember they never will, because our fucking media (who, ironically, all fancy themselves Woodward and Bernstein) is so focused on minutiae and is not smart enough to do policy or provide context. So there will be another EMAILS story and Both Sides Do It and people will never realized how badly they’ve been fucked.

    Really, my anger at this point is mainly at the media. Republicans gonna fuck the poor to give to the rich. That’s what they do. But the smug, self-congratulatory media (I’m looking at you, NPR News and CNN) could at least let the casual observer know that’s what they’re doing.

    I get a bit of solace reading Scott on the media, because he may possibly be more angry than I am. Not sure why I find solace in that, but there we are.

  • Donna Gratehouse

    My 27 year old stepson is a comic book and sci-fi loving bro who voted for Bernie in primary and reluctantly for Hillary in the general and what Assange farts up is like catnip to him.

    Yesterday he asked me what brand of TV we had. I took a deep breath because I knew it was coming: “I’ve been reading this Vault 7 from Wikileaks about..”

    I had to stop him right there, though I know as a 48 year old woman who supported Hillary I have about as little credibility with him on politics as it gets. But I tried anyway. I pointed out how in the past few years Wikileaks pops up every time Putin wants to discredit someone and how Assange dishonestly frames information, citing examples such as Scott’s about how they made perfectly normal campaign outreach to supporters appear like sinister collusion.

    His response was that Wikileaks has been vindicated in court as to the veracity of its information every time it has gone there (I don’t even know or care if this is true because my point was not about accuracy but context). I pointed out Assange was basically seeking vengeance against Hillary Clinton and his history of misogyny and I know he knows what women have accused him of but I could see it was for naught and we were both getting increasingly agitated.

    I haven’t spoken to him much since then because I don’t even know how to process this. He’s a nice, smart young man and not an overt misogynist but he doesn’t care that Assange is one. He sees Assange as this high tech James Bond and considers the heady possibility that American spies might be looking at him through the TV to be far more important than the marginalized, vulnerable people Trump (whom Assange helped elect) is already harming.

    I know he’s being manipulated by skillful con artists but I still feel betrayed.

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