‘Deceitful’ article goes viral, but here’s what Julian Assange ACTUALLY said about Donald Trump

dcnf-2Eric Lieberman, DCNF

Despite what you may have heard, Julian Assange, editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, did not praise President-elect Donald Trump in an interview with an Italian news outlet.

Photo source: Nationofchange.com
Photo source: Nationofchange.com

Ben Jacobs, a reporter for the Guardian, wrote an article titled “Julian Assange gives guarded praise of Trump and blasts Clinton in interview.” In it, Assange’s original statements appear to support that WikiLeaks’ exposure of Democratic party operations in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election handed Trump the victory.

But that’s not exactly how it went.

The article spread like wildfire on the Internet, exemplifying a common tendency of readers to particularly take a headline, and its copy, as fact, rather than finding the original source itself.

Stefania Maurizi, the journalist for Italy’s la Repubblica who conducted the interview with Assange, vehemently denies Jacobs’ interpretation.

Jacobs’ first claim was that the WikiLeaks founder “gives guarded praise of Trump.”

To boil down the main excerpt in question, Assange said that there is a “new patronage structure which will evolve rapidly” but during the embryonic period of Trump’s presidency “there are opportunities for change in the United States: change for the worse and change for the better.”

Assange’s viewpoint can hardly be considered as praise, which is generally understood in the modern lexicon as warm approval or admiration. Several Democrats — like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Chuck Schumer — have expressed highly similar sentiments to those of Assange, all without being pinned as an advocate for Trump (even retaining their pro-Clinton badges), Greenwald aptly notes.

Jacobs’ second assertion was that Assange said “there was no need for WikiLeaks to undertake a whistleblowing role in Russia because of the open and competitive debate he claimed exists there.”

Assange says that the reason they may expose less sensitive information from those countries is because Russian whistleblowers have superior options compared to WikiLeaks due to a language barrier (his organization is largely made up of English-speaking workers), and the fact that there are “vibrant publications” that criticize the Kremlin that are more localized and entrenched into Russian society.

“So my interpretation is that in Russia there are competitors to WikiLeaks, and no WikiLeaks staff speak Russian, so for a strong culture which has its own language, you have to be seen as a local player,” Assange said in the interview.

“What Assange is saying here is so obvious,” Greenwald bluntly recounts.

Jacobs also originally wrote the Dec. 24 piece that Assange “has long had a close relationship with the Putin regime.” But an official correction note at the bottom of the article says that as of Dec. 29, this sentence, along with another unfounded claim mentioned above, have since been removed.

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