It's too bad Julian Assange is such an ass - Macleans.ca

It’s too bad Julian Assange is such an ass

Transparency should be the goal of WikiLeaks, not feeding Assange’s ego

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Kirsty Wigglesworth/Flickr

Julian’s at it again. Following news of his Kremlin-funded talkshow (!?), last week saw the albino nomad kicking up controversy in London over WikiLeaks’ complicity with Belarusian despot Alexander Lukashenko. It seems WikiLeaks provided Belarus with the names of anti-Lukashenko American “agents” who were then targeted by the regime. And now, as WikiLeaks slowly releases millions of security think tank emails exposing everything from Iranian military secrets to American financial fraud, Assange has found a way to once again make it all about him and the secret U.S. plot to bring him down.

Assange’s juvenile politics, his shameless fame-whoring, his greed, his paranoia, his bad hygiene and worse behaviour: all of it has distracted from the real conversation about transparency. What if he didn’t hate the U.S., blame Jews and cozy up to despots? What if Assange was just a guy dedicated to acquiring and releasing confidential information?

We might then be spared the endless hand-wringing over the ethics of Wikileaks. The strongest moral position for a leaking site is to offer no editorial spin, to play no favourites—to simply be a distributor of information that offers true anonymity for whistleblowers. Verifying the information, redacting the sensitive parts, packaging it into appealing narratives—this is the work of journalists.

Or rather, it should be. Instead, legacy media is too easily seduced into playing the lowbrow fame game, breathing life into Assange’s creepy cult of celebrity. This infamy has been inflated by the same “real” news organs that then indignantly turn up their noses at Assange.

Ultimately, it’s not about Julian Assange. It’s about the information.

Jesse Brown is the host of TVO.org’s Search Engine podcast. He is on Twitter @jessebrown

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