Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Truest statement of the week II

The release of Poitras’ film has become the occasion for large portions of the American media to vent their malicious hatred of Assange, taking for good coin the claims of the Democratic Party and its orbit, for which absolutely no proof has been offered, that WikiLeaks passed on damning information about the Clinton campaign it received from Russian sources.
It is not necessary to cite many of the disgraceful and slanderous comments—a few will give the general idea. Owen Gleiberman in Variety headlines his piece, “In ‘Risk,’ the Radical Chic of Julian Assange Reaches Its Sell-By Date,” and suggests that at certain moments in the documentary, Assange “comes off as the flip side of Donald Trump: a pure creation of media who pretends to care about this or that, when it’s really all about him” and, moreover, is possibly “a pimp of information for Vladimir Putin’s regime.”
Daily Beast, unsurprisingly, claims that “WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Is an Egomaniacal, Sexist Creep in ‘Risk,’” while the Atlantic asserts that “Every time Julian Assange appears in Laura Poitras’s new documentary, Risk, there’s a distinct impression of his quiet thrill at being on camera” and that he is “a preening, icy figure throughout the film.”
Fred Kaplan at Slate has a history of venomous attacks on Assange and WikiLeaks. His review of Risk is yet another. Referring at one point to Poitras’ comment that she no longer trusts Assange, Kaplan asks: “But what specifically bred Poitras’ distrust of Assange? The sex charges; the Russia connection; his blooming paranoia; the sense, gleaned from several in Assange’s entourage (we see it on the faces of his lawyers and advisers, as they try to debrief him on his legal and PR troubles) that he’s a narcissistic asshole; all of the above? It isn’t clear.”
He adds: “Long before the 2016 election, then, it should have been clear to anyone with eyes that WikiLeaks—which may once have been dedicated to truth and transparency—had degenerated into a Kremlin tool.”

A. O. Scott of the New York Times too feels obliged to join this right-wing chorus. He asserts that the “pressing empirical questions about Mr. Assange now have to do with the extent and nature of his intervention in the [2016 US] election,” and goes on to note that the “deeper and historical” question haunting him most “goes something like this: What if some of the organizations and individuals [presumably WikiLeaks and Assange] that seemed, not so long ago, to be pushing liberal democracy to live up to its potential were actually contributing to its demise?”

-- David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, "Risk: Laura Poitras’ confused, superficial documentary about Julian Assange and WikiLeaks" (WSWS).

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