WSJ wants Assange indicted for competition

Posted on by TheLastPsychiatrist and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

assange, wikileaksThe WSJ calls for Assange to be indicted, elaborating on the difference between him and regular media (they use the NYT as their counterexample).

Yet the WSJ also announces the start of their new site, Safe House:

Documents and databases: They’re key to modern journalism. But they’re almost always hidden behind locked doors, especially when they detail wrongdoing such as fraud, abuse, pollution, insider trading, and other harms. That’s why we need your help. If you have newsworthy contracts, correspondence, emails, financial records or databases from companies, government agencies or non-profits, you can send them to us using the SafeHouse service.

The easy criticism is that the Journal, i.e. Murdoch, is being hypocritical.  But no good deed goes unpunished: the difference is that Assange has set up Wikileaks so that the attention is on himself.  That may sound like arrogance, but it’s also a technical maneuver: if the focus is on him, it’s not on the person who leaked him the information.

Safe House is explicitly the opposite.

You agree not to use SafeHouse for any unlawful purpose… we reserve the right to disclose any information about you to law enforcement authorities or to a requesting third party, without notice, in order to comply with any applicable laws and/or requests under legal process, to operate our systems properly, to protect the property or rights of Dow Jones or any affiliated companies, and to safeguard the interests of others.

There are three ways to understand this:

1. It’ simply business: they want a hot story, but they want to limit their liability.

2. It’s a honeypot: send us your leaks so we can find out who the leakers are.

3.  It’s a source for the WSJ to reference for a totally unsubstantiated rumor.  “Obama is gay, according to a source at  Safe House.”

But the reality is in the middle: Assange and Murdoch represent two extreme ends of a spectrum. Assange has declared himself anti-US, and Wikileaks is his weapon.  Murdoch is explicity pro-US, and any information he receives will be filtered accordingly.

In other words, neither represent journalism in any meaningful way.  They are both commentary. 

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