October 24, 2016

One of the biggest story that the mainstream media seems unable to get their head around is how Wikileaks has morphed from a whistle blowing organization to a useful tool of Vladimir Putin and his desire to manipulate our elections.

Think about that: the despotic leader of another country is trying to exert influence on our elections and the best our mainstream media can really do is ask if it's true that Clinton campaigners said not nice things about various people.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but WTF?

It's hard to unpack all of the frustrations I feel George Stephanopoulos' lame questioning of strategist Joel Benenson of Hillary for America. First and foremost, it's that he takes these emails at face value, even though intelligence agencies have said that there are signs that Russian hackers altered the emails before giving them to Wikileaks. So why exactly is Stephanopoulos asking about them as if they've been authenticated?

Let's also be clear: John Podesta, despite being the campaign manager for Hillary Clinton, is a private citizen. He is NOT a public servant. Neither is the DNC a government agency. Remember when we Americans were horrified by the slippery slope of not being able to have an expectation of privacy? It is clear that for the mainstream media, the "Clinton Rules of Reporting" override an concerns about a foreign entity breaking laws and hacking into private emails.

And what did he get? There's really no there there, in terms of scandals. It's campaign strategists...wait for it....strategizing. The horror! There's nothing illegal about receiving campaign donations from lobbyists, even if one of their clients is a foreign entity. Yes, I get that it's icky and the appearance definitely gets into some murky waters. All stipulated. But also these strategists were clear they weren't breaking the law and even with the Clinton Rules of Reporting notwithstanding, Hillary Clinton wasn't involved in this conversation. But there's a critical aspect that George Stephanopoulos ignored in ven asking the question: NO ONE HAS CONFIRMED THE AUTHENTICITY OF ANY OF THE EMAILS.

So tell me, Stephanopoulos, what exactly is your responsibility as a journalist? Is it to legitimize an increasingly erratic Julian Assange?

These days, WikiLeaks routinely publishes information without redaction, and seemingly with only minimal pre-vetting. This is merely a change in expediency: there are no longer newspaper partners to keep onside. The results are a partial vindication for both sides – while it’s hard to dispute some of WikiLeaks’ publication of private data has been needlessly reckless and invasive, there remains no evidence of any direct harm coming to someone as a result of a WikiLeaks release.

Conversely, Assange often trusts strangers more than those he knows well: he dislikes taking advice, he dislikes anyone else having a power base, and he dislikes being challenged – especially by women. He runs his own show, his own way, and won’t take advice. He’s happy to play on the conspiratorial urges of others, with little sign as to whether or not he believes them himself.

Is it to enable Vladimir Putin's power hungry drive to put his "puppet" in the White House?

Is it to feed more distrust into our elections? Our institutions?

The Fourth Estate has a responsibility to hold politicians accountable. But is that what this is?

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