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The Media Burial Of WikiLeaks

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While discussing the arrest of Julian Assange and the WikiLeaks controversy, Marc asked me a somewhat facetious question, but one that actually makes sense: “Were you on the distribution list of e-mails that were sent out forbidding journalists from talking about the WikiLeaks story?”

It was meant in humor, but the more I thought about it, the more it may explain why there is almost no mention of this in mainstream media. It’s very strange that arguably one of the biggest news stories in the world right now is being virtually ignored.

Take a look online, and it’s all over the place. Everything from the dissection of the charges against WikiLeaks founder/director Julian Assange to how the US government plans on prosecuting him is out there. Hidden rather well if you didn’t have some knowledge about Assange and WikiLeaks site already, but there to be had nonetheless.

Yet, 24 hours after his arrest, there is not one mention of his arrest on televised news. Anywhere. None of the networks mentioned it. CNN and (most shockingly) Fox News are tight-lipped. No one is talking about a story that could certainly have lasting implications in the realm of US–hell, world politics.

The story is at least symmetrical to the Watergate scandal of the 1970s. Then, former US President Richard Nixon was implicated in having his cabinet cover up a plot to break in to the Democratic National Committee headquarters and keeping the entire thing a secret. Now, Julian Assange, founder of the WikiLeaks website, has been arrested. The site has leaked classified government documents from all over the world in an attempt to distribute information about many governments. This is how we found out about the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, among many other incidents all over the world. Assange was arrested not for being a terrorist or even a dissident, but for completely unrelated crimes.

Thoee crimes, you ask? That’s a good question in and of itself. The charges seem to be sexual in nature, ranging from rape to sex with a minor to non-consensual sex without a condom and use of force. Assange was charged according to Sweedish laws, but arrested in the UK.

So, we have a polarizing political figure and tales of underage sex all in the same story? Isn’t this how Sarah Palin became a celebrity? (And, wouldn’t you know who won the pony, she just had to get her face time in this story, too.)

This story is not only one if great importance in this day and age of internet life, but also one that has all the earmarks for a media sensation that could be a ratings bonanza. And it’s being virtually ignored.

This is a HUGE problem with corporate media. (And, whether you know it or not, every single “news” outlet on television, save for possibly PBS, is just that.) Sensationalistic drivel is rubbed in our faces almost 24 hours a day. We can’t turn our heads without inadvertently sticking our noses in either Lindsay Lohan’s coke stash or up Kim Kardashian’s butt. Yet a story that could tell the future of information itself is swept under the rug. Priorities are definitely out of whack here.

But then, it could very well be that every journalist in the country was sent an e-mail ordering them not to talk about this. if I did get it, I probably would have ignored it, anyway, because this is too important not to talk about.

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About Michael Melchor

Michael Melchor has covered pop culture in all its forms for several publications and websites, including BackStage Pass magazine, 411Mania.com, and Examiner.com.
  • I’ve just got back from Europe and it’s far from being the case over there that this story (stories) isn’t receiving any coverage. It’s all over the news, and rightly so.

  • STM

    Yes, I agree. How was Portugal? I didn’t send yout that bloody email. Sorry mate.

  • STM

    And the Assange story is going right off Down Under … it’s every bloody where. Good stuff, too, and arguably some of the best newspaper copy for decades.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Pretty big news up here too. My mom even knows about it, and that’s saying something because she pretty much immerses herself in nothing but local coverage.

  • Loved Lisbon, Stan. We managed to do most of the curriculum stuff: fado, the Alfama, the castle, the Torre de Belem, the monument to Henry the Navigator etc.

    Found a place in Belem that sells the most incredible pasteis (custard tarts) – so delicious that we kept going back there at least once or twice a day to get more. You probably came across it yourself: right on the main drag just before you get to the Sao Jeronimo monastery, on the same side of the street.

    And Sintra – like a fairytale. The Palacio de Pena makes Hearst Castle look like my Dad’s garden shed.

  • Just a chance

    Stories about Assange, Wikileaks, and what few revelations there have been from the diplomatic cable releases, have been on every major news network in the US.