Why all Assange bashing is no good for journalism

Julian Assange, author of Wikileaks. His reputation has been hammered by fellow professionals.

Which brings us to the betrayal of Assange by the MSM. Here is what he was promised, according to Leigh and Harding, by reporter Nick Davies of The Guardian: “We are going to put you on the moral high ground – so high that you’ll need an oxygen mask. You’ll be up there with Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa… They won’t be able to arrest you. Nor can they shut down your website.” (Leigh and Harding, p. 99) I know Nick Davies well enough to believe that he meant every word. But instead, The Guardian, in the person of prominent reporters, is helping to bury Assange.

This betrayal carries a price for all journalists. People who try to talk to the media have just been shown, again, that when they blow the whistle they will be briefly applauded and then ripped open and handed to the wolves. That is precisely why Wikileaks came into being – because people who wanted to be heard did not trust the MSM. Judging by what’s happening to Assange, they were absolutely right.

Sources need help to reveal the abuse of power. Journalists rely on the goodwill of sources. However difficult Assange may be, it does not change those facts. Nor do the past exploits of his tormentors – Leigh and Brooke have done very good work – justify this campaign. In fact their reputations just make things worse, because they’re supposed to uphold standards. They are giving license to the lowlifes who thrive further down the news food chain. Enough: Whatever is behind the ugly spectacle of Assange’s former allies subverting their source, it has to stop.

Mark Lee Hunter is Adjunct Professor and Senior Research Fellow at the INSEAD Social Innovation Centre. He was a participant in open Democracy’s New News Seminar and is the author of Story-Based Inquiry: A Manual for Investigative Journalists (UNESCO 2009), Un Américain au Front : Enquête au sein du Front National (Paris: Stock, 1998) and a founding member of the Global Investigative Journalism Network.

Posted with permission from Prof Mark Lee Hunter. This article first appeared here: http://www.opendemocracy.net/mark-lee-hunter/why-all-assange-bashing-its-no-good-for-journalism

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