How foolish of me it was to question whether Wikileaks founder Julian Assange really had a deal to distribute his new talk show to hundreds of millions of viewers. It turns out he does: with Russia Today, the English-language news network launched by the Russian government to massage its international image.
That’s right: Assange, self-styled foe of government secrets and conspiracies of the powerful, is going to be a star on a TV network backed by the Kremlin. The same Kremlin that has done suspiciously little to investigate or prevent the killings and beatings of journalists that have plagued Russia for more than a decade. The same Kremlin accused of blatant fraud in December’s parliamentary elections. The same Kremlin whose control of the country’s broadcast media allowed it to suppress coverage of the massive protests mounted in response to that fraud. The same Kremlin whose embrace of corruption led to Russia being named “the world’s most corrupt major economy” by Transparency International in 2011.
And so on. That Kremlin is Julian Assange’s new patron. The same Julian Assange who accused President Obama of putting “a chill across investigative journalism” by prosecuting Army leaker Bradley Manning.