To follow-up on Paul’s note yesterday that WikiLeaks withheld Russian intel, this New Yorker profile of Assange is worth reading, and is all the more devastating for being written by someone who admire(d?) him. I found this amusing:
At the start of this year, as the allegations grew that Assange had facilitated an act of Russian information warfare, his closest friends strove to offer a protective circle of support. “This wholesale campaign to portray Julian as a supporter of Trump has done a great deal of damage,” Yanis Varoufakis, the former Greek finance minister, told me.
This “portrayal” is so damaging…because it’s indisputably accurate. Even in real time it was obvious — the piecemeal release of information at strategic points during the campaign, and the way it was framed when released, made it blindingly obvious. The best you can do is to say he was more anti-Clinton than pro-Trump, but…in a zero-sum contest it’s a distinction wholly without a difference. This describes many Trump voters, and their votes have exactly the same effect as votes from his fans.
None of this lets the media off the hook — given both the privacy interests at stake and the obvious agenda WikiLeaks had, the leaks should have been treated with skepticism, but were often treated with pretty much the opposite of that. Because of whatever combination of the Clinton Rules, the assumption that Clinton would win, and a desire by some sources to keep re-litigating the primaries, the WikiLeaks spin on innocuous material was often advanced uncritically. This doesn’t make its agenda any less obvious.
And he doesn’t really deny it, and is also really clear that he doesn’t think women and their perfidy belong in positions of power:
The day that the arrest warrant was announced, Assange sent me a message with a smiley-face emoticon. “I’m in my element,” he told me. “Battles with governments come easy. Battles with treacherous women are another matter.” It was our first conversation about the investigation in Sweden, and I asked him what the case was about. “It perplexed me to begin with,” he said. “I understand where they’re at now, though.” He spoke of Sweden’s “very, very poor judicial system,” weakened by external political meddling, careerism, and a culture of “crazed radical feminist ideology.
In his view, Clinton was corrupt, pathetically driven by personal ambition, a neoliberal interventionist destined to take the United States into war—the epitome of a political establishment that deserved to be permanently ousted. In February, 2016, he wrote a rare editorial on the WikiLeaks Web site declaring Clinton unfit for office. The piece cited video footage, from 2011, which showed Clinton learning that Muammar Qaddafi had been killed. “We came! We saw! He died!” she declared, laughing—a reaction that prompted Assange to write, “Hillary’s problem is not just that she’s a war hawk. She’s a war hawk with bad judgment who gets an unseemly emotional rush out of killing people. She shouldn’t be let near a gun shop, let alone an army. And she certainly should not become president of the United States.” Only Assange knows whether sexism informed his dislike of her. But he often speaks with disdain about feminism generally, and in unguarded moments he is liable to comment on essential distinctions between the sexes. In 2010, when Julia Gillard became Australia’s Prime Minister, he told me scornfully that the incumbent, Kevin Rudd, “just got rolled . . . by a woman.”
In a later conversation, I urged him to articulate a coherent view of Trump, but the prospect seemed to pain him. “It’s hard to sum up in the current climate of polarization,” he told me. It seemed his main concern was that by criticizing Trump he would somehow appear to validate the previous norms of American politics. “Governments are evil,” he told me. “The last government was evil. This government is evil. Does the Trump Administration appear to have a potential to be uniquely bad? Maybe. But in many other respects it’s the same problem that existed under Obama. The difference is that now everyone is talking about it. What is associated with this Administration is a certain aggressive rhetoric, which can make the problem worse if people accept it; on the other hand, it also makes everyone pay attention to problems that have been there for a long time.” He told me that, whatever Trump’s flaws, his Administration had the capacity to challenge entrenched power in Washington, and to disrupt the structure of American power overseas. “I will give you a list of counterintuitive structural positives,” he told me. Several days later, he presented a set of ideas that could be distilled into one: “A complaint from civil libertarians and constitutional scholars is that the power of the Presidency is too strong. O.K., it has been reduced now.”
The contradictions are heightening nicely!
Anyway, there’s no mystery here. Assange supported Trump because he’s a libertarian who wanted Trump to win. The end.