Jewish World Review Dec. 2, 2010 / 25 Kislev, 5771
The Phony Nobility of Wikileaks
By Bernard Goldberg
By exposing America for what it is, or at least for what he thinks it is, Mr. Assange is a hero, or at least he thinks he is. Except he isn't.
If Julian Assange really wants to be noble, idealistic and heroic if he really wants to make the world a safer place he would use his considerable talents to uncover the dark secrets hidden in places like Iran, China and Russia.
I'll bet they have some really great secrets. But finding an accomplice to hack into their computers and stealing classified material would take real courage. Steal secrets from any of those countries and there's an excellent chance Mr. Assange would wake up dead one morning. Break into U.S. State Department files and the worst thing that happens is that your lawyer gets a letter from the attorney general's office saying play nice.
But what Julian Assange has managed to do, inadvertently to be sure, is blow up the concept of confidentiality. If you can break into U.S. secret files with impunity, than everything is fair game --- including WikiLeaks itself.
Wouldn't you just love to know what Julian Assange and his band of merry men and women say and write in private? Do they worry that confidential informants might be killed because of their leaks involving the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Or do they think that the death of a few people working for the U.S. government is a small price to pay if it helps end two wars Mr. Assange doesn't believe should have been waged in the first place?
Ah, but those matters are confidential, don't you know. They're none of our business. They're private, not meant for outsiders. And WikiLeaks privacy must be respected.
Then there's the New York Times, which ran the WikiLeaks story on page one, which I would have also done since the documents were being published in four foreign newspapers and could easily be accessed on the WikiLeaks Website. But consider this: Just one year ago, the New York Times environmental reporter, Andrew Revkin, refused to publish confidential emails from English academics calling into question some crucial research about global warming, a scandal that came to be known as Climategate.
This was Mr. Revkin's statement of principle last year: "The documents appear to have been acquired illegally and contain all manner of private information and statements that were never intended for the public eye, so they won't be posted here" on his New York Times blog.
That was then. But after WikiLeaks, through an unnamed intermediary, gave the Times those state departments cables, the paper said their contents were not only available elsewhere but were in the public interest - and therefore should be published.
As Powerline, which first noted the Times' hypocrisy pointed out, "Without belaboring the pointy, let us note simply that the two statements are logically irreconcilable. Perhaps something other than principle and logic were at work then, or at work now."
That's a pretty safe assumption.
JWR contributor Bernard Goldberg, the television news reporter and author of Bias, a New York Times number one bestseller about how the media distort the news, is widely seen as one of the most original writers and thinkers in broadcast journalism. He has covered stories all over the world for CBS News and has won 10 Emmy awards for excellence in journalism. He won six Emmys at CBS, and four more at HBO, where he now reports for the widely acclaimed broadcast Real Sports.
In addition to his ground-breaking book Bias, Goldberg has written four other books on the media and American culture -- Arrogance, 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America: (And Al Franken is #37), Crazies to the Left of Me, Wimps to the Right, and A Slobbering Love Affair, about the news media's romance with Barack Obama. All have all been New York Times bestsellers.
In 2006 Bernie won the most prestigious of all broadcast journalism awards, the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for an HBO story about young, poor boys who were sold or kidnapped into slavery and were forced to risk their lives as camel jockeys in the United Arab Emirates, one of the wealthiest countries in the world.
Bernie has reported extensively, both at HBO and at CBS News, on the transformation of the American culture. At HBO, in the fall of 2000, he wrote the Emmy award winning documentary Do You Believe In Miracles, the dramatic story of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey team and the most famous hockey game ever -- the game between the United States and the Soviet Union that revitalized the American spirit and helped bring America out of the malaise it had suffered though much of the 1970s.
At CBS, he anchored two prime-time documentaries about how the American landscape was changing. Don't Blame Me showed how the United States was becoming a nation of finger-pointers whose citizens more and more were refusing to accept responsibility for their actions. In Your Face, America was an hour-long report about the coarsening of America, about how vulgar and uncivil our popular culture was becoming.
Bernie has written op-ed pieces that appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, about a wide range of subjects, including baseball, manners, and journalism.
He is also a news and media analyst for Fox News where he comments regularly on the state of the press and television news as well as on politics and culture for the network's top rated program, The O'Reilly Factor.
He is a graduate of Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey and a member of the school's Hall of Distinguished Alumni and proprietor of BernardGoldberg.com.
© 2010, Bernard Goldberg