What Empire Loyalists Are Really Saying When They Bash Julian Assange

by Caitlin Johnstone

Wired has just published what might be the single most brazenly dishonest and manipulative piece of down-punching empire smut that I have ever read. An article by Virginia Heffernan titled “The Real Houseguest of the Ecuadorian Embassy” revolves around the outright lie that Julian Assange is suing the Ecuadorian government because he doesn’t feel like cleaning up after his cat and maintaining basic hygiene in the embassy he’s been confined to since 2012. In reality, the legal case arose from the fact that despite being granted political asylum for his journalism, Assange has for months been cut off from the world and forbidden to practice journalism by the new government of Ecuador, and would remain unable to practice journalism under the new conditions Quito recently imposed upon him.

The article reads as though its author is attempting to force snarky humor through a thick fog of hatred and personal misery while seeing how many lies she can pack into each paragraph. Heffernan claims falsely that Assange is “wanted on various criminal charges”; Assange has not been charged with anything. Heffernan claims falsely that Assange “has been closely linked to the Kremlin and Russian president Vladimir Putin”; this is just objectively false with no evidence backing it up whatsoever. Heffernan claims falsely that “the distinct possibility has surfaced that during his embassy tenure Assange communicated with Roger Stone, Donald Trump’s consigliere, via magic decoder rings or the internet”; there’s no evidence that Stone had any back channel with WikiLeaks, and the information he notoriously amplified was already public. Heffernan claims falsely that WikiLeaks is “Russia-aligned”; another assertion for which there is zero evidence and much evidence to the contrary.

You get the picture. I’m not going to spend an entire article beating up on some writer for Wired just for authoring an amazingly horrible article about Julian Assange, especially when there are so very, very many other ambitious presstitutes falling all over themselves in a mad scramble to do the exact same thing right now.

Just as new information begins surfacing that Assange’s safety and security may be in immediate jeopardy, the brave, dauntless journalists of the establishment press have been working around the clock to bring their audiences as many versions as possible of the crucial bombshell news story that the WikiLeaks founder is a stinky, stinky man. Like it would even matter if that were true. Like the barely disguised plot to extradite a journalist for the crime of publishing facts to the same nation which tortured Chelsea Manning would be any less Orwellian if that journalist didn’t change his sheets often enough.

But that,  of course, is not the point. The point is to create public revulsion for Julian Assange, thereby killing sympathy for his unconscionable persecution and dampening the impact of any future WikiLeaks releases. The point is to marry Assange’s name with the idea of bad smells, so that the public will begin to find themselves increasingly disgusted by him and everything he stands for without quite remembering exactly why they feel such disdain for him.

And there are more than enough aspiring pundits out there trying to do exactly that. Every story you see about Assange’s plight in mainstream media now goes out of its way to drag the focus away from the fact that a political prisoner has had his important voice silenced, and suck it into some vapid narrative about personal hygiene and kitty litter. Every few minutes there’s some blue-checkmarked goon making a juvenile tweet about how weird and gross Julian Assange is like a high school bully. There is no shortage of empire loyalists looking to prove themselves worthy lackeys before the watchful eyes of current and future employers.

And make no mistake, that is all it is ever about. The reason almost every journalist below a certain age has a Twitter account these days is because they are taught in no uncertain terms that building a social media profile is an essential part of the job. They know that their social media presence can be just as much a determining factor in whether or not they keep climbing the ladder of prestige and influence as their resume is. Reporters in western corporate media aren’t usually explicitly told to protect establishment interests, but the ones who consistently do are the ones who get hired to the choice jobs. Making a big show about what a good empire lackey you are by smearing Julian Assange at a key juncture in his fight is a great way to show your peers and superiors that you’re someone who plays along with the beltway groupthink, and the fact that Assange cannot defend himself from those smears makes it extremely risk-free.

So when you see some political writer yukking it up about Julian Assange and kitty litter, what they are really saying is, “Hey! Look at me! You can count on me to advance whatever narratives get passed down from on high! I’ll cheer on all the wars! I’ll play up the misdeeds of our great nation’s rivals and ignore the misdeeds of our allies! I’ll literally spit on Assange if you’ll give my career a boost!”

They are saying, “I support everything the media-controlling oligarchs support, and I hate everything they hate. I will be a reliable mouthpiece of the ruling class regardless of who is elected in our fake elections to our fake official government. I will say all the right things. I will protect what you need protected. I will hide what you want hidden. I understand what you want me to do without your explicitly telling me to do it. I’ve got what you need. I have no principles. Look, I’m even joining in the dog pile against a political prisoner who can’t defend himself.”

Reporters who bash Julian Assange while he is silenced instead of using their platforms to draw attention to the many, many wicked deeds that are being perpetrated by the powerful in their own country are the lowest of the low. They are scum. They are the scum that scum scrapes off its shoes. There is no more despicable, sniveling waste of space on this earth than someone who attacks the powerless on behalf of the powerful while calling themselves a journalist.


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