This is worth reading for a point I want to talk about today.
This kind of character smear ("he's not in his right mind," pronounced a 25-year-old who sort of knows him) is reserved for people who don't matter in the world of establishment journalists -- i.e., people without power or standing in Washington and, especially, those whom American Government authorities scorn. In official Washington, Assange is a contemptible loser -- the Pentagon hates him and wants him destroyed, and therefore the "reporters" who rely on, admire and identify with Pentagon officials immediately adopt that perspective -- and that's why he was the target of this type of attack. After I wrote my criticism of this article on Monday, I was contacted by Burns' co-writer, Ravi Somaiya, who defended this article from my criticisms. I agreed to keep the exchange off-the-record at his insistence -- and I will do so -- but that was the question I kept asking: point to any instance where the NYT ever subjected Someone Who Matters in Washington to this kind of personality and mental health trashing based on the gossip and condemnation of associates. It does not exist.
If you had read the long-ass bullshit piece, it detailed all of his ways that Julian Assange - an enemy and target of the US Government's butthurt defensive stance via all those leaks Assange Wiki'd - is crazy and dangerously paranoid. Of the government. Who hates him. For leaking government documents. And he's crazy for thinking this way. Aaaaaaaaaaaaahyup.
This seriously isn't the New York Times' only stint of pulling this kind of ridiculous bullshit. I recall - admidst tears of laughter and holding my sides - the time when New York Times (though strangely not Burns) had a wonderful, tear-jerking ten page narrative about what a nice guy Glenn Beck is.
In person, Beck is sheepish and approachable, betraying none of the grandiosity or bluster you might expect from a man who predicted “the next Great Awakening” to a few hundred thousand people in late August at the Lincoln Memorial or who declared last year that the president has a “deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture.” He wore a blue dress shirt tucked into jeans and brown loafers, which he kicked off as soon as he sat down. He showed little interest in the results from primary elections held the day before — upsets in Delaware and New York for Tea Party candidates whose followers often invoke Beck and Palin as spiritual leaders and even promote them as a prospective presidential ticket in 2012.
You can tell the writer in this instance is trying as hard as he can to be nice to Glenn Beck, but it comes off as needlessly neutral. Glenn Beck is the same guy who has no concept of how fair use works and insinuates outright that Disney just doesn't care about it. This is the same guy who blames everything he can on immigrants, be it blacks or latinos. This is the same guy who had his rally to restore racism on the same day as MLK's speech, and even though it was sheer apathy, he called it 'divine providence' and touted that God wished it to be so.
Being nice to Glenn Beck is not the same as trying to make Julian Assange look like a nut, but this is the kind of thing the New York Times has had prior experience with. Painting people who are outright full of shit like they're nice, approachable, decent people despite all that awful stuff you hear in their own radio show that they own that comes out of their mouth is right up the same alley as painting a ballsy, honest rebel like a nut.