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Back from the Holidays in the Land of the Shadows
The Guardian are so yesterday. They're gone. It's a hall of mirrors even if you don't see it.
Darkness still sets heavy in the northern hemisphere. They say it has something to do with the 'tilt' of the planet. Sort of like a pinball machine evidently.
But days are gradually growing longer. By the millimetre. And although things have been quiet for a while, they're starting to pick up again.
Julian Assange is back in court 11 January. He'll sport a nice suit and an ankle tag. He continues to visit his local constabulary every day. The fun never ends. Marianne Ny is still out for blood, Claes Borgström is still fighting for a political comeback, Anna Ardin is still berserk, and no one knows really what Sofia Wilén is up to - she's admirably silent as always. Like a true pro.
And now Sarah Ellison finally publishes an article. Heard the name before? No matter. It's an article for Vanity Fair originally planned as a study of Britain's curious 'Guardian' publishing empire. Then 'at the last minute' WikiLeaks got shoehorned into it. And it shows.
The Ellison/Vanity Fair article has all the hallmarks of what people have come to hate about the Yesterday Media: no research or due diligence, an arrogant attitude towards facts and the readership, and so forth. @joycelowenstein remarked in so many Twitter words that the good journo student would be held up for hours picking out all the errors. That's no exaggeration.
The brunt of the Ellison article that's really interesting is the description of the interplay between the Guardian and WikiLeaks, corroborating a growing suspicion those Guardian editors aren't as lily white as they wanted to appear. Many pundits seem to think the rift gaped wider after the Guardian's indiscretion in the Tsvangirai affair. They might be right.
What happened is that the Guardian released an embassy cable without proper vetting (or perhaps intentionally). WikiLeaks published the cable once the Guardian editors gave their go-ahead. But it turns out that several key tidbits should have been redacted by the Guardian and now Morgan Tsvangirai could be in deep trouble.
The Guardian tried to blame the whole thing on WikiLeaks but that didn't wash very well. Techdirt roundly pounced on the Guardian weasels for their cheap trick.
'It was the Guardian itself, who not only published the document prior to WikiLeaks, but also admits that it, not WikiLeaks or Assange, chose which cables to publish and when. It did alert WikiLeaks to what it was going to publish, but the release and publication of this document was done by the Guardian - the very same publication that Richardson then used to slam WikiLeaks for supposedly being the one to create the problems in Zimbabwe. Oops.'
So now they're cutting their losses. And this might all be the true cause of the current rift - or a major part of it - but that's getting ahead of this loverly holiday story.
Hell Hath No Fury Like a Nick Davies Scorned
Things started turning ugly back when Nick Davies of the Guardian published a carefully worded hit piece on WikiLeaks and Assange a mere few days after Assange won bail. The article's been savagely criticised but now thanks to research by former Rupert Murdoch reporter Sarah Ellison there's motive to the story.
It turns out that Nick Davies courted Julian Assange - he saw Assange and his WikiLeaks as a scoop. He spent considerable time trying to track down the elusive Assange - and then convinced him to collaborate with the Guardian.
The Guardian bled over £30 million per year for the past two years. Their hardcopy reputation is near bottom in the UK. Online they do a lot better - and have their best days ever thanks to WikiLeaks. But they've not been able to monetise the association.
Things were going well enough despite all until Nick Davies found out WikiLeaks had brought in Britain's Channel 4 for a release. Davies went ballistic in a Shakespearian way, hasn't spoken with Assange since, and seems to have been waiting for his chance to let blood.
What's worse is it turns out there are no better 'journalists' at the Guardian either - not even their editor Alan Rusbridger. Rusbridger tweeted of a coordinated WikiLeaks media blitz that it was a 'great moment in journalism' and completely missed the point. It was a great moment in WikiLeaks: WikiLeaks forced the big Yesterday Media companies to play fair and they're the ones - and not Rusbridger and his cohorts - who deserve the credit. That 'great moment in journalism' happened despite the Guardian, not because of it.
Rusbridger followed up the Davies hit piece with a cowardly op-ed that took his organisation to new lows. Davies wrote back that certain elements of WikiLeaks' agenda were 'head splitting', revealing more about his cerebral condition than anything about the whistleblower organisation. And so forth.
And then the much hyped Ellison/Vanity Fair article which was announced in advance and held in embargo at the website until 5 January. Playing the WikiLeaks game of 'maximum impact'. But it backfired.
The three stooges at the Guardian still don't know what hit them or why. It took a Jack Shafer to put it all in perspective. Shafer didn't waste time pouncing on Ellison's crappy journalism - he's already done the equivalent in other articles - but instead 'plowed the road'. And this is so good it has to be quoted in toto.
Davies' ire is only natural. All reporters become possessive of their sources. Even the most humble journalist will talk about his sources as if the individuals supplying information actually belong to him. These journalists grow furious when their sources work with other journalists. I've heard reporters speak with such intense pride about the sources they've cultivated that they make them sound like heirloom tomatoes that have been brought to vine-ripened perfection. More than anything, journalists expect a combination of trust and servility from their leakers.
Davies of the Guardian and others in the media seem to have misjudged Assange, thinking him just another source.
Assange's brinksmanship, his ability to pit the press against the press, and to bluff, bargain, and reset the terms of the deal, is unequaled in the history of journalism.
The Assange lesson is that if a source has the brains, the guts, and the leaks, he can take the driver's seat and tell reporters to ride in the trunk.
And there things would stand if it weren't for Israel Shamir of Counterpunch who got back in the game and put the final nails in the Guardian coffin.
Shamir's been the target of recent smear campaigns himself - something he deals with in typical clear logical fashion. Shamir points out that Rusbridger's already registered a title at Amazon about the 'rise and fall of WikiLeaks' and speculates they'll have to change the title to the 'rise and rise of WikiLeaks'. Or perhaps the 'rise and fall of the Guardian under the three stooges'.
Shamir points out that time and again Rusbridger and his orcs have deliberately misled their readership with sensationalist (and grossly inaccurate) headlines - and then tried to blame it all on their 'big scoop'.
But Rusbridger and his fellow stooges don't get it. They never got it. People don't share his concern for economic survival. They simply want the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
The people will make sure WikiLeaks will survive. They don't give a hoot for the Yesterday Media journalists at the Guardian.
Happy New Year.
Counterpunch: The Secrets of WikiLeaks
Slate: The 1,000 Faces of Julian Assange
Jack Shafer: Numbers Are Hard to Come By
WikiLeaks Bulldogs: Wikileaking Nick Davies
Rixstep Industry Watch: Nick Davies' Deep Throat
Rixstep Learning Curve: Open Letter to the Three Stooges
Reuters: FACTBOX - Key political risks to watch in Zimbabwe
Rixstep Red Hat Diaries: Deconstructing Davies II - Naomi Wolf
Techdirt: Debunking the 'WikiLeaks Puts Lives In Danger In Zimbabwe' Myth