Russiagate hysteria has ushered in a “dark period” for mainstream journalism, Wikileaks’ editor-in-chief told RT, adding that in a just world, the countless journalists who peddled the Russia collusion theory would be out of work.
Speaking to Going Underground host Afshin Rattansi, Kristinn Hrafnsson noted that within twenty-four hours of Hillary Clinton’s “humiliating” defeat in the 2016 election, “Russia became the entity that everything should be blamed on.” But with Robert Mueller’s special investigation ending with a collusion-less murmur, it’s difficult to imagine how journalism will ever recover from two years of Russiagate howling, Hrafnsson said.
We’ve had this frenzy in the media, an absolutely neo-McCarthyist era which is a total humiliation for journalism. Who has gained? I can tell you who has lost. Journalism in general has lost. This is an extremely dark period for mainstream media, especially in the United States and for those who cater to that market.
Insisting that the endless reams of anonymously-sourced collusion “scoops” amount to journalistic malpractice that far surpasses the Iraq WMD fiasco, the Wikileaks editor-in-chief expressed amazement that there has been little to no professional ramifications for reporters who bought into the baseless conspiracy.
I have no idea how the mainstream media, who were most active in this Russiagate frenzy, will recover. I simply don’t see that happening. In a normal world, a lot of journalists would be emptying their desks today.
He singled out Guardian reporter Luke Harding, who once called Wikileaks a “useful idiot” for Russia, and was behind a highly-controversial story published in November which alleged that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort had made several visits to Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Wikileaks is currently suing The Guardian over the uncorroborated story.
“Who’s the idiot?” Hrafnsson asked. “Luke Harding published a book called ‘Collusion’ where he maintains that there had been collusion and that Wikileaks was in the midst of it. But his own paper is now printing front page stories telling him that he was wrong. I mean, does he still have a job at the Guardian?”
As for Wikileaks’ role in the now-defunct Russiagate narrative, Hrafnsson said that he doesn’t understand why his organization was singled out for publishing Hillary Clinton’s emails.
“There were dozens of media organizations that were disseminating the exact same information. But why single out and mention Wikileaks?”
He also commented on the recent arrest of Chelsea Manning, who was imprisoned after refusing to testify in front of a grand jury in a closed hearing in relation to her disclosure of US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Reportedly being held in solitary confinement, Manning’s treatment is “something you would see from an authoritarian regime,” said Hrafnsson.
Finally, the Wikileaks editor spoke about Julian Assange’s ongoing ordeal with his Ecuadorian hosts, whose treatment of Assange has changed “180 degrees.”
“The hostility towards Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy has increased. He has been stripped of communication for weeks on end, there are limits on the visitors who can see him at the embassy, and he is basically now treated like a prisoner, instead of the individual that was granted diplomatic asylum, which carries responsibility according to international law.”