How unseemly for New York Times executive editor Bill Keller to look down so disdainfully at WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, with a nasty ad hominem portrayal in last Sunday's New York Times Magazine, "Dealing With Assange and the WikiLeaks Secrets."
Someone should count how many disparaging descriptions Keller slips in about Assange's personal appearance and ask how that's important to the issues of the factually-verified documentation that WikiLeaks has revealed relating to war crimes, civilian killings, deceitful foreign policies and major frauds.
Can "shooting the messenger" reach any lower depths than Keller's disdain for the brainy, but allegedly dirty-socked Assange?
Removing all the irrelevant belittlement,
Keller apparently views Assange as little more than a difficult
"source," not someone engaged in "real" journalism.
Keller's long-winded article reads like a sadly typical maneuver common among Establishment journalists who try to place themselves under the safe umbrella of the First Amendment while leaving "whistleblowers" out in the stinging rain.
In doing so, Keller reveals how dismissive he is about factual correctness (truth), which depends on such "sources," knowledgeable insiders or others with access to sensitive information who have the courage to share it with the press and the public.
(I get a little sensitive about this after having my own "whistleblowing" once lumped in with FBI spy Robert Hanssen's selling secrets to the Soviet Union.)
Yet, while portraying Assange as a somewhat unstable and unreliable fellow, Keller leaves out his own background which would be relevant for readers evaluating why Keller might take such a dismissive attitude toward WikiLeaks' revelations of war crimes in Iraq.
Though you wouldn't learn it from reading last Sunday's article, Keller was one of the prominent American journalists who jumped on President George W. Bush's pro-Iraq War bandwagon when that was the "smart" career move.
In February 2003, Keller declared himself a member of "The I-Can't-Believe-I'm-a-Hawk Club," justifying Bush's planned invasion.
"We reluctant hawks may disagree among ourselves about the most compelling logic for war -- protecting America, relieving oppressed Iraqis or reforming the Middle East -- but we generally agree that the logic for standing pat does not hold," Keller wrote.
Keller expressed pride that his pro-invasion contingent was led by the "eloquent" British Prime Minister Tony Blair and included "op-ed regulars at this newspaper [the New York Times] and The Washington Post, the editors of The New Yorker, The New Republic and Slate, columnists in Time and Newsweek."
In other words, many of the top careerist journalists (as well as politicians) -- many of them "baby-boom liberals," as Keller noted -- had finally seen the light. They were ready to cheer on Bush's war of choice even if it did violate international law. After all, at the time, there was no career downside in going with the pro-war flow.
Rationalizing his decision to join the war-hawk club, Keller also managed to get nearly every imaginable point wrong.
Keller praised Secretary of State Colin Powell's "skillful parsing of the evidence" on Iraq's WMD. But that speech to the United Nations turned out to be replete with lies and distortions, so much so that Powell later deemed it a "blot" on his record.
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