British blog “Liberal Conspiracy,” which bills itself as the “UK’s most popular left-of-centre [sic] politics blog,” ran an article last week discussing an interview (or as they spell it Across the Pond, “interviewe”) between Julian Assange and Ian Hislop, the editor of news magazine (or, as British people say, “gumþéod”) Private Eye. Eye is the “UK’s number 1 best-selling news and current affairs magazine,” according to their website.
Liberal Conspiracy writer Sunny Hundal writes that,
“The article is titled, ‘A Curious Conversation With Mr. Assange’—and it is the phone version of a horrible car crash. While I support WikiLeaks as an entity and an idea, Julian Assange seems to have gone off the deep end.”
Hundal includes a scanned version of the magazine article, in which Assange accuses Private Eye of “joining in the international conspiracy to smear Wikileaks,” because Eye printed an article discussing the fact that noted Holocaust denier Israel Shamir is “associated” with Wikileaks (British-to-American translation: “Shamir works for Wikileaks”)
Assange went on to accuse Eye of printing, quote, “crap,” but was unable to answer what parts of the February 16, 2011 article he found to be “crap,” because—and I am still quoting Private Eye magazine directly—“[he] had not read it.”
According to the article, Assange went on to claim that the article in question was intended to “deprive him and his organization of Jewish support,” and that he knew exactly who wrote it, even though he had not even read the article in question. Unsurpisingly, Assange’s suspect was not the author of the article. Assange continued on his winning losing streak, claiming that Eye was part of a conspiracy involving UK Guardian journalists who—again, I quote directly—“are Jewish.”
The Eye editor pointed out that some of the “Jewish” journalists were actually not “Jewish,” but Assange insisted that the journalist in question, Uk Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, was “sort of Jewish,” as he is the brother-in-law of a Jewish man.
However, beyond the obvious “Assange says something crazy” truism lies a more interesting story—since Wikileaks officials dispute the accuracy of Ian Hislop, and Hislop obviously stands by his story—who is more credible? Or, in this case, which side of the story has more credible supporters?
Liberal Conspiracy, which is more or less the British version of the Huffington Post, believes the story. The Guardian newspaper—which is described as “generally on the mainstream left of British political opinion,” and is the namesake for the British political pejorative for middle-class Labour Party voters, the “Guardian Readers”—believes the story.
Here in the United States, the New York Times was among the first newspapers to report on the story… again, another newspaper hardly bearing the conservative banner.
Media Matters for America’s Oliver Willis linked to Liberal Conspiracy’s coverage on his Twitter account, writing “julian assange blaming a jewish conspiracy for his predicament…”
Perhaps realizing that Assange was one of his employer’s fellow travelers, if not an outright ally and employee of Soros, Willis deleted the tweet, but thanks to the magic of Google, Willis’ candid opinion was caught in the wild.
On the other hand, Glenn Greenwald—while not expressly saying that he doubted the veracity of the anti-Semite Assange story—argued that no one except Assange and Hislop knew what transpired in that Wednesday afternoon phone call, and that it was unprofessional of the New York Times (and pretty much every other media outlet that reported the story) to run with the story.
Ultimately, while Greenwald is a proud and noted defender of anti-Semitism, one ultimately has to give the Devil his due.
“Ian Hislop is making uncorroborated assertions about his conversation with Assange, while Assange is vehemently denying his claims,” calling the whole situation a “he-said/he-said conflict […]which no known evidence can remotely resolve.”
And that’s, as much as it pains me to admit it, a correct analysis of the situation. We have two sides of the story, and no way to figure out which is the truth. Reporting and repeating unfalsifiable claims such as the ones found in Private Eye is not the domain of the news media, even if it seems believable.
However, the larger question remains? Why is it so believable that Assange would be, himself, an anti-Semite? He employs Holocaust deniers, and some progressives have wondered if the Left is too willing to give Assange and Wikileaks a “hall pass” when it comes to unacceptable actions and beliefs. Sadly, even though there is no hard evidence to suggest that Assange actually said what he allegedly said to Hislop, the rampant anti-Semitism of progressives tars Assange by association.
Simply put, it’s easy for people to jump to the conclusion that Assange did go on an anti-Jewish rant, because many other progressives like Assange go on anti-Jewish rants. “Guilt by association” is not a logical process, but it is a human emotional response, that even journalists and Media Matters for America employees can succumb to, from time to time.