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Media Defended, Praised Wikileaks Before They Began Trying to Link It to Trump

By Craig Bannister | October 27, 2017 | 4:08pm EDT
Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange

After The Daily Beast reported that the head of a data analytics firm that worked for the Trump campaign had approached Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange, liberal media pounced on the opportunity to condemn the connection. But, media haven’t always been so critical of Assange and Wikileaks.

On Wednesday, The Beast reported that Alexander Nix, who heads Cambridge Analytics, had contacted Assange in connection to the missing emails from Hillary Clinton’s controversial private server. And, even though Assange reportedly rejected the request, The Beast framed Wikileaks as a “hostile intelligence service”:

“The interchange between Nix—whose company made millions from the Trump campaign—and Assange represents the closest known connection between Trump’s campaign and Wikileaks.”

….

“Trump’s CIA director was calling WikiLeaks a tool of Kremlin spies and the equivalent of a “hostile intelligence service.”

The New York Times quickly attempted to link Trump and Assange to Russian hackers:

“Trump campaign analytics company contacted WikiLeaks about Clinton emails

"The communication with Mr. Nix could more closely link the Trump campaign and Mr. Assange, whose website has published thousands of emails stolen from Democratic officials. United States intelligence agencies believe the documents were originally obtained by Russia-linked hackers.”

CNN echoed the “closest link” claim, dubbing the news a “revelation”:

“The new revelation establishes the closest known link between the Trump campaign and Wikileaks. And it happened while Trump was on the campaign trail, increasingly criticizing Hillary Clinton for deleting thousands of emails from her private server.”

MSNBC cheered the report as a “breakthrough” in its attempts to prove Trump, somehow, colluded with Russia during last year's presidential election:

“A breakthrough in the Russia case as an explosive report from The Daily Beast reveals Trump's digital team asked Julian Assange to coordinate on releasing Clinton emails.”

CBS and The Huffington Post also jumped at the chance to report the potential Trump-Wikileaks connection.

But, times have change – especially at The Times, which had previously framed pro-Wikileaks hackers as defenders of “freedom” and Assange a champion of “truth.”

When the New York Times published stolen sensitive American diplomatic cables from a Wikileaks document dump, it praised Wikileaks for exposing “the unvarnished truth” – a truth it had an obligation to report and the American public had a right to know:

“For The Times to ignore this material would be to deny its own readers the careful reporting and thoughtful analysis they expect when this kind of information becomes public.

“But the more important reason to publish these articles is that the cables tell the unvarnished story of how the government makes its biggest decisions, the decisions that cost the country most heavily in lives and money...As daunting as it is to publish such material over official objections, it would be presumptuous to conclude that Americans have no right to know what is being done in their name.”

The Times’ style magazine has also praised Wikileaks for publishing “unvarnished sensitive truths” and promoting “transparency”:

“WikiLeaks spews forth unvarnished, sensitive truths. Assange’s extraordinary project provides transparency unbridled.”

Likewise, NPR invited Times Executive Editor Bill Keller on to explore the “value” of Wikileaks’ “absolutely fascinating” revelations of hacked emails, giving him the forum to declare:

“There are lots of things that governments have the right to keep secret. It’s their job to keep it secret. It’s not the press’s job to do that.”

Over at NBC, the network has used its “Today” show to explore the softer side of Assange by airing a clip of Assange’s mother calling for the world to “stand up for my brave son.” That same program featured an investigative journalist from Oxford University describing Assange as “funny,” “intelligent,” and “not at all...rigid.”

And, on another episode of “Today,” the show promoted Assange as one of “short list of finalists to be named Time magazine’s “Person of the Year,” in which Time's Managing Editor Richard Stengel declared that Assange “absolutely” had a shot at winning because he had “an enormous year” of “changing the perception of secrecy.”

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