Two Sides of the Same Coin?

What’s the difference between WikiLeaks and the News of the World? More than meets the eye, according to Michael Fullilove, director of the Global Issues Program at the Lowy Institute for International Policy. In an Atlantic opinion piece entitled ‘The News of the WikiLeaks: Both Share a Dangerous Rationale’, Fullilove has found all kinds of connections between the two.

“Both,” he writes, “adhere to the same dangerous rationale, that no one is entitled to confidential information. As Assange said in April: "The government doesn’t have a right to secrets.” But would the world be safer or saner if governments could not hold confidences? How could wars be averted in such a world? How could peace agreements or trade deals be negotiated?

“Both hacks and hackers eschew the balancing of competing imperatives: the tabloids in the pursuit of profit; Assange in the pursuit of an ideology.

“Both institutions are blasé about breaking laws to obtain information they say we all have a right to see.

“Both are willing to play God. There is no human frailty or weakness the tabloids are not prepared to expose and judge. Rarely do they show mercy or compassion. Assange has his own capricious ethical code, which he summarized last November: ‘I like crushing bastards.’

“Both exhibit the same reckless disregard for the innocent victims of their actions. Tabloid editors are prepared to ruin bystanders for the sake of a scoop. In his early reluctance to sift through and redact the cables he had acquired on Afghanistan, Julian Assange was wilfully blind to the fate of Afghanis who had assisted the NATO forces. According to journalists from the Guardian, when they pressed him on this issue he replied: ‘These people were collaborators, informants. They deserve to die.’”

The Wheeler Centre is hosting a Talking Point event, ‘Taking Liberties with the Press’, tomorrow night at 6:15pm. Panellists will be Margaret Simons, Mark Day and Professor Rod Tiffen; the event will be chaired by Richard Ackland.

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