Wikileaks' Julian Assange and NYT's Bill Keller Trade Barbs at UC Berkeley

Categories: Media
assange&shafer.jpg
Matt Smith
Assange via Skype with moderator Jack Shafer looking on
Julian Assange is a paranoid, misguided, smelly bag lady -- not an open government hero. And New York Times executive editor Bill Keller? Well, he is a cynical dissembler interested more in covering his own ass than telling the truth.

A couple hundred journalists, including yours truly, assembled over the weekend at U.C. Berkeley, awaiting a prize fight -- and we got one.

If, like me, you've been following with fascination the feud between Keller and Wikileaks founder Assange, this Reva and David Logan Investigative Reporting Symposium offered up a fight of Rumble in the Jungle proportions between the two.

KellerLaughs.jpg
Matt Smith
New York Times' editor Bill Keller laughs during War On Wikileaks panel.
They went at it live for the first time since the battle became public on Jan. 26 in a 8,000-word New York Times Magazine story by Keller, "Dealing with Assange and the WikiLeaks Secrets." That phrasing seemed weird; wasn't Assange Keller's benefactor? The Times had just collaborated with Assange to produce a series of devastating news reports on truth-shading in international diplomacy, based on 391,832 secret Pentagon documents.

The article itself was weirder, describing Assange as smelly, dirty, bombastic, a believer in unproven conspiracies, nervous, and prone to skipping along the sidewalk even in the presence of serious newsmen.

Notwithstanding the trivializing profile, the gaunt, white-haired Australian hacker, who was connected to the conference via Skype, managed to hold his own against Keller, who sat on a panel titled "The War on Wikileaks."

Moderator Jack Shafer, the erudite former SF Weekly editor who now writes on media for Slate, started things rolling with a "WTF" question about Keller's bag-lady depiction. But Keller dismissed the notion that there was anything unusual in his characterization. He said he made Assange seem like an unhinged loser merely to make the piece more readable.

"We weren't writing an academic report -- it was a story," Keller said. "That was information the reporter brought to me, and it was used as color."

Assange, glowing from a video-screen projection above the darkened UC lecture hall like an eerily articulate Oz, saw things differently.
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Toretele
Toretele

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ManWithAComment
ManWithAComment

Julian Assange is a hero. Bill Keller is part of the problem: Mainstream media that is part of the corporatocracy that it is supposed to be covering.

Ute Sonnenberg
Ute Sonnenberg

Lots of "he said" "he said" ... whats your message Matt?

jcadams
jcadams

Mr. Keller's personal comments about Mr. Assange have been continually snarky and gratuitous. Assange definitely would not have never gotten hired at the NYT. Keller and his bunch just wouldn't be comfortable with him. Assange is an edgy sort with no degree from anywhere. And NYT requires a degree from a refined Ivy League habitat or its equivalent. (Keller went to Pomona College.) But Mr. Assange accomplished something very important with his journalism venture. And, from what I have read, probably risked his personal liberty and maybe his life doing it. So Keller should pack it in and work with him. And convey a little more respect. Moreover WikiLeaks deserves some credit for providing the intelligence that fomented the recent overthrows in Tunisia, Eqypt and now Yemen. That kind of street cred is something that Mr. Keller and the NYT certainly can't claim. Keller has journalism envy.

Jhinco
Jhinco

Mr. Assange is correct; the New York Times probably has 40 executives editing the crap out of every international story that their forty reporters send in. Forty people in the field is not an international presence, and claiming to have an intelligent international view with that size staff is like watching the circus with a bag over your head.

originalone
originalone

Just a thought here, but nobody seems to wonder how the NYT's could verify what Wikileaks has in advance! Didn't the Pentagon or State dept. confirm the memos in advance? Manning gets the blame, yet, it's conceivable the dump was on purpose, either to embarrass or clean up the dead wood in the Department. One has to remember that Bush made sure that people were embedded in just about every department in the Government that mattered, sort of like sleepers you might say. That might also be why there hasn't been any action concerning the looting by the T.B.T.F. & the Treasury.

Evan Rowe
Evan Rowe

The fact that holmes wants to let the pentagon respond is just ridiculous. The NY Times has been there the whole time that the United States inherited the Franco-British empire and violently controlled huge swaths of land and human beings in 3 major regions. It's provided effective, subtle, propaganda support for it, despite the tepid criticism it may have provided at any given time. the New York times, is heavily integrated with the people that have power in the United States in both the dominant private sector and the dominant government sector.

Rajbirsandhu
Rajbirsandhu

William Keller’s stellar accomplishment?

Well here it is:

Keller Allowed Judy Miller to embellish the truth about everything she said about Iraq that took United States to the WAR against IRAQ. A lot of "News Stories" concocted by Ms. Miller that appeared in the New York Times were not vetted (Judy was actually more than a willing conduit for misinformation campaign undertaken by the WH at that time, designed to mislead the public) and Keller was Editor at the New York Times then as well and he defended her for a period.

Bjorn Stromberg
Bjorn Stromberg

Where is the video? How is this not getting more coverage?

Jungefrau1
Jungefrau1

Wait a sec...the headline on the landing page said NYT editor and Julian Assange go at it, but they just argued. Apparently HuffPo and I have different ideas of what "go at it" means. Sigh...

perspective2
perspective2

University of California Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau & Provost Breslauer Must Go: clean sweep Cal. leadership (The author who has 35 years’ consulting experience, has taught at University of California Berkeley, where he was able to observe the culture & the way senior management work)

Cal. Chancellor’s arrogance and poor judgment: pays ex Michigan governor $300,000 for lectures; recruits out of state $50,000 tuition students that displace qualified Californians; Latino enrollment drops while out of state jumps 2010; tuition to Return on Investment (ROI) drops below top 10; NCAA places basketball program on probation.

Chancellor Birgeneau’s ($500,000 salary) fiscal track record is dismal indeed. He would like to blame the politicians, since they stopped giving him every dollar asked for, & the state legislators do share some responsibility for the financial crisis. But not in the sense he means.

A competent chancellor would have been on top of identifying inefficiencies & then crafting a plan to fix them. Able oversight by the UC Board of Regents and the legislature would have required him to provide data on inefficiencies and on what steps he was taking to solve them during his 8 year reign. Instead, every year Birgeneau would request a budget increase, the timid regents would agree to it, and the legislature would provide. The hard questions were avoided by all concerned, & the problems just piled up to $150 million of inefficiencies….until there was no money left.

It’s not that Birgeneau was unaware that there were, in fact, waste & inefficiencies during his 8 year reign. Faculty & staff raised issues with Birgeneau & Breslauer ($400,000 salary), but when they failed to see relevant action taken, they stopped. Finally, Birgeneau engaged some expensive ($3,000,000) consultants to tell him & the Provost what they should have known as leaders or been able to find out from the bright, engaged people. (Prominent east-coast University accomplishing same at 0 costs)

Cal. has been badly damaged. Good people are loosing their jobs. Cal’s leadership is either incompetent or culpable. Merely cutting out inefficiencies does not have the effect desired. But you never want a crisis to go to waste. Increasing Cal’s budget is not enough. Take aim at the real source of Cal’s fiscal, & leadership crisis; honorably retire Chancellor Birgeneau & Provost Breslauer.

GSNP
GSNP

No doubt NYT got intimidated by USG - and turned against Wikileaks with the lame excuse of "someone else gave them info also" so he did not have to honor Agreement with Wikileaks.[what what other DEALS did USG promise NYT - to black-ball Assange so intently?]NYT is back-stabbing creep -- not to be trusted.

Will you be putting Berkley RUMBLE on YouTube -- in its entirety?"Wikileaks' Julian Assange and NYT's Bill Keller Trade Barbs at UC Berkeley"

Certainly hope so -- and in its entirety -- [unlike the katie couric type interviews -- how nice that fraud is gone - she was just all about protecting her $15M salary.]

GSNP
GSNP

Sure would like to VIEW this on YouTube - will you do that - in its entirety?"Wikileaks' Julian Assange and NYT's Bill Keller Trade Barbs at UC Berkeley"

Thank you

Bogart XIV
Bogart XIV

And Assange for the win. The Keller piece was despicable. They profited off of Assange and then used the cables, for example, to completely mislead the public about Iranian Missiles. Read the NYT pieces on Iranian missiles, then read the original cables. They completely misconstrue their contents, with headlines like North Korea Sells Iran 12 Missiles" without even mentioning that the cable shows huge international disagreement on this point, with scientists claiming that its quite possible the type of missile doesn't even exist!

bigriggs
bigriggs

Assange is a piece of shit...

Linsabaj
Linsabaj

might I suggest you may be a little to familiar with the part of anatomy closely ass- ociated with that :)

Uncle Sam
Uncle Sam

Big fella? Replace fella with moron, it seems to work for you.

Sunone2b
Sunone2b

Insults to Assange were included to provide "color?" Please. If you're going to insult someone in print, at least have the guts to stand by it after. What a spineless guy.

Linsabaj
Linsabaj

the color YELLOW no doubt :)

Vasu
Vasu

WE ARE SATISFIED WITH WHAT WIKILEAKS IS DOING...JUST SHUT YOUR ASS...

Blueworld78
Blueworld78

Keller is just another wimp. Keller says ¨Why do I have to deal with this shit? I say, ¨What a pea brain..!¨ he doesn't realize that the shit is him.

Hna tariq
Hna tariq

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jawbone3
jawbone3

Very nice write-up. In the spirit of WikiLeaks, here's a link to another article, with some transcriptions and short videos. (I apologize if I missed links to the videos.)

http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/...

Via Greg Mitchell's WikiLeaks News and Views blog,, Days 133 and 134, Saturday and Sunday, April 9 and 10th. Mitchell has been doing yeoman's work in tracking all things WikiLeaks and closely following the Bradley Manning story and the embarrassing, verging illega torturel, treatment he's receiving at the hands of the Dept. of Defense.

http://www.thenation.com/blog/...

Frontpage
Frontpage

My admiration and respect för Julian Assange is endless and my disgust for Bill Keller and his ilk is limitless.

strickla
strickla

Thanks for the report, and I'm going to have to second all the other commenters. Keller and the owners of his newspaper are liars and war criminals, and in a just world they would be in prison. We don't happen to live in that just world, but that doesn't mean we have to believe their shit. Go Julian...

strickla
strickla

Thanks for the report, and I'm going to have to second all the other commenters. Keller and the owners of his newspaper are liars and war criminals, and in a just world they would be in prison. We don't happen to live in that just world, but that doesn't mean we have to believe their shit.

Ron Willison
Ron Willison

Keller is a snake. He demonstrated that with his back stabbing ways of side stepping the working agreement the Times had with Wikileaks\ Asaunge. I've stopped commenting at the Times because of it.

GregLBean
GregLBean

From Greg Mitchell's blog, "Things to remember about Keller: backed Iraq invasion, called himself "liberal hawk," backed Judy Miller to the hilt. Marcy Wheeler adds: "You forgot: Sat on illegal wiretap story for a year." Which helped re-elect Bush."

Talk about stinky, Keller even smells from a great distance.

GregLBean
GregLBean

From Greg Mitchell's blog, "Things to remember about Keller: backed Iraq invasion, called himself "liberal hawk," backed Judy Miller to the hilt. Marcy Wheeler adds: "You forgot: Sat on illegal wiretap story for a year." Which helped re-elect Bush."

Talk about stinky, Keller even smells from a great distance.

[Cross posted - this comment also used in The Independent's article entitled, "Assange's collaborators get their knives out" published on Jan 30, 2011.- GB]

and

[Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/201...]

MrEricSir
MrEricSir

Given the revolts in the Middle East and India that occurred after and at least partially as a result of Wikileaks, it's kind of hard to argue against it at this point without sounding like a fascist.

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