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Yearning for Assassination of Julian Assange Puts "Journalist" Under Fire
Time magazine senior correspondent says he "can't wait" to defend US government if it takes out Wikileaks founder
You can delete the tweet, just not always the message.
Michael Grunwald, Time magazine's senior national correspondent, has come under enormous fire this weekend for declaring his support for the extrajudicial murder of Wikileaks' publisher and embattled journalist Julian Assange.
In what is perhaps the most singular and noxious example yet of how establishment media figures express their contempt for those journalists who have chosen to challenge government and corporate power as oppose to coddling that authority, Grunwald tweeted:
Though Grunwald deleted the original tweet—after someone pointed out, according to the Huffington Post, how it would "only encourage Assange supporters"—it was too late to stem the fallout.
An archived version of the original tweet and the responses and retweets it generated are available here.
Shortly after it was deleted, Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald—himself the target of similar vitriol from establishment "journalists"—tweeted:
Wikileaks also jumped into the debate, calling for Grunwald's dismissal and using social media to call out Time for the behavior of their correspondent*:
We have written to TIME magazine to ask for Michael Grunwald's resignation https://t.co/X8Rf3TN5MY— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) August 18, 2013
And Greenwald, referring to his being called "an activist" and "not a journalist" by numerous mainstream news outlets and pundits due to his hard-hitting role as commentator on issues like civil liberties, Bush era crimes, and government/media complicity over the years, tweeted this about Grunwald's comments:
I assume you're allowed to express this vile opinion & still be an objective "journalist"- not an "activist", right? https://t.co/NhXiZ5jdTl— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) August 17, 2013
In the aftermath of early reporting by Greenwald based on NSA documents released to him by Edward Snowden this past June, NBC host of Meet the Press David Gregory famously asked the Guardian journalist if he himself should be prosecuted for "aiding and abetting" Snowden because he met with him in Hong Kong to interview the whistleblower and discuss the NSA documents and the revelations they contained.
Greenwald was sharp in his response to Gregory, saying, "I think it’s pretty extraordinary that anybody who would call themselves a journalist would publicly muse about whether or not other journalists should be charged with felonies."
And continued, “If you want to embrace that theory, it means that every investigative journalist in the United States who works with their sources, who receives classified information is a criminal, and it’s precisely those theories and precisely that climate that has become so menacing in the United States."
Now, in Grunwald's case, it goes beyond musing on whether or not a journalist should be investigated or arrested for investigative work, but whether they should simply be assassinated by a foreign government.
Later on Saturday, Grunwald retracted his statement:
It was a dumb tweet. I'm sorry. I deserve the backlash. (Maybe not the anti-Semitic stuff but otherwise I asked for it.)— Michael Grunwald (@MikeGrunwald) August 18, 2013
Prior to this Grunwald had retweeted a series of nasty tweets posted to and about him, to which Greenwald responded:
Now @MikeGrunwald is re-tweeting expressions of violence toward him as though he's the victim. It's only OK when he does it, not done to him— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) August 17, 2013
The Huffington Post adds:
Grunwald's employer distanced itself from the substance of his tweet. "Michael Grunwald posted an offensive tweet from his personal Twitter account that is in no way representative of TIME's views," a TIME spokesperson said. "He regrets having tweeted it, and he removed it from his feed."
The reporter had previously criticized the opposition to drone strikes. In March, Grunwald tweeted that he doesn't understand why people were concerned about the death of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen, by drone strike in Yemen.
"While I'm on the uncaring kick," the tweet said, "I don't even get why I'm SUPPOSED to care about the American we iced in Yemen. He was Al Qaeda!"
Despite the deletion of the "offensive comment," however, there was no apology directed toward Mr. Assange.
Meanwhile, on Twitter, the conversation continued:
*Correction: This news post erroneously identified Time magazine's editor-in-chief as Tina Brown. However, Brown works for Newsweek/Daily Beast, not Time.