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The complete uniformity with which corporate media have treated this latest bombshell news raises even more concerns about how fundamentally intertwined and aligned they are with the interests of the US government. (Photo: Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Silence From Corporate Media as Key Assange Witness Recants

"They know they can get away with it because the mainstream media refuses to report it."

A key witness in the Department of Justice's case against Julian Assange has admitted that his entire testimony is false, a revelation that could be the death knell for US attempts to prosecute the Wikileaks founder.

Stundin: Key witness in Assange case admits to lies in indictment

Stundin's blockbuster (6/26/21) failed to explode in US corporate media.

Sigurdur Ingi Thordarson, often known as "Siggi the Hacker," made the confession to Icelandic outlet Stundin (6/26/21) last weekend. The article details how Thordarson, a convicted felon, pedophile and diagnosed sociopath, used his position to steal money from Wikileaks, and received immunity from prosecution from the FBI in a quid pro quo.

Such a blatant and juicy piece of important news should have made worldwide headlines. But, instead, as of Friday, July 2, there has been literally zero coverage of it in corporate media; not one word in the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, NBC News, Fox News or NPR. A search online for either "Assange" or "Thordarson" will elicit zero relevant articles from establishment sources, either US or elsewhere in the Anglosphere, even in tech-focused platforms like the Verge, Wired or Gizmodo.

Widely covered by alternative sites

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The news is not some sort of esoteric knowledge known only to those carefully watching Icelandic affairs. The story trended worldwide on Twitter on the weekend, with a number of prominent accounts or figures like Wikileaks itself, Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald tweeting about it.

Not only that, Thordarson's confession was well covered by alternative news sites with a tiny fraction of the resources establishment media have (e.g., Consortium News, 6/27/21; World Socialist Web Site, 6/27/21; Canary, 6/30/21). The story led Democracy Now!'s Monday show (6/28/21), which featured an in-depth interview with Assange's legal advisor, Jennifer Robinson. This distinction once again highlights the gaping chasm between corporate and alternative media, suggesting that certain subjects are simply no-go zones for the former.

It is not that the corporate press are completely uninterested in Assange. A number of outlets have covered the news this week that he and his partner Stella Morris are planning to get married (e.g., SBS, 6/27/21; Daily Mail, 6/28/21; Evening Standard, 6/28/21; London Times, 6/29/21). Yet none of these articles mentioned the far more consequential news about Thordarson and how it undermines the entire prosecution of Assange.

Dubious witness

Thordarson was an extremely dubious witness from the start. In 2013, he was jailed on charges of sex crimes involving an underage teenager. The next year, he also pled guilty to molesting or inappropriate sexual behavior toward nine other children. A court-appointed psychiatrist diagnosed him as a sociopath incapable of feeling remorse.

In 2014, he was sentenced to two further years in prison for a range of financial crimes, including embezzling $50,000 from Wikileaks. He has also been accused of attempting to blackmail other local businesses, although charges were later dropped. Thus, just like Assange, Siggi the Hacker has spent much of the last decade behind bars.

Siding with the state

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In a nation with a healthy media system, the press would be hailing these revelations as a final blow to an authoritarian government's attempts to use its muscle to silence free speech and investigative journalism worldwide, while also wondering how such an untrustworthy witness could have become such a key source for the FBI and the DoJ.

But our global corporate press long ago decided to side with the US national security state, applauding the Trump administration for abducting Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy in London (FAIR.org, 4/18/19). The Washington Post's editorial board (4/11/19) cheered the arrest, calling it "long overdue." The Wall Street Journal (4/11/19) was of a similar opinion, its board expressing its relief that there would finally be some "accountability for Assange." CNN (4/12/19) attempted to draw a distinction between itself and Wikileaks' work, insisting in its headline that Assange is "not a journalist."

As FAIR (8/25/20) noted last year, corporate media have been working hard to look the other way during Assange's trial, after having attempted to paint him as a Russian asset (FAIR.org, 12/3/18). This appears to have worked. Former Democratic presidential nomination candidate Howard Dean tweeted this week that "Assange did real damage along with others in collaborating with the Russians to elect Trump. He should not be pardoned under any circumstances." Dean is apparently under the impression that this is what the trial is about, not the publishing of the Iraq War Logs.

The complete uniformity with which corporate media have treated this latest bombshell news raises even more concerns about how fundamentally intertwined and aligned they are with the interests of the US government. As investigative journalist Matt Kennard (Twitter, 7/1/21) noted: "One of the amazing things about the legal stitch-up of Assange is how brazen it is. They know they can get away with it because the mainstream media refuses to report it." Unfortunately, he appears to be right.


© 2021 Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR)
Alan MacLeod

Alan MacLeod

Alan MacLeod is a member of the Glasgow University Media Group. He is author of "Bad News From Venezuela: 20 Years of Fake News and Misreporting." His latest book, Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, was published by Routledge in May 2019. Follow him on Twitter: @AlanRMacLeod

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