I was going to post on this yesterday when I first saw the story (not bother to link): we have Wikileaks offering up nearly 400,000 documents, which contain harrowing evidence of murder by U.S. forces and details well the 104,000 dead in the Iraq War that was long denied by the U.S. government. But the lead story on the NY Times Web site? A strange article on how, well, Assange acts like a normal human being who has been threatened by various people on the international scene and probably should have no doubt that some intelligence officials want to know what he knows (he switches phones! he wears disguises! he’s erratic!) Unbelievable: the lead story. Glenn Greenwald notes:
Richard Nixon and his plumbers could have only dreamed about being able to dispatch journalists to dutifully smear whistle-blowers in this manner. And all of that is totally independent of the lengthy discussion which Burns predictably includes of the unproven rape and harassment allegations against Assange. Apparently, faced with hundreds of thousands of documents vividly highlighting stomach-turning war crimes and abuses — death squads and widespread torture and civilian slaughter all as part of a war he admired for years and which his newspaper did more than any other single media outlet to enable — John Burns and his NYT editors decided that the most pressing question from this leak is this: what’s Julian Assange really like?
“Erratic and imperious behavior.” “Delusional grandeur. “Imperious.” “A vendetta against the United States.” “Not in his right mind.” Burns didn’t even bother to break into Assange’s psychiatrist’s office to smear the whistle-blower as a psychologically ill, America-hating subversive and paranoid narcissist. He just passed on snide rumors and accusations from disgruntled associates and — presto — the Nixonian smear job is complete. Of course, even for a borderline-sociopath, the guilt that one must experience for having enabled and cheered on a War that led to the amount of human suffering evident in these documents must be immense. The temptation to smear the messenger is undoubtedly a strong one. But no matter how much distracting sleaze Burns and his newspaper wallow in and spew at Assange, that damn spot won’t come out.