Wikileaks' Julian Assange and NYT's Bill Keller Trade Barbs at UC Berkeley
|Assange via Skype with moderator Jack Shafer looking on|
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.
|New York Times' editor Bill Keller laughs during War On Wikileaks panel.|
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.