JULIAN ASSANGE IS a deeply polarizing figure. Many admire him and many despise him (into which category one falls in any given year typically depends on one’s feelings about the subject of his most recent publication of leaked documents).
But one’s views of Assange are completely irrelevant to this article, which is not about Assange. This article, instead, is about a report published this week by The Guardian that recklessly attributed to Assange comments that he did not make. This article is about how those false claims — fabrications, really — were spread all over the internet by journalists, causing hundreds of thousands of people (if not millions) to consume false news. The purpose of this article is to underscore, yet again, that those who most flamboyantly denounce Fake News, and want Facebook and other tech giants to suppress content in the name of combating it, are often the most aggressive and self-serving perpetrators of it.
One’s views of Assange are completely irrelevant to this article because, presumably, everyone agrees that publication of false claims by a media outlet is very bad, even when it’s designed to malign someone you hate. Journalistic recklessness does not become noble or tolerable if it serves the right agenda or cause. The only way one’s views of Assange are relevant to this article is if one finds journalistic falsehoods and Fake News objectionable only when deployed against figures one likes.
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