The day after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was granted bail and walked free – well, subject to various conditions – from court, two articles sum up the attitude of the establishment and that of the individual.
In the WaPo, Daniel Ellsberg, instrumental in releasing the so-called Pentagon Papers back in 1971, spoke in full support not only of Assange, but also Private Bradley Manning, who is alleged to have obtained the information that was then passed to WikiLeaks.
Ellsberg has been unequivocal in that support: putting the information in the public domain was “exactly the right thing” to do, “they provided a very valuable service”, and pursuing Assange while not moving against the media outlets that published confidential information was wrong “Anyone who believes Julian Assange can be distinguished from the New York Times ... is on a fool’s errand”.
Ellsberg, against whom charges were ultimately thrown out, had leaked a report which laid bare the way in which successive US Administrations had misled their Citizens over the adventure in Vietnam. Given that the conflict was still in progress when the leak occurred, it might be concluded that what he did was rather more deserving of prosecution. Perhaps there is a lesson there for the more hawkish commentators in the US, should they wish to learn it.
In the UK, however, there is no wish to learn within the domain of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre. Today’s Daily Mail shows that the Dacre view is that Assange is guilty of, well, something: the piece lifts content directly from US gossip site Gawker (one hopes that the Mail paid them for it voluntarily) which had published details of emails sent by Assange to a young woman he met some years ago.
The emails are denounced by “Daily Mail Reporter” – for which, read “whoever is at the front of the cab rank when Dacre demands a hatchet job to order” – as “stalkery”. So did Assange stalk the woman concerned? Well, no he didn’t. The Mail goes on to describe a “stalkery courtship”. So was there a courtship? No, there was not.
So what is the point of publishing the emails? Simples. The impression has to be given that Assange could be guilty of the offences alleged against him by prosecutors in Sweden, despite nothing the Mail has published being relevant to the case. No smoke without fire, two plus two equals, well, you know what, and as a clincher, he’s supported by lots of rotten lefties. Daily Mail readers are now expected to draw the correct conclusion.
And then Dacre will wonder why the Ellsberg view gains traction – which it will.