ICE blogs

August 17, 2013

Corporate media accused over Private Manning

Edward Wasserman, Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism, University of California, Berkeley, has criticised the corporate media for failing to call for the release of the WikiLeaks whistleblower, Private Bradley Manning.

He says: ‘Bradley Manning was a great source. His information was solid and truthful. There was no fabrication, there was no subterfuge. The world’s best news organisations believed the material was of immense public value. So now he goes to jail, perhaps for life, and the media stand in silence? No mainstream news organisation, even those that benefited directly from his leaks, has had the effrontery to demand he be freed.’

The ferocity of the Obama administration’s attack on Manning and WikiLeaks had been ‘withering’. According to Wasserman, since the government pressed ahead with charges of ‘aiding the enemy’, Manning technically faced the death penalty. This was the first time in 150 years that anybody had been charged with aiding the enemy for leaking information to the press for general publication. On 30 July, Manning was convicted of multiple Espionage Act violations – but cleared of the most serious ‘aiding the enemy’ charge.

Wasserman continued: ‘The world’s most powerful news media agreed, and turned Manning’s leaks into riveting stories. The WikiLeaks material was vetted and worked over, and ultimately used extensively by the Guardian of London, The New York Times, Le Monde, Der Spiegel and Spain’s El Pais. The materials continue to reverberate and, as recently as March 2013, the Guardian and the BBC spent 15 months on developing a sensational story about sectarian death squads in Iraq. It was prompted by reports Manning provided in which shocked US soldiers described seeing Iraqi detainees who’d been tortured by their countrymen.

‘So if they did right and the world benefited, did Manning do wrong? On what grounds can they say – as former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller and Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger have – that they would help defend WikiLeaks boss Assange if the US charges him, while they won’t lift a finger to protest Manning’s incarceration?’

Yet, on 1 August 2013, after Manning was found guilty of 20 counts relating to the transmission of state secrets, the Guardian’s editorial spoke out strongly in his support. It said the conviction was not fair ‘because American law in this area is not fair’ – not allowing a public interest defence. The editorial ended condemning ‘the brutal punishment of one fragile young man’.

• See http://www.mediaethicsmagazine.com/index.php/browse-back-issues/145-spring-2013/3998874-242-wasserman-preview-waiving-private-manning.

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