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Ungood: Anatomy of a Smear

Rupert's Rottweiler Jon Ungoed-Thomas takes on Julian Assange but falls flat.


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'Jon Ungoed-Thomas': how do you say that?

'Jon Thomas' is easy. Everybody knows what a 'Jon Thomas' is. But 'Ungoed'?

It could be pronounced 'ungood', meaning someone who is not good. That's close. Or it could be pronounced 'ungod' as in someone who should never presume deity status. That fits pretty goed too. Or it could be the Swenglish version of 'ungödd' as in someone - as with chickens - who is deliberately not fed and ripened for a date with the slaughterhouse.

They're all applicable.

So who is Jon Ungoed-Thomas? He's a writer works for Rupert Murdoch who's achieved notoriety over the years. With a less than sophisticated combination of ignorance, arrogance, and smear. He attacked Bradley Manning not too long ago only to find things like that incur the wrath of the InterWebs. Today (tomorrow in some places) he's now gone after Julian Assange.

Bad move.

But why slaughter Ungood? To refute every silly claim he makes both directly and indirectly? Of course not. Scurvy journos are doing this all the time. Nobody really cares what they're up to.

No - it's because Ungood's such an easy target - and because a deconstruction can serve to demonstrate exactly how these 'contract character assassinations' are constructed.

Looking back over Ungood's piece readers can be excused for feeling a bit perplexed. This happens quite often when reading the drivel of the Old Media. Those poor gits have been roundly shamed in recent years, exposed for being the lapdogs not only of their employers but also of the governments and powers they're supposed to investigate. Jonathan Cook's recent article on the calculated strategy of the Guardian in quelling free speech comes to mind.

But Ungood doesn't have to pose as a liberal or a fighter for justice. He's simply a Rottweiler in the employ of Rupert Murdoch's News International. A Rottweiler with the bite of a poodle.

Again the Ungood piece, of course adorned with a candid shot of an unshaven Assange. Don't make Assange look good - the way the fanciers see him - whatever you do. And the gist of the article is to report on why so many people have turned against Assange who was TIME's readers choice, Le Monde's person of the year, recipient of the Martha Gellhorn Prize, the Economist's Freedom of Expression Award, the Amnesty International UK Media Award, the Sam Adams Award, the Sydney Peace Foundation Gold Medal - about every award possible save the Nobel Peace Prize (and that may be next).

This guy's going down the drain? Gandhi knows exactly how it feels. Ungoods attacked him too.

Anatomy of a Smear

Watch out for bumps in the road. For here we go.

'Come celebrate with the most dangerous man in the world.'

Right. That was on the b-day party invitations. Tongue in cheek. Ungood wants to twist that of course and adds:

'Among those willing to risk such peril were Jemima Khan and the designer Vivienne Westwood.'

Wow. Peril? Risks? Ungood's off to the races.

'The adulation has gone into reverse, especially among some of those who have worked closely with the mercurial founder of WikiLeaks.'

O RLY? And who might they be? Stay tuned, dear reader, for you're about to find out.

'Assange has fallen out with his lawyers, collaborators, staff and some former supporters, who complain of his monstrous ego, chauvinism towards women and meagre gratitude to those who worked hard for WikiLeaks' success.'

Wow. OK point at a time.

  1. The lawyers. This pertains to Mark Stephens who initially promised 'pro bono' support and then started to pad expense reports. Jennifer Robinson did most of the work for Julian and she's still a big fan. No falling out there whatsoever.

  2. Collaborators. Sorry - but which collaborators? WikiLeaks has upwards of 90 (ninety) happy camper media partners today. As it's explained nowhere, we can comfortably dismiss it as part of a clumsy smear.

  3. Staff. Pure bollocks. WikiLeaks has if anything achieved more stability and solidarity now that the 'bad eggs' (Ball, Brooke, Domsheit-Berg) are long gone. This is the kind of smooth operation the organisation always needed. And thanks to the departure of the above trio, they have it. Another stupid smear.

  4. Former supporters. Again: who? There are none. The popularity of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange only grows. Look at the worldwide boycott on #Canongate this past week. WikiLeaks and Julian Assange have more support than ever - that's probably one of the reasons Rupert hit the panic button and called on his attack dog Ungood.

  5. Chauvinism towards women. Oh please. Where? Are we speaking of the preposterous allegations against Assange in Sweden by the rabid feminist mafia who believe all women should have penises but all men should be castrated or 'cut up' into small pieces and killed? No worries about character for Julian Assange there. The very fact they hate him is only to his credit. And for the record: everything points to Julian Assange being more than a perfect gentleman with women - something that can be a weakness given the bizarre situation in Sweden. But Julian doesn't seem interested in changing that code of honour, no matter how much they mistreat him.

In fact Julian Assange is probably the one person in the world who can never be accused of being a hypocrite: he flies by his own moral compass, the same guide he's had all these years, an impeccable guide through a truly fantastic journey.

'The arch-leaker has had his life leaked.'

Makes Ungood feel anything but ungood to write that but unfortunately it's not true. Julian's ghostwriter didn't smear him nor was he trying to. The Old Media were going to do that anyway. Julian's objection wasn't to the actual content but to the project mission - he wanted less 'Leberkäse' and more 'manifesto' in his book. But Jamie Byng at Canongate never let him get around to that. All they'd finished was the first round of writing. Byng however was in a hurry because he'd overextended himself, done a number of acquisitions in 2010 and 2011 and was short on cash. He sold the rights to Julian's book to 38 countries and his customers were getting antsy. Byng initially promised Julian the time to get things right - with a release planned for early 2012 - and then found he couldn't make it. Thus the double cross. But it didn't help as the 'book' is universally castigated with UK shops selling less than one copy per outlet per day so far.

'charges of sexual assault'

The word 'assault' is never used in the strange case documentation by Marianne Ny. And Julian isn't charged either - he's 'wanted for questioning'. In matters ranging from 'sexual molestation' (he didn't get his arms out of the way fast enough) to 'minor rape' (he left his mind-reading kit at the hotel). The word 'assault' is never used and the epithet 'charges' is deliberately incorrect.

'The publisher Canongate, facing huge losses on the project, decided to proceed without his approval.'

Nothing wrong there at all. That's one of two sentences in the entire sordid piece without slur or slant.

'The book, written from interviews with him, reveals an extraordinary character, both inspiring and deeply flawed, who turns on those who fail to see things his way.'

We're all flawed. Let Ungood cast the first stone. The fact remains Julian Assange chose to reveal this information - which is more than an Ungood would ever do.

'He calls one of his key aides tremendously obnoxious.'

Ungood's read the book? Perhaps Rupert paid for the book? Anything to keep the Old Media alive! But who's obnoxious? The only thing comes to mind - and it could be wrong - is Daniel Domscheit-Berg. And in such case DDB should be glad harsher words weren't used. Or a criminal complaint filed.

'describes the former editor of the New York Times, which collaborated with WikiLeaks in publishing the secret government documents, as a moral pygmy'

We're talking about Bill Killer here. The war criminal who put Judith Miller in the Göbbels seat to whip up the US frenzy for the war with Iraq, and do it all with lies. Who later attacked Colin Powell for using his head when everyone else went nuts like Killer wanted, for attacking Wolfowitz for being mild on the Iraqis, and so forth. Lots of medals on Killer's chest.

We've all seen what actually took place in Iraq - thanks to Julian Assange - and we've also seen how Killer and his friends went after Valerie Plame and her husband. Even Josef G himself was never so brazen. To call a war criminal like Killer a 'moral pygmy' truly lets him off easy. Killer has more blood on his hands than most.

'Staff at Britain's Guardian, which also helped WikiLeaks, are lambasted as lily-livered gits hiding in their glass offices.'

This is the second sentence without slur or slant.

'His supporters say the book records a campaigner for openness who has had an impact on world affairs.'

It doesn't matter what the book says. History talks here. Have Julian Assange and his WikiLeaks had an impact on world affairs? Take your time.

'I am often called arrogant, and I suppose I must be.'

That's Julian Assange talking. He's called arrogant by the Old Media jackals sent forth to shoot the messenger and bury the message. But maybe he is arrogant! Aren't we all at times? At least Julian opens the matter to discussion - the Ungoods of the world would look down their noses and sneer at you for making the suggestion.

'Heather Brooke...'

Right there one's almost forced to stop. Especially if one be a vegetarian. But pushing on.

'Heather Brooke, the FOI campaigner and author of The Revolution Will Be Digitised, is one of those to have fallen out with Assange.'

To paraphrase Ross Geller: 'Who ever heard of Heather Brooke falling in with Assange?'

Brooke has the singular distinction of demonstrating early on that she's an Old Media journalist happily void of ethics: she parlayed with David Leigh for a position at the Guardian in exchange for a stray copy of Cablegate she'd come across. And she never tried to do right by the material: she exploited it in a purely selfish unethical way as befits a member of the Old Media.

Heather Brooke also has a wildly inflated opinion of herself, a trait not uncommon in girls who aren't quite sexy but are desperate to believe they are - they turn their immature insecurities on the people around them.

'He is initially inspirational, but is an impossible human being.'

Heather's words. Why is he impossible, Heather? How do the people who work and live with him 24/7 and have been doing so for a year - how do they cope? Or are you still miffed that he didn't make a real pass at you?

'He can't sustain a relationship for any period of time.'

Heather again. He never wanted a relationship with you, Heather. Any relationship you thought you had with Julian - it was all in your head. Not many men find you attractive, Heather. Move on. You're married anyhow, as you like to point out incessantly.

And what does that have to do with whistle-blowing anyway? Where's the message?

'He has driven so many people away that he doesn't have anyone sensible advising him any more and he's making these terrible decisions.'

Heather yet again. She turned into the #1 source for this weak article. Surprise. Perhaps she's disappointed in the poor sales of her own book. Heaven knows she's been trying hard enough (and failing). But that's the way it goes. And again: name someone who's been driven away - and don't say James Ball, your apprentice sibling at the Guardian. There'll be reason to return to that creep shortly.

'She too found his approach to women deeply uncomfortable.'

Ungood speaking of Heather again. What they really mean is 'Heather wanted to get affirmation from the world's coolest guy that she was one hot piece of arse (which she is not) and she's pissed he didn't take her mediocre charms seriously'. And this then is her charming revenge. Anna Ardin? Sofia Wilén? Meet Heather Brooke. You girls should talk.

'When Assange was accused of rape and molestation in Sweden in August last year... many felt he should step aside from the organisation while he fought the allegations.'

Yes. There were two. Only one of which was a member of the organisation. The second generation of WikiLeakers - Kristinn, Ingi, Sarah, Jo, et al - were already on board and none of them seem to have considered it a good idea. Staff at WikiLeaks have only grown in number according to Kristinn and none of them seem to think it's a good idea even today, whilst Kristinn and Jo and Sarah regularly accompany their good friend Julian to court and elsewhere - in fact it's only the somewhat flaky Birgitta and the totally disgraced DDB who suggested such a thing.

But remember how they did it! Birgitta gave the Daily Beast their saucy hit piece, then hid away in the Orient for a fortnight, then on her return promised she'd get around to correcting the damage in 'due time' (something that never happened).

DDB was never so civil - he went straight for WikiLeaks' jugular. And has been rightly destroyed because of it. Birgitta and Daniel - with friends like that one doesn't need enemies. And the fact they're gone only points to the slurs they tried being apocryphal and meaningless.

'Assange refused and even wanted some of the WikiLeaks donations to fund his campaign. Some WikiLeaks activists, including one of the key members of the organisation, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, claimed Assange used to boast about how many children he had fathered across the world. Domscheit-Berg left in disgust.'

Oh wow. Here is where Ungood stops caring about ethics. Domscheit-Berg left because he'd been caught out sabotaging the WikiLeaks mail server whilst on suspension for sabotaging the WikiLeaks online network three weeks earlier. End of story. What Ungood is trying to connect here doesn't connect. And for this alone his article should be taken down and Rupert should issue a retraction.

'Even journalists with whom Assange chose to collaborate in publishing secret documents fell foul of his ego if they voiced any criticism of him. The book reveals how enraged he became when the New York Times, which had published documents from WikiLeaks, subsequently printed an unflattering article about him, written by then editor Bill Keller.'

That's one 'journalist', Ungood. And judging from Killer's subsequent fiasco as a writer for his own rag, not much of a journalist at that. But whatever: that's one journalist, Ungood. Where are the others? Oops!

'The article was less than generous about Assange's achievements and questioned his personal hygiene.'

Oh that'll do it every time. Do we need a clearer example of 'shoot the messenger'?

'They were looking to themselves, their positions, their later careers, and while this is all very human, it got in the way of our work.'

That's Ungood quoting the book. A passage Ungood describes as lacking in tact and discretion. It's here we see the chasm between the jackals of the Old Media and the new guard represented by WikiLeaks: Ungood would never call out a colleague for unethical behaviour - he much prefers kissing arse.

'He was incensed that the Guardian had provided a copy of the leaked diplomatic cables to the New York Times without his permission.'

This is an accusation? Does Ungood really understand what he's saying? Or is Ungood so inculcated in the ways of the Jackal Media that he too believes there's no reason for honour amongst criminals?

Alan Rusbridger gave his solemn word in writing. He wrote it and dated it on official Guardian stationery.

'My respect for the man plummeted to nothing.'

That's Ungood quoting Julian after he realised Leigh was set to double cross him for the first time. Why Ungood thinks that's bad is not explained. Perhaps Ungood thinks it's naive of Julian to not understand everyone's a crook in the news business and admire them for their lack of ethics.

'Assange wanted WikiLeaks activists to sign a confidentiality agreement because of his fear of leaks.'

Ah yes. About time it came up. An NDA. A confidentiality agreement. And the reason was Julian had found out that David Leigh's lapdog James Ball had been sneaking information out to the Guardian in exchange for the promise of a future job. It's not certain Ball would ever have got that position otherwise. But Julian had the wee eunuch up against the wall. Ball's NDA was backdated seven months - about as long as Julian knew Ball had been playing a double game. Had Ball signed that NDA, he'd have been criminally and civilly liable and he knew it. He had to walk. Leigh almost had to take him in. And Julian was rid his final rotten egg.

Ungood also wants to deliberately confuse the right to privacy with the need for transparency, the same way that Murdoch attack dog David Aaronovitch tried to do one year ago at the Index on Censorship. The Old Media don't care about the ethics of the situation and they certainly don't see journalism as a means to an end - the purpose of everything is to bolster their own careers. Journalism exists not for the common good but for its own sake. And in that rarified world you can make up your own rules.

'He claimed there was a conspiracy by some journalists - all of whom are Jewish.'

Actually that was the first smear campaign Leigh called on Ball to engineer once the latter had moved from WikiLeaks. The entire 'antisemite' thing seems to have been Ball's doing at Leigh's behest. It started there with Ball and it died there as well. Save for a brief desperate effort by Leigh to deflect scorn for what he did with Cablegate.

'The desertions of Domscheit-Berg and others have badly damaged the organisation.'

Once again for the congenitally retarded:

  • Domscheit-Berg is the only one. There are no others.

  • Domscheit-Berg did not 'desert'. He just didn't dare come back after he was found out to be engaging in repeated acts of sabotage.

And for the record: remember why WikiLeaks couldn't mention this for an entire year: Domscheit-Berg was blackmailing Julian Assange - he'd threatened to expose all the whistleblowers in the WikiLeaks submissions files if Julian filed criminal charges.

We all remember who Domscheit-Berg is. We'd like to forget but it's still a bit early for that. So Jon Ungood Thomas is not going to trip us up on such a triviality.

'Would-be whistleblowers are also unlikely to be encouraged by the fact that his best ever source Bradley Manning is in jail awaiting a court martial.'

Below the belt. Really.

Bradley Manning is not a WikiLeaks source. There's been an allegation but the technical aspect of the WikiLeaks submission system means no one will ever know. By the same token: no one is a WikiLeaks source. As they can't be identified. (Save one. And he's a banker. And he's not Bradley Manning. And he expressly chose to be identified.)

'He must be getting sick to death at the sight of him.'

This supposedly a quote from an associate of Assange's who breaks ranks to speak with the infected Ungood. Why? This is supposedly a description of Vaughan's relationship with Julian. Or rather the entire WikiLeaks crew. Who evidently come and go all the time at Ellingham. And pay for the privilege.

There's hardly a doubt the whole thing has been very trying on everyone. Vaughan Smith and his wife and children as well. They seem to have an expansive house, Julian is confined to one corner of the mansion, he also pitches in with work about the grounds, and he pays rent as well. But it's trying. No one doubts that.

But to claim Vaughan Smith admitted something directly or indirectly to the likes of Jon Ungood Thomas, precisely the type of despicable jackal Vaughan has shown he despises, is a faux pas Rupert will have wished he could have prevented.

Ungood can't support his contracted hit piece. Perhaps he's colossally ignorant. Certainly he's biased against Julian and WikiLeaks and has every reason to be so: the new journalism has replaced the Old Media. 'Jon Thomas' is going to be out of a job and he knows it.

But it's not ignorance. It's certainly a cavalier attitude towards fact-checking. But that's not new with the Old Media. They were never keen on fact-checking. But it's more still.

Ungood's gambling you won't fact-check either. He's gambling he can lure opinion of the unwashed masses away from Assange/WikiLeaks and back towards Old Media control and Oceania oppression again.

But the unwashed masses have already proved him wrong.

Postscript: Ungood & Bradley Manning

This wasn't Ungood's first foray into smear. He's been doing this throughout his career, most notably against Bradley Manning. That red card foul didn't settle well with the unwashed masses either. Austin Mackell wrote of that crime:

Jon Ungoed-Thomas's daddy didn't love him and he has insecurity issues about it. He was also unpopular in high-school and, some speculate, suffered from terrible acne and premature ejaculation.

This is why he smears great men like the imprisoned whistleblower Private First Class Bradley Manning, who is facing decades in prison for acting on his conscience. It's all projection of his own issues and his burning desire to seem to have relevant opinions on world issues.

He claims his journalistic ambition comes from an intellectual disposition and a naturally curious nature, but it's really because he's got a little dick.

How, having never met the man, do I know this?

Of course I don't know it. I'm just saying it to hurt his credibility. Because that's what Mr Ungoed-Thomas did to Pvt Manning for today's edition of The Australian (the editor of which, Chris Mitchell, only published it because he's got abandonment issues).

When moral midgets pretend to understand men of substance, they need telling to go fuck themselves.

Postscript: Ungood & Tom Watson

British MP Tom Watson isn't too happy with Ungood either (but not too worried as Ungood is evidently known to be a clod). Ungood made up an entire story about the minister of Parliament and had it tossed back straight in his face. Oops.

This reference to me in this Sunday Times story by a Jon Ungoed-Thomas is just made up. He didn't even bother to check his facts with me. Pathetic but sadly not surprising any more.

UPDATE: This comment has been left on my Facebook site by a member of the parliamentary press gallery:

'Given it was a non-sitting Friday at Westminster and I know you were seen leaving for the constituency on Thursday evening by a News International hack, we can safely assume the story about you in the Sunday Times was indeed made up!'

Malcolm Redfellow comments on the Watson smear.

Some pieces are so good they should not linger behind Mr Murdoch's paywalls. Then on the other hand there's the following farrago by Jon[athon] Ungoed-Thomas...

'Farrago' is defined by Wiktionary as 'a collection containing a confused variety of miscellaneous things'.

That seems to sum up Ungood's 'craft' nicely.

A late night pub session might descend into slurred speculation over who would win a fight between a shark and a polar bear. Parliamentary bruiser Tom Watson versus Ungoed-Thomas? That's Rottweiler versus sausage roll.
 - Malcolm Redfellow
You Jon Ungoed-Thomas are a poor journalist, an idiot, a moral midget.
 - Austin Mackell

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