Media Freedom? Show me the MSM Journalist Opposing the Torture of Assange 141

Today, the corporate media that cried “Media freedom” when Extinction Rebellion blocked the billionaire owned propaganda presses, is silent as Julian Assange’s Calvary for bringing real truth unfiltered to the public moves on to its next station; the macabre Gothic architecture of the Old Bailey.

The Tories appeared remarkably tolerant in the days when Extinction Rebellion were causing general disruption to the public. But to threaten the interests of billionaire paymasters is something against which the entire political class will unite. At a time when the government is mooting designating Extinction Rebellion as Serious Organised Crime, right wing bequiffed muppet Keir Starmer was piously condemning the group, stating: “The free press is the cornerstone of democracy and we must do all we can to protect it.”

It is surely time we stopped talking about “free press”, as if it was Thomas Paine or William Cobbett distributing pamphlets. Print media is now the subject of phenomenonal ownership concentration. It broadcasts the propaganda of some very nasty billionaires to a shrinking audience of mostly old people. The same ownerships have of course moved in to TV and Radio and increasingly into new media, and have a political stranglehold over those who control state media. At the same time, the corporate gatekeepers of Facebook and Twitter purposefully strangle the flow of readers to independent online media. The idea of a “free press” as an open marketplace of democratic ideas has no real meaning in modern society, until anti-monopoly action is taken. Which is the last thing those in power will do.

Quite the opposite, they are actively seeking to eliminate dissent even from the internet.

I do not want permanently to close down the Sun or the Telegraph; neither do Extinction Rebellion. But their excellent action is an important opening to the debate about controlled public narrative, not least on climate change. The highly paid stenographers to power have been quick to protest. Murdoch mouthpiece David Aaronovitch tweeted out that in fact 99% of the time there was no editorial interference from Murdoch. But that is the point. Murdoch employs reliable right wingers like Aaronovitch; he does not need to tell them what to write.

Show me the Murdoch journalist who has more than once published about the human rights abuses against the Palestinians. Murdoch ejected his own son from his media empire because James was insufficiently enthusiastic about the slow genocide of the Palestinians, and does not believe that the market will magically fix climate change.

The corporate media selects its mouthpieces. Scotland has become an extreme example, where 55% of the population support Independence, but only about 5% of state and corporate media “journalists” support Independence.

Julian Assange has been a light in this darkness. Wikileaks have opened a window into the secret world of war crime, murder and corruption that underlies so much of the governance we live under throughout the “free” world. Coming in the wake of the public realisation that we had been blatantly lied into the destruction of Iraq, there was a time when it seemed Assange would lead us into a new age where whistleblowers, citizen journalists and a democratic internet would revolutionise public information, with the billionaire stranglehold shattered.

That seems less hopeful today, as the internet world itself corporatised. Julian is in jail and continuing today is an extradition hearing that has been one long abuse of process. The appalling conditions of solitary confinement in which he has been kept in the high security Belmarsh Prison, with no access to his legal team or a working computer, to his papers or to his mail, have taken a huge toll on his physical and mental health. The UN Special Representative has declared he is subject to torture. A media which is up in arms about the very dubious attack on Navalny, has no emotion for state torture victim Assange other than contempt.

It is constantly asked by Julian’s supporters why the media do not see the assault on a publisher and journalist as a threat to themselves. The answer is that the state and corporate media are confident in their firm alliance with the powers that be. They have no intention of challenging the status quo; their protection from those kicking Assange lies in joining in with the kicking.

I hope to be in court today, and throughout the extradition hearing. The public gallery of 80 has been reduced to 9 “due to Covid”. 5 seats are reserved for Julian’s family and friends, and I have one of these today, but not guaranteed beyond that. There are just 4 seats for the general public.

Journalists and NGO’s will be following the hearing online – but only “approved” journalists and NGO’s, selected by the Orwelian Ministry of Justice. I had dinner last night with Assange supporters from a number of registered NGO’s, not one of which had been “approved”. I had applied myself as a representative of Hope Over Fear, and was turned down. It is the same story for those who applied for online access as journalists. Only the officially “approved” will be allowed to watch.

This is supposed to be a public hearing, to which in normal times anybody should be able to walk in off the street into the large public gallery, and anyone with a press card into the press gallery. What is the justification for the political selection of those permitted to watch? An extraordinary online system has been set up, with the state favoured observers given online “rooms” in which only the identified individual will be allowed. Even with approved organisations, it is not the case that an organisation will have a login anyone can use, not even one at a time. Only specifically nominated individuals have to login before proceedings start, and if their connection breaks at any point they will not be readmitted that day.

Given these restrictions, I was very conscious I may need to queue from 5am tomorrow, to get one of the 4 public places, if I drop off the family list. So I went this morning at 6am to the Old Bailey to check out the queue and work out the system. The first six people in the queue were all people who, entirely off their own bat, without my knowledge and with no coordination between them, had arrived while London slept just to reserve a place for me. I was swept up by their goodness, their trust in me and by their sheer humanitarian concern about Julian and the whole miscarriage of justice. I chatted cheerily with them for a while, then came back to write this, but just got round the corner when I burst into floods of tears, overwhelmed by all this kindness.

I have to pull myself together now and get into that court.


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141 thoughts on “Media Freedom? Show me the MSM Journalist Opposing the Torture of Assange

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  • Mr. Obvious

    There are two queen bees in the American hive – Obama and Trump – which is why the hive has been ripping in two.

    Trump wants Assange to disprove RussiaGate – to reverse perceptions of his legacy.

    Obama wants Assange to intimidate security state dissenters – to preserve his legacy.

    Examine the tactics:

    e.g. Superseding indictment -> Cannot reintroduce evidence -> Rig the outcome.

    This tactic requires cooperation from security state outposts in foreign countries such as the UK.

    Trump doesn’t have control over these outposts as evidenced by their media coverage of his administration.

    When a hive rips in two, one queen keeps the hive while the other looks for a new home.

    It would be best for the world if Obama and his drones were to flee the hive and all of its outposts.

    Humanity doesn’t need the high-tech, super-ego scrambling, lying and spying structure, Obama’s administration built.

  • Mistral

    “right wing bequiffed muppet Keir Starmer” Now, that’s funny.

    People talk about freedom like it exists and if not it should. Journalists are jailed or killed if they have the audacity to bring a scoop. Julian Assange, Daphne Galizia. You can talk about some woman in Easterhouse fiddling benefits and plaster the photo around the world but not a scoop that shows the peasants how the grunting toff is screwing them over and the twisted and despicable way they did it. The system is not broken…it was simply designed that way and of course they know what they are doing, they are no fools.

  • Jayhanno

    “A media which is up in arms about the very dubious attack on Navalny, has no emotion for state torture victim Assange other than contempt. “

    While it remains possible, that Navalny was poisoned by non direct state actors, this sentence still makes sense and you are absolutely right! The means are different here a “very dubious” attack with poison, there 10 years of “imprisonment”. It doesn’t really matter which method is used, the result is quite similar.

    • Marmite

      Not sure about that. In the case of Assange, the killing is just dragged for ten years by something called psychological torture, so one view would be that this is ten times more heinous, and thus indicative of a state that is ten times more savage.

  • Geoff Reynolds

    I am quite surprised that all the bastions of our non elected monarchy are raised to the ground by a public sick and tired of being lied to on a regular basis…..

    Every piece of this vile ogre should be removed and the seeds of a new confidence planted to bring back the light and love that we propagated.

    Your tears, my friend, are the very things that keep you going………………your inspiration to find the truth…

    The Old Bailey just a comical backdrop to a politicised lynching of somebody who dared to investigate the evil machinery behind the scenes.

    Give my love to Julian for he is a shining light in the darkness bestowed on the 99%.

    • wonky

      As long as the military and the police continue their corrupt slumber and remain under the illusion that they are somehow above the mentioned 99%, things will continue to spiral downhill. It is their thick skulls we need to work on, with urgency and the better argument.
      The fat lady hasn’t sung quite yet.

  • ET

    Of particular concern is the spread of disinformation in public communications arising not merely from negligence or incompetence. Agencies with resources to pursue particular agendas can engage in various strategic communications aimed at influencing the public into accepting beliefs that would, with the exercise of free intelligence, be more critically scrutinised.

    From a short article by Tim Hayward in July:
    I particularly liked the phraseology he used in his description of how our “free press” functions quoted above.
    Thank you Craig for using your formidable free intelligence to critically scrutinise Assange’s case for us.

  • Tom74

    Yes, quite, Craig. It has become very clear to many of us that the ‘free press’ in this country is a very carefully crafted illusion, where they pretend to be at loggerheads and/or in fierce competition, while actually faithfully peddling different elements of the same propaganda. The Iraq War, Corbyn’s Labour and the coronavirus have been classic examples of this, where different readerships are persuaded or threatened with different lines of argument that achieve the same objective. It is quite expertly done, to the extent that the perpetual fake row between the BBC and the government of the day had me fooled until well into middle age. In a similar vein, the sniping between the right-wing tabloids with the allegedly left-wing Guardian is clearly fake, to give credibility to both sides.
    As to Extinction Rebellion, I have to say, I disagree. I very much doubt they are a genuine grassroots movement. Remember how, of all people to target, they chose to picket Corbyn’s house in one of their protests? My guess is they are being used by the state in these newspaper blockades to create the impression of ‘an enemy within’ and perhaps as a way to mobilise people to fight for the ‘free press’ (ho, ho).

    • portside

      XR affect to be anti-politics but the only ideology they have explicitly disavowed is socialism.

      • Marmite

        This is so ridiculous. I too think that this disavowal is idiotic, but it has to be seen in context. Britain is hard-core right-wing at the moment, and so is a significant chunk of the public, as ashamed as one might be to admit that. To affiliate oneself with one ideology or another is usually suicide by a thousand cuts for a movement of any kind in the best of times. In the worst of times, which is what we have right now, this is suicide by steamroller. Now add to that the fact that the average person has suffered from the bad education in this country that ‘socialism’ is the work of the devil, and see what you have. It should not take much reflection to understand why any movement of this kind would seek to distance itself from socialism. Disagree with them all you like on that matter, as do I, but to discredit them is just nonsense, unless you are doing so simply as a cover for pushing the climate-change-denial agenda.

        Anyway, what I came here to say is that it was edifying to see the sign in the background in this Guardian article:

        • Marmite

          Edifying in the sense that The Guardian was not afraid to publish it, in spite of all its other sins. Obviously not edifying that this torture could happen in a country that likes to present itself as a moral compass on the international stage.

    • Nigel Stapley

      “…where different readerships are persuaded or threatened with different lines of argument that achieve the same objective.”

      The journalist Alan Brien described how he was sued by Beaverbrook because Brien had (correctly) stated that Beaverbrook owned a number of newspapers (all peddling the same line on events from superficially different directions) in order that historians of the future, looking at the same story from a variety of apparently disparate sources, would conclude that things were the way Beaverbrook wanted them to appear to be.

      (In front of a parliamentary committee some years before, when asked what he run his newspapers for, Beaverbrook had replied, “Personal propaganda”)

      Brien was only saved from penury by the fact that Beaverbrook dropped dead before he could bring his case to court.

    • nevermind

      a group is autonomous in their action within XR, as long as its non violent, Tom 74. Even if some organiser disagreed with it they were free to act.
      XR are very much local and cooperating with a plethora of actors and thinkers such as Rupert Read.

      just to correct you on that point.

    • On the train

      Yes I would too. What a wonderful thing to have done. Thankyou. And Good Luck Craig and thank you too. You are a hero. Good luck and prayers for Julian too, that goes without saying. This trial has been on my mind all day.

    • A father and a son

      Moist eyes indeed. When I read “The first six people in the queue were all people who, entirely off their own bat, without my knowledge and with no coordination between them, had arrived while London slept just to reserve a place for me.” the exclamation “What!” leapt from my mouth.

      What amazes me was that all six had stayed. Surely 3 would have been enough. This attests to the ‘lack of coordination’. It also attests to the people’s desire for independent news not produced by the stenographers of power that work for the major media organisations.

      I salute the six and join them in their support for independent journalism.

      Just as Julian Assange has done, you Craig, are providing us with real information. I thank you both.

  • Harry Law

    Craig….. “But that is the point. Murdoch employs reliable right wingers like Aaronovitch; he does not need to tell them what to write”.

    Andrew Marr interview with Noam Chomsky…

    Marr: “How can you know that I’m self-censoring? How can you know that journalists are..”

    Chomsky: “I’m not saying your self censoring. I’m sure you believe everything you’re saying. But what I’m saying is that if you believe something different, you wouldn’t be sitting where you’re sitting.”

    • Humph

      Carrots, your examples prove Craig’s point. Peter Oborne no longer works for a main-stream media outlet. Alan Rusbridger is the retired editor in chief of the Guardian. The Guardian was once supportive of Assange before attacking him and making false allegations about him. Counterpunch is an alternative outlet.

      • Carrots

        Come on Humph… how many MSM figures of the rank of editor in chief of the Guardian and chief political commentators of The Daily Telegraph are there/have there been? These are two *senior* MSM figures in a small pool. Andrew Fowler is a former reporter for the ABC – he’s also got a Guardian profile.

        • Bayard

          It is always noticeable how, after years of toeing the party line, retired editors, columnists, generals, civil servants, top brass from wherever you care to look, suddenly discover they have a social conscience, right at the point when they can no longer do anything about it.
          PS are you Welsh.

          • Carrots

            Yeah… similarly politicians make a lot more sense in opposition than in government and when they switch back to opposition start making sense again.

            Why would I be Welsh and what does that have to do with anything? (no)

          • Bayard

            Try putting your handle into Google Translate, English to Welsh. I thought you might be taking a leaf out of Loony’s book, in an ironical way.

    • Ian

      “The entire list of 40 trial monitors had their remote access to the #Assange hearings withdrawn this morning. “

      Craig is lucky to get in, will be interesting to see if he can continue. They obviously don’t want public scrutiny or discussion of the trial. Secret trials, who does that remind you of? Hmm.

      I won’t be remotely surprised if they find a way of excluding him, claiming some spurious grounds if he publishes opinion on his blog.

      • Ian

        “Defense: When in receipt of classified info in the US, are you aware of examples of press proceeding to publish that material?

        Mark Feldstein (expert): Yes. It’s a daily occurrence”

  • Geoffrey

    I like reading newspapers. It does not mean I believe everything that is written in them. Untruths are pretty easy to spot,so is propaganda, in fact even bias and propaganda tells me quite a bit. If I want to dig further into a story I can. If there were no newspapers there would be far fewer journalists and without journalists it would be harder to find information. I would rather have Aaronivitch and Fiske rather than neither. In many cases the same newspapers that are unsympathetic to Assange are also helping eg The Sunday Times magazine has a helpful and sympathetic story on his wife and children.
    My guess is that Extinction Rebellion have made a very bad decision. I can understand why Craig dislikes the press, but that does not mean it should be shut down.

    • Dungroanin

      Oh dear Geoffrey … you probably think Leveson was a bad thing and best shelved as it has been.

      Aaronovitch has a special place in hell he has paid for along with all the other DS ‘fake Commie’ types who have pushed for the hard BrexShit along with nouveau Alt right kipper types. And their ever burgeoning Alt Media spittoons.

      Just like Starmer who will standby and see the hardest BrexShit delivered and many more excess deaths and the handing over of the NHS – including the iconic name. That’s his job! And how he will become a Lord! Happy to be smothered in gobshite spaffery whilst leading genuine social democrats over a cliff.

  • Harry Law

    “Baraitser interrupted that the UK/US Extradition Treaty was not incorporated into English Law.
    Fitzgerald replied that the entire extradition request is on the basis of the treaty. It is an abuse of process for the authorities to rely on the treaty for the application but then to claim that its provisions do not apply.
    “On the face of it, it is a very bizarre argument that a treaty which gives rise to the extradition, on which the extradition is founded, can be disregarded in its provisions. It is on the face of it absurd.” Edward Fitzgerald QC for the Defence
    Fitzgerald added that English Courts construe treaties all the time. He gave examples”.

    These are important points for the defence, in fact crucial. Here is my example Lord Atkin said
    Chung Chi Cheung v The King: PC 2 Dec 1938.

    References: [1939] AC 160, [1938] UKPC 75
    Links: Bailii
    Coram: Lord Atkin
    Ratio: Hong Kong.
    Held: ‘ [S]o far, at any rate, as the Courts of this country are concerned, international law has no validity save in so far as its principles are accepted and adopted by our own domestic law. There is no external power that imposes its rules upon our own code of substantive law or procedure. The Courts acknowledge the existence of a body of rules which nations accept amongst themselves. On any judicial issue they seek to ascertain what the relevant rule is, and, having found it, they will treat it as incorporated into the domestic law, so far as it is not inconsistent with rules enacted by statutes or finally declared by their tribunals. . .
    Statutes: Immigration Act 1971

    The Magistrate Baraitser claims that the extradition treaty differs from the 2003 UK Act and that Parliament meant something else, it should make no difference since the Primary legislation of the Act does NOT conflict with the treaty even if it is silent or as Lord Atkin said “so far as it is not inconsistent with rules enacted by statutes”. The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT) is an international agreement regulating treaties between states.The VCLT is considered a codification of customary international law and state practice concerning treaties.
    In any case the charges are manifestly political offences and are therefore Non extradictable.

  • J Arther Nast

    there is no doubt that the press is bought and paid for.. However the ground on which these meritricious creatures stand bears the flag of hypocrisy. this is there weakness..They live amongst us, attack them where ever you can.

  • Jack

    Stupid Russia should have jailed Navalny, accuse him of being a western agent, accuse him of being a rapist and possibly extradite him to Syria to sit in jail on bogus claims.

    Seriously though, I really wonder what mental state Assange is in, so much abuse he have been through by western states, it is such a disgrace.
    If only Trump could focus on the matter, with Biden he will not be “pardoned”.

  • 6033624

    It’s very odd but a lot of mainstream outlets ARE reporting on this hearing sorry, I don’t mean reporting ON the hearing I mean they are reporting that it is taking place. What’s odd is that they have (slightly) toned down the propaganda they are printing. I don’t imagine it’s because of being embarrassed that they are being caught out. Nor do I think it is because the location in any way means they have felt differently about it. No, I think they are readying themselves for the case to be won and to do somewhat of an about face and to, at least, sympathise with him. I think this is about how they want the public to view THEM not Assange.

    Still, they haven’t stopped with the disinformation campaign. It’s almost like they have all been handed the same briefing and been told to put it in their own words – in fact I’m not sure that HASN’T happened.

    Anyway, good luck and THANK YOU for being literally the ONLY journalist to report on this.

    • Johny Conspiranoid

      ” It’s almost like they have all been handed the same briefing and been told to put it in their own words – in fact I’m not sure that HASN’T happened.”

      It is probably what has happened.

      • wonky

        It is 100% what happened. Here’s an almost forgotten occurrence to prove it:
        Canadian PM Harper caught copying John Howard’s speech on Iraq – YouTube (2m 53s)

        There was an even better video of this, which included the speeches of the foreign ministers of New Zealand and Britain.
        It was originally posted by “anonymous”, and the speeches’ audio was edited on top of one another. Ridiculously, they all held the exact same (!) speech to convince their parliaments to join the coalition of the willing and to bring down evil Saddam now or never..
        This original video got “memory-holed”, as blatant censorship and history revisionism is euphemistically called nowadays.

  • Republicofscotland

    Over 40 human right organisations not even allowed to view Assanges trial, as judge throws out defences plea for an extension to January.

    Consortium News – DAY ONE OF ASSANGE HEARING: Dramatic Opening Day; First Witness Testifies After Judge Denies Adjournment to January

  • Ken Garoo

    Kudos to the Old Bailey 6 – for their part in trying to pry open the all-but-secret-trial of Assange.

  • Smiling Through

    Keep up the good work, Craig.

    You were missed by those of us demonstrating outside the US consulate in Edinburgh this morning, but glad you were doing the more important business in London.

  • Crispa

    Tonight’s BBC app News headlines depressingly says it all. Of the 12 featured items 6 are overkill covid – 19 stuff + the headline. Of the remaining 6, 2 relate to sport thought there is a separate Sports menu, one on the government’s defence of the new Brexit Bill which reneges on its agreements with the EU, one on the victim of the Birmingham stabbing incident, one on the Arena bombing Inquiry, which is at least worthy of reporting as an actual event taking place currently, and the other on Prince Harry’s repaying the costs of doing up his “cottage”. And this all comes under the heading of “News” when it is really just pap for the masses.

    • jayhanno

      Well German ARD today had Assange in the news after Navalny’s news that he is awake now…I was mildly suprised…

      • pete

        ARD had a program on the Assange case today, i’ll watch it tomorrow and report if if has anything useful to say. It is probably available on line also.

  • nevermind

    many thanks to those enabling Craig to be first in the queue, what a gracious bunch of early risers. Buy them a pint, i’ll pay for it.
    Its becoming obvious that this Government wants to use the covid distancing rules to reduce as many witnesses to their ghastly justice as possible.
    My best wishes to you Craig, and to Kristine, should you have a chance, i hope they don’t ban pencils and paper in court…

  • James Hugh

    That’s such a beautiful gesture from the people who were up really early to make sure you got a space Craig… Power to the spirit of justice and truth.. Whatever happens..

  • Tony

    Craig, do you know if any of the organisers of the XR protests outside the printing presses were summarily fined under the new diktat?

  • Ub Iwerks

    Thanks Craig for your incredible work!

    The german MSM ARD-tagesschau, the most followed TV news show in Germany made a good coverage of the trial today.
    They pubblished even a documentary 3 days ago about the total survaillance in the ecuadorian embassy.
    I was totally surprised after all the silence in the german MSM.
    However it is a scandal to see how the german government fights for Navalny and leaves Assange aside.

  • Sean_Lamb

    The fact that the judge refused an extension, while promising to keep the fairness of the late serving of the new indictment under review, is more a good thing for Assange than a bad thing.

    You can’t help thinking that if his lawyers had got their act together and presented their full defense in February then Assange might be free now – or at least have got to an appeal jurisdiction more likely to view his arguments favorably. If he has as avenue to go to the ECHR eventually I believe they will rule in his favor. Of course, he sits in prison in the meantime. This is the problem with the constant delaying of his legal team.

    There is a chance – perhaps not a big chance – that the magistrate has heard enough and has a fair idea how she will rule. If she rules in Assange’s favor it will be no thanks to his legal team.

    Persisting with the Jen Robinson – Mark Summers combination has been an absolute disaster. Mark Summers has taken on the hacking charge on which Assange is more vulnerable and has failed to inform the magistrate that
    a) the password was not a network password, rather only an account to the local machine Manning worked on
    b) the password hash appears uncrackable and probably not a genuine hash.
    c) there are numerous other motivations for Manning to have asked for it to be cracked that had nothing to do with hacking. In fact hacking or any motivation was not discussed.

    It should have been obvious who Jen Robinson worked for when journalist Michael Hastings died in a flaming car wreck a day or so after speaking on the phone with her

    As it is, it appears she is going to provided the witness testimony for this claim: ‘ “Mr Rohrabacher going to see Mr Assange, and saying on instructions of the President, offering pardon or some other way out if Mr Assange played ball and said the Russians had nothing to do with” the leaks’

    The fact is Assange has consistently said Russians had nothing to do with the leaks, it has nothing to do with ‘playing ball’. What Rohrbacher was suggesting was a pardon in exchange for PROOF. The fact that in a few days Ms Robinson is going to give such evidence which severely damages Assange’s credibility – a credibility he has assiduously worked to maintain – should tell you precisely who it is Ms Robinson really works for.

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