Wikileaks; or, the mystery of Al Capone’s vault

Scott Lemieux on Wikileaks:

The purpose of the leaks and how Wikileaks framed them was precisely to sucker journalists into covering anodyne behavior as if it was scandalous. There are numerous factors, but one — which we also saw with respect to the Clinton Foundation — is that once editors and journalists have invested enough time in a story they’re very reluctant to conclude that Al Capone’s vault is in fact empty. It’s very hard to imagine even Clinton haters as obsessive as Fang and Greenwald writing a story about Hillary Clinton engaging in completely unexceptionable media engagement strategies any minimally competent campaign engages in if the story had been obtained from conventional sources, let alone hyping their “findings” as if they had he 21st century Pentagon Papers on their hands. (AFICT, neither particularly cared about the other Hillary Clinton EMAILS! scandal the Beltway media was rubbing its thighs bloody over.) What made Assange’s ratfucking work is that the reveal of SECRET EMAILS created an air of conspiracy around even the most inane trivia, and also played into a narrative that the DNC RIGGED the primary by [causal explanation absent.]

I’ve taught a media literacy course in which the first Wikileaks document dump figured prominently; one of the assignments requires students to analyze how governments manipulate secrecy and confidentiality, but I can imagine including media too.

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