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 April 11, 2019  Posted by at 10:57 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

William Hogarth Humours of an Election, Plate 2 1754



While we’re republishing articles about the newly arrested Julian Assange, in his honor, here’s one on the role the press has played in his ordeal. And will undoubtedly continue to play. What does it say about a society that you have to hold not only the government, but also the press to account?

We originally published this essay on August 17 2018.



Two thirds of Americans want the Mueller investigation (inquisition, someone called it) over by the midterm elections. Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani has said that if Mueller wants to interview Trump, he’ll have to do so before September 1, because the Trump camp doesn’t want to be the one to unduly influence the elections. Mueller himself appears to lean towards prolonging the case, and that may well be with an eye on doing exactly that.

And there’s something else as well: as soon as the investigation wraps up, Trump will demand a second special counsel, this time to scrutinize the role the ‘other side’ has played in the 2016 presidential election and its aftermath. He’s determined to get it, and he’ll fire both Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein if they try to stand in his way.

There have of course been tons of signs that it’s going to happen, but we got two significant ones just the past few days. The first is the termination of John Brennan’s security clearance. It looks impossible that no additional clearances will be revoked. There are more people who have them but would also be part of a second special counsel’s investigation. That doesn’t rhyme.

The second sign is Senator Rand Paul’s call for immunity for Julian Assange to come talk to the US senate about what he knows about Russian involvement in the 2016 election. Obviously, we know that he denies its very existence, and has offered to provide evidence to that end. But before he could do that, a potential deal with the DOJ to do so was torpedoed by then FBI chief James Comey and Senator Mark Warner.

Both will also be part of the second investigation. Rand Paul’s motivation is simple: Assange’s testimony could be a very significant part of the process of figuring out what actually happened. And that should be what everybody in Washington wants. Question is if they all really do. That’s -ostensibly- why there is the first, the Mueller Russian collusion, investigation. Truth finding.

But Mueller doesn’t appear to have found much of anything. At least, that we know of. He’s locked up Paul Manafort on charges unrelated to collusion, put him in isolation and dragged him before a jury. But don’t be surprised if Manafort is acquitted by that jury one of these days. The case against him seemed a lot more solid before than it does now. A jury that asks the judge to re-define ‘reasonable doubt’ already is in doubt, reasonable or not. And that is what reasonable doubt means.


But it wasn’t just Brennan and Comey and Peter Strzok and Lisa Page and all the rest of them in the intelligence community who played questionable roles around the election and the accusations of Russian meddling in it. The American media were also there, and very prominently. Which is why when 300 papers publish editorials pushing against Trump ‘attacking’ the media, you can’t help but -wryly- smile.

Why does Trump attack the press? Because they’ve been attacking him for two years, and they’re not letting go. So the press can attack the president, but he cannot fight back. That’s the rationale, but with the Mueller investigation not going anywhere it’s a hard one to keep alive.

There are three reasons for the behavior of the New York Times, WaPo, MSNBC, CNN et al. The first is political, they’re Democrat hornblowers. The second is their owners have a personal thing against Donald Trump. But these get trumped by the third reason: Trump is their golden goose. Their opposition makes them a fortune. All they need to do is publish articles 24/7 denouncing him. And they have for two years.

That puts the 300 papers’ editorials in a strange light. Many of them would have been fighting for their very lives if not for anti-Trump rhetoric. All 300 fit neatly and easily in one echo chamber. And, to put it mildly, inside that chamber, not everyone is always asking for evidence of everything that’s being said.

It’s not difficult to whoop up a storm there without crossing all your t’s. And after doing just that for 2 years and change, it seems perhaps a tad hypocritical to claim that you are honest journalists just trying to provide people with the news as it happened.

Because when you’ve published hundreds, thousands of articles about Russian meddling, and the special counsel that was named to a large degree because of those articles, fails to come up with any evidence of it, it will become obvious that you’ve not just, and honestly, been reporting the news ‘as it happened’. You have instead been making things up because you knew that would sell better.

And when the second special counsel starts, where will American media be? Sure, it may not happen before the midterms, and you may have hopes that the Democrats win those bigly, but even if that comes to pass (slim chance), Trump will still be president, and the hearings and interviews won’t be soft and mild. Also, there will be serious questions, under oath, about leaks to the press.


Still, whichever side of this particular fence you’re on, there’s one thing we should all be able to agree on. That is, when we get to count how many of the 300 editorials have actually mentioned, let alone defended, Julian Assange, and I’ll bet you that number is painfully close to zero, that is where we find out how honest this defense of the free press is.

If for you the free press means that you should be able to write and broadcast whatever you want, even if it’s lacking in evidence, as much of the Russiagate stuff obviously is, and you ‘forget’ to mention a man who has really been attacked and persecuted for years, for publishing files that are all about evidence, you are not honest, and therefore probably not worth saving.

Julian Assange and WikiLeaks are the essence of the free press. A press that is neutral, objective, fearless and determined to get the truth out. The New York Times and CNN simply don’t fit that description -anymore-. So when their editors publish calls to protect free press, but they leave out the one person who really represents free press, and the one person who’s been tortured for exactly that, you have zero credibility.

Sure, you may appear to have credibility in your echo chamber, but that’s not where real life takes place, where evidence is available and where people can make up their own minds based on objective facts provided by real journalists.

You guys just blew this big time. You don’t care about free press, you care about your own asses. And the second special counsel is coming. Good luck. Oh, and we won’t forget your silencing of Assange, or your attacks on him. If you refuse to do it, WE will free the press.



Home Forums WE Will Free The Press

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    William Hogarth Humours of an Election, Plate 2 1754     While we’re republishing articles about the newly arrested Julian Assange, in his h
    [See the full post at: WE Will Free The Press]

    Dr. D

    “Assange’s testimony could be a very significant part of the process of figuring out what actually happened.”

    Which is why we don’t know what’s going on. One side earnestly wants him to testify and name who what where when and how, and the other side does not. Both sides have guns, and as the L.A. Times reported, were shooting at each other in Syria in a war of bureaucratic ideology. Let’s hope it stays at the level of subpoena-storm, since the last time the Yanks went to war they nuked two cities.

    Since Britain had MI6 try to throw the election, then remove a sitting president just for sheer amusement, they are not going to allow Assange to reveal them, reverse all their work and then throw England, Australia, and New Zealand under the bus. So it’s not like Trump can ask nicely. IF you were going to get Assange under a microphone and an oath, you’d have to convince Britain, May, and MI6 that you had every intention of throwing him out of an airplane, over the seas, by Guantanamo, into a bathtub of sharks. You do that by giving it to the worst guys you can find, like Bolton and Pompeo.

    In fact, as you say, he is the best and only ally of Trump, against what you describe as the same, the common enemies. Enemies of free speech, due process, and state secrecy and tyranny of bureaucracy. 90% of which are our own government, and yours too, wherever you may be on the big blue marble.

    So we’re in the cheap seats and can only watch what happens. But there’s lots of sides working here, all lying, and if they can convince each other of their lies, it’s going to be far harder for us to guess what’s real. As citizens, it’s our job to voice our intent for free speech and fair, due process, as we would for any other journalist, or fellow man. If Assange goes down, there will always be another, because if you’re so much as reading this, they are coming for you and me until these agencies are put back on the leash of accountability and justice.


    Thank you Dr. D, and thank you Raul for writing this.

    I think that Dr. D is right about one thing. There is a bureaucratic civil war going on here in America, it was being played out on the plains of Mesopotamia. We are now seeing the next act of the play set in London.

    Right now we are just “in the cheap seats” and watching.

    What I feel is interesting is that the forced extradition came after the release of the Mueller report. If the purpose was to silence Assange, the extradiction probably need to come before the report release. Now that the report has been released, Assange will probably be able to harm the Democrats as part of the Trumpmeister”s response to being continually attacked for the last 2-plus years.

    But, there is the civil war in the deep-state that is discussed. Does Trumpster have enough power within the intelligence communities to keep Assange from dying of a previously non-diagnosed fatal illness long enough to shed some light?


    I also want to voice some thought from the peanut gallery.

    Julian Assange and WikiLeaks are the essence of the free press. A press that is neutral, objective, fearless and determined to get the truth out. The New York Times and CNN simply don’t fit that description -anymore-

    We will see if the “free press” is bought by what they do in the near future.
    Then … will the truth come out? Will the truth change our social/economic systems?
    In other words ….. will the truth matter?


    Just sent this to my MP, Dennis Skinner. For what it’s worth….

    Dear Mr Skinner,

    I am disgusted at the treatment of Julian Assange by British authorities. Mr Assange has claimed, for the last 7 years, that the legal actions he faced were politically motivated, and intended to result in his extradition to America. He has been proven correct; arrested under a US warrant for publishing information revealing WAR CRIMES, MURDER, & CORRUPTION. To my mind, publishing such material is exactly what any good journalist should do.

    All journalists and whistle-blowers should feel safe and able to report details of such events. It does not matter if the source is classified documentation. Classification, it seems to me, is frequently used for political security rather than national security. Used to cover-up events that could be expected to sway public opinion against military action, for example. This means we need more people like Mr Assange in the world. How else are we to protect against this creeping authoritarianism, which only seems to serve and protect the military-industrial complex?

    I trust, as your constituent, that you are equally uncomfortable with this, and will do everything in your ability to influence the government on this matter. Julian Assange, as a journalist, is a hero. He has made great sacrifices. He deserves protection. So do those who will follow in his footsteps.

    All of this just adds to my growing disquiet. The ongoing betrayal of democracy with regard to leaving the EU. Decades of war, with no winners except for the corporate profiteers, banks, and political cronies. Now, I watch press freedom thrown away, in order to obfuscate past war crimes, and ensure future ones go unreported. This is terrifying. I cannot consent to any system that permits this to happen. And the cornerstone of democracy, surely, is that we are governed with our consent.

    Kind regards,


    Trump Responds To Assange Arrest: “I Know Nothing About Wikileaks”
    ” …. to remind the president of his support for the organization during the campaign.”

    Memory loss and other symptoms of dementia

    While symptoms of dementia can vary greatly, at least two of the following core mental functions must be significantly impaired to be considered dementia:

    Communication and language
    Ability to focus and pay attention
    Reasoning and judgment
    Visual perception

    Doc Robinson

    Some welcome coverage, from USAToday:

    They will punish Assange for their sins

    The key to the prosecution of Assange has always been to punish him without again embarrassing the powerful figures made mockeries by his disclosures. That means to keep him from discussing how the U.S. government launched an unprecedented surveillance program that scooped up the emails and communications of citizens without a warrant or probable cause. He cannot discuss how Democratic and Republican members either were complicit or incompetent in their oversight. He cannot discuss how the public was lied to about the program.

    A glimpse of that artificial scope was seen within minutes of the arrest. CNN brought on its national security analyst, James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence. CNN never mentioned that Clapper was accused of perjury in denying the existence of the surveillance program and was personally implicated in the scandal that Wikileaks triggered. He was asked directly before Congress “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” Clapper responded, “No, sir. … Not wittingly.” Later, Clapper said that his testimony was “the least untruthful” statement he could make. That would still make it a lie, of course, but this is Washington and people like Clapper are untouchable. In the view of the establishment, Assange is the problem.

    Washington needs to silence Assange

    So, on CNN, Clapper was allowed to explain (without any hint of self-awareness or contradiction) that Assange has “caused us all kinds of grief in the intelligence community.” Indeed, few people seriously believe that the government is aggrieved about password protection. The grief was the disclosure of an abusive surveillance program and a long record of lies to the American people. Assange will be convicted of the felony of causing embarrassment in the first degree.

    Notably, no one went to jail or was fired for the surveillance programs. Those in charge of failed Congressional oversight were reelected. Clapper was never charged with perjury. Even figures shown to have lied in the Clinton emails, like former CNN commentator Donna Brazile (who lied about giving Clinton’s campaign questions in advance of the presidential debates), are now back on television. However, Assange could well do time.

    With Assange’s extradition, all will be well again in Washington. As Manchin declared, he is their “property” and will be punished for his sins. Once he is hoisted as a wretch, few will again entertain such hubris in the future.

    Jonathan Turley, a member of USA TODAY’s Board of Contributors, is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University.


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