Media Analysis

Julian Assange is free: Two-faced media welcomes him home as a hero

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(Image by Dan Jensen)

Managing editor Michelle Pini discusses the largely non-existent role of Australia's mainstream media in Julian Assange's homecoming. 

WIKILEAKS founder Julian Assange is finally home.

Though he committed no crime but was required to plead guilty in order to secure freedom, Assange’s release from custody is still a triumph of free speech over oppression — a human right for which he has paid dearly.

It is the opinion of Independent Australia that no one has made a more profound sacrifice for global free speech or paid a heavier price so far this century than Assange, who has suffered deplorable and brutal persecution for almost 14 years. The grotesque and unjust torture of Julian Assange is a crime against us all.

This is especially true when we consider that all the publications that profited from Julian’s journalism, such as The Guardian and others were not also accused of espionage, nor were their founders locked away in high-security prisons, in solitary confinement with only an hour per day of sunlight and without access to the internet — their day to day activities continuing along without inconvenience.

Nor did these media outlets actively campaign for his release — quite the opposite.

The late John Pilger wrote in IA in 2020:

A decade ago, The Guardian exploited Assange’s work, claimed its profit and prizes as well as a lucrative Hollywood deal, then turned on him with venom.

 

Throughout the Old Bailey trial, two names have been cited by the prosecution: The Guardian’s David Leigh, now retired as “investigations editor” and Luke Harding, the Russiaphobe and author of a fictional Guardian “scoop” that claimed Trump adviser Paul Manafort and a group of Russians visited Assange in the Ecuadorean embassy. This never happened and The Guardian has yet to apologise.

 

The Harding and Leigh book on Assange – written behind their subject’s back – disclosed a secret password to a WikiLeaks file that Assange had entrusted to Leigh during The Guardian’s “partnership”. 

In another of his many IA articles on the plight of Assange, Pilger described former Guardian UK editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger as 'Assange's principal media tormentor' and revealed:

'With Assange now trapped in the Ecuadorean embassy, Harding joined the police outside and gloated that "Scotland Yard may get the last laugh".'

And yet, while many among our predominantly gutless and lacklustre Fourth Estate will now laud his return (despite their not lifting a finger to offer assistance of any kind) some continue to attack him.

Yesterday, ABC journalist Patricia Karvelas shared a personal opinion.

However, unlike Laura Tingle, who received "counselling" and Antoinette Lattouf who was dismissed, this particular ABC employee can likely opine away without consequence. This is because Karvelas' view reflects the new-look, decidedly anti-woke national broadcaster.

Pence's comment is, of course, completely false, since in 2013:

'...A U.S. official ... who led the Pentagon's review into the fallout from the WikiLeaks disclosures [testified that] no instances were ever found of any individual killed by enemy forces as a result of having been named in the releases'.

Karvelas later tweeted that she didn’t agree with Pence:

Perhaps this is true, but it would be fair to say she has hardly championed Assange’s cause as can be seen from this 2018 social media post when she said of Assange:

Of course, Karvelas has hardly been alone in not only refusing to support Assange but instead aiding and abetting the forces that chose to lock him up and would likely have thrown away the key.

Indeed, 2018 was a popular time for Australian establishment media representatives to shun Assange as even being a journalist worthy of membership to their hallowed club.

Lisa Millar scolded colleague Andrew Fowler in a now-deleted tweet (IA emphasis):

'That remains a disputed opinion Andrew. Publisher and activist yes. But you put yourself in a small camp calling him a journalist.'

Once more for the record, anyone who still has any doubts about Julian's credibility as a journalist can peruse some of his awards here.

As this writer wrote back in 2019:

Some, shockingly, even went as far as to be selective with who is deserving of freedom. The lauded journalist, Peter Greste, for example, went to great lengths to assert that Julian Assange should not be afforded the same rights as everyone else since he is not a “real” journalist.

 

Even The Guardian, which profited from the whistleblowing research provided by WikiLeaks, deserted Assange.

 

While you may or may not agree with Assange’s methods – just as many of us do not agree with News Corp’s methods – there is no doubt that he is a journalist.

On Tuesday (25 June), the day his imminent release was announced, the ABC news report chose to highlight earlier, sexual assault offences brought against the WikiLeaks founder but neglected to mention that these have since been discredited.

Nor has the ABC been the only Australian news platform silent on Assange's plight.

Over the many years of Assange’s persecution, our Fourth Estate primarily wiped its hands off him as the world's foremost superpower silenced him. Sure, a journalist was languishing in a five-foot cell without daylight, facing extradition and capital punishment but hey, they already got as much mileage as possible from his work and well, it was hardly worth bringing the wrath of the U.S. down on the rest of our “journalists”.

We do not expect much will be made in the mainstream media about the role of the PM but it is important to note that Assange’s lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, thanked Prime Minister Albanese, in particular, for:

"...His statesmanship, his principled leadership and his diplomacy, which made this outcome possible...

We wouldn't be here today without the Prime Minister of Australia's support.”

Much respect to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese for honouring his promise to Julian Assange. 

Tireless advocate John Pilger was black-banned from the establishment media, even from so-called progressive outlets like the ABC, for daring to speak truth to power, with statements like this one made in IA:

'[Julian Assange and David McBride's] bravery has allowed many of us, who might despair, to understand the real meaning of a resistance we all share if we want to prevent the conquest of us, our conscience, our self-respect, if we prefer freedom and decency to compliance and collusion.'

Today, every major news outlet will be clamouring to get the "scoop" interview upon Julian’s release. Forgotten are the times they refused to even acknowledge him as a journalist. Forgotten are the profits made from his sacrifice. And out of mind is Julian Assange’s near-destruction just for practising journalism and standing up for freedom of the press.

Eminent journalist and friend of this publication Peter Cronau tweeted in 2021:

'I can’t wait till Julian Assange is invited to speak at the National Press Club in Canberra, after he wins his court case against extradition. He might have a thing or two to say…'

We can’t wait either, but it would be fitting if only those who tried to have Julian's plight heard, only those members of the Fourth Estate who bothered to speak up or who at least gave a toss would be permitted to attend.

Of course, that would be a "small camp" indeed.

Once more for the record:

Julian Assange is a journalist — in every sense of the word. He is a fearless truth-teller.

Our legacy media, for the most part, should hang their heads in shame.

Welcome home and thank you, Julian Assange.

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Follow managing editor Michelle Pini on Twitter @vmp9. Follow Independent Australia on Twitter/X @independentaus and Facebook HERE.

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