Fake news has run amok at The Guardian.
The Guardian published an entirely false article recently, which selectively edited quotes from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange about Russia and President-elect Donald Trump.
Ben Jacobs wrote the fake news article entitled, Julian Assange Gives Guarded Praise of Trump and Blasts Clinton In Interview.
The title’s claims, however, are gross misrepresentations of what Assange actually said.
The article consists of quotes from an interview that Assange did with La Republica – an Italian newspaper that published the full transcript of the interview online.
But Jacobs edited Assange’s quotes together to deceive his readers and weave a false narrative that aligns with The Guardian’s opinions.
For instance, Assange never endorsed Donald Trump, nor was he even asked what his opinion on Trump was, but he did clarify what a Trump win would mean.
“Hillary Clinton’s election would have been a consolidation of power in the existing ruling class of the United States. Donald Trump is not a DC insider, he is part of the wealthy ruling elite of the United States, and he is gathering around him a spectrum of other rich people and several idiosyncratic personalities.
They do not by themselves form an existing structure, so it is a weak structure, which is displacing and destabilizing the pre-existing central power network within DC. It is a new patronage structure which will evolve rapidly, but at the moment its looseness means there are opportunities for change in the United States: change for the worse and change for the better.”
The narrative that Jacobs tried to weave was Assange’s admiration for Trump, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, arguably, Assange even criticized Trump as surrounding himself with “a spectrum of other rich people and several idiosyncratic personalities.”
The article further implied Assange believes Russia to be transparent and that competitors to WikiLeaks surely already exist there. Jacobs used a quote from Assange, reading:
“In Russia, there are many vibrant publications, online blogs, and Kremlin critics such as [Alexey] Navalny are part of that spectrum.
There are also newspapers like “Novaya Gazeta,” in which different parts of society in Moscow are permitted to critique each other and it is tolerated, generally, because it isn’t a big TV channel that might have a mass popular effect, its audience is educated people in Moscow. So my interpretation is that in Russia there are competitors to WikiLeaks.”
But Jacobs omitted a big piece of that quote that clarified Assange’s position.
Assange continued to explain that due to WikiLeaks being a native English-speaking organization with few translators, it is easier for Russian whistleblowers to contact Russian-speaking publications:
“So my interpretation is that in Russia there are competitors to WikiLeaks, and no WikiLeaks staff speak Russian, so for a strong culture which has its own language, you have to be seen as a local player.
WikiLeaks is a predominantly English-speaking organisation with a website predominantly in English. We have published more than 800,000 documents about or referencing Russia and president Putin, so we do have quite a bit of coverage, but the majority of our publications come from Western sources, though not always.
For example, we have published more than 2 million documents from Syria, including Bashar al-Assad personally. Sometimes we make a publication about a country and they will see WikiLeaks as a player within that country, like with Timor East and Kenya.
The real determinant is how distant that culture is from English. Chinese culture is quite far away.”
Except Assange said in the interview that WikiLeaks has definitively published documents on Russia, but that many whistleblowers consider other publications before bringing their information to WikiLeaks.
The Guardian article claimed that Assange stated Russia was not in need of whistleblowing due to its open and free press.
Jacobs’ fake news article spread like wildfire on social media and was even shared on Twitter by a writer of The Washington Post, which of course was retweeted.