Assange Talk Show: Revolutionary or Pretty Much Propaganda?

Today, Tuesday, April 17, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange debuted the first episode of The World Tomorrow, his new TV show on the RT — formerly Russia Today — network (more on this below). Still under house arrest in England, Assange interviewed Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Shia militant group Hezbollah, via video link. While an interview with Nasrallah was a “genuine coup” as the Guardian’s Luke Harding writes — the cleric last spoke to the media six years ago — it remains to be seen if Assange as talk show host is able to make the same kinds of waves as he has with the whistleblower site Wikileaks.

Wikileaks rose to fame and controversy after the site released thousands of classified government documents, diplomatic cables and other highly sensitive materials in November of 2010. Wikileaks first released the files to selected news outlets including the New York Times and the Guardian which, aware of the confidential nature of the contents, redacted them before publishing. In November of 2011, Wikileaks announced it would release release all 251,287 of the U.S. diplomatic cables it had acquired. Subsequent releases of files, most recently in February, have not garnered the attention that the first rounds did. Wikileaks has remained as much in the news due to Assange’s fight against an extradition order on charges of raping two Swedish women and the court martial faced by Bradley Manning, the U.S. soldier suspected of leaking thousands of top secret documents.

Is The World Tomorrow, complete with a theme song by rapper M.I.A., Assange’s latest bid to keep Wikileaks and himself in the public eye?

Wikileaks says that twelve of the 26- minute programs have been completed with Assange speaking to an “eclectic range of guests, who are stamping their mark on the future: politicians, revolutionaries, intellectuals, artists and visionaries.” Edward Moyer says this about the RT Network on CNET:

RT, formerly Russia Today, is a global multilingual TV news network based in the Russian Federation and funded by the state. The Moscow Times has said of it: “For some, Russia Today is a mouthpiece that spreads Kremlin propaganda around the world. For others, the state-bankrolled channel is a vital voice that offers different political viewpoints in an ocean of media monotony.” And Slate has called it “Russia’s answer to Fox News and MSNBC.”

WikiLeaks said RT is the show’s first licensee and had nothing to do with its production.

Assange’s own Quick Roll Productions has produced the films, in partnership with Dartmouth Films, which is based in the U.K. and produces independent films.

So far, while the first episode of Assange’s show will not have pleased the White House — Assange calls Nasrallah a freedom fighter who has “fought against the hegemony of the United States” — his performance as an interviewer lacks some bite. Harding describes him as become a “useful idiot,” noting that Twitter feedback on the show ranged widely: One viewer described Assange as “engrossing” but others said he was “like a robot,” “painful to watch,” and seen “nodding sagely while HN drones on.”

The real reason for raising eyebrows about Assange’s new venture is the RT network itself. RT  is owned by Russian state and controlled by the Kremlin; its programming makes no reference to “top-level corruption, Vladimir Putin’s alleged secret fortune – referenced in US embassy cables leaked by WikiLeaks – or the brutal behaviour of Russian security forces and their local proxies in the north Caucasus.” A December 2010 cable released on Wikileaks describes Russia as a “virtual mafia state,” as Harding points out. Why, he asks, is Assange teaming “up with an opaque regime where investigative journalists are shot dead (16 unsolved murders) and human rights activists kidnapped and executed, especially in Chechnya and other southern Muslim republics”?

Is Assange so hard up for cash that he has signed himself over to the Russian propaganda machine? Are any of Putin’s critics, like the Russians who protested in the thousands and tens of thousands against Putin in the winter, among the guests on the upcoming eleven episodes?

Related Care2 Coverage

Wikileaks Dumps Yet More Data; A Nobel For Manning?

Assange Loses Extradition Appeal: Has Wikileaks Lost Its Way?

Wikileaks’ Assange Faces Arrest In Australia

 

Photo by ssoosay

19 comments

Lynn C.
Lynn C.4 years ago

Interesting responses here.
Assange, like other whistle blowers has made a difference in our world. To speak out about issues is what a revolutionary does. 'Tis the only way change can occur. It's so easy to sit back behind your TV/computer screen and judge, but it is still those
who stand up and, despite being targets for this kind of criticism, still manage to make a difference.

Rin S.
Rin S.4 years ago

I think he's brave, and I commend him.
I like him because he exposed so many lies and was a major whistleblower. But if he really is just making shit up, I will lose respect for him.

Katherine W.
Kate W.4 years ago

I feel like someone needs to be in that line of work and if he's already in trouble what has he got to lose?

Jo Patterson

Anyone who blows the whistle on corruption has my support and my vote.

Cuyler B.
Cuyler B.4 years ago

Another atrocious headline - "revolutionary" and "propaganda" not at all mutually exclusive, nor does either have much to do with whether the show is worth watching.

Jonathan Netherton

I don't think it's a case of "hard up for cash" so much as the fact that between the Dempublicrats and Murdoch, RT is the only place left for a lot of OECD dissenters. Look at Hartmann. Olbermann got fired from MSNBC and current for talking smack about the establishment and their goons in each station - where is dissent about one's patron ever tolerated? Just have to talk about Russia's eternal thug state problem elsewhere.

Susan Diane
Susan Diane4 years ago

He seems to want to be heard even under house arrest. I agree about the ego part but not much different then many high profile men- including his questionable sexual behaviour. I still think Wikileaks was a good thing and am concerned about the fate of Bradley Manning.

Ian Fletcher
Ian Fletcher4 years ago

The amount of corruption, political or industrial, in the world is staggering. Assange is just showing a glimpse of the tip of the iceberg. One day he'll be given full recognition.
RT will definitely benefit from this as it is usually very boring and repetitive. Let's see if they criticise Putin and Russian imperialism a little bit more though..

LLOYD H.
Lloyd H.4 years ago

The only difference between revolutionary and propaganda is who is the status quo.

Muriel C.
Muriel C.4 years ago

The man chooses to interview a terrorist chief on his first show and you still are in doubt?
Mr Assange like to be notorious and he'll do anything for shock value. This isn't even so much political propaganda as it is personal propaganda for his"brand".
I can't stand self-important holier-than-though prigs.