The plain facts of the ill-advised and naive decision by some WikiLeaks Party members to meet with Bashar al-Assad speak for themselves. Therefore, there is no excuse for the hyperbole and misrepresentation of the event in The Australian’s editorial (“Assad’s WikiLeaks fan club”, 1/1).
As was almost universally reported elsewhere, the group’s explicit aim, however clumsily executed, was to express solidarity with the Syrian people, not the regime as the editorial repeatedly asserts. In fact, they were highly critical of the regime, and made it clear that their opposition to Western military intervention is not out of sympathy for the regime but out of fear of the consequences for the country’s people. For those with short memories, this was a hotly debated issue in the shadow of Iraq and is still far from clear-cut.
WikiLeaks itself did not know or approve of the meeting, also contrary to the editorial’s implication.
Traditional journalism’s hostility towards WikiLeaks is no secret, despite or perhaps because of the fact that they have exposed some of governments’ darkest secrets. Whatever the merits of that view, this type of self-serving, dishonest analysis is exactly what drives the public to seek out new forms of media.