Julian Assange, and his publication Wikileaks have played a significant role in the shaping of the 2016 election, leaving a lot of room for debate and speculation. The democratic party, and many on the left, have condemned or simply disregarded the information that has been found in the email leaks of Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta, of which there are now over 30,000, and instead have deflected to a narrative that accuses Russia of attempting to interfere with the outcome of our election. Despite there being zero conclusive evidence to support this claim, it is certainly at least within the realm of possibilities.
However, I am not skeptical that the contents of Wikileaks’ recent leaks have been tampered with in any way. The fact of the matter is that they currently have an unprecedented perfect record that includes more than ten million documents over the span of the last decade. Considering the Democratic Party, and even Podesta himself, have failed to prove or give a specific example that any of the newly released emails have been altered, why would anyone believe that this isn’t just a diversion from what these emails have revealed?
Well, lets take a look at some important things they have shown us. In one email sent to Podesta from Labor Outreach Director, Nikki Budzinski, she states that Hillary Clinton has “privately told the building trades that she does not oppose pipelines.”
Even though, just the day before, while campaigning in New Hampshire at the time, she publicly declared opposition to the Northern Energy Direct (NED) pipeline project. A student at West Virgina University had asked Clinton if she supported the NED pipeline, and she responded with a “firm ‘no.’”
The Clinton Foundation has also been criticized for accepting “pay-to-play” donations from foreign countries, or leaders. It was revealed that she was offered $12 million from the King of Morocco to attend an event in May of 2015. Clinton was not secretary of state at the time, and ended up not attending, but it is unclear if the donation was still given.
So yes, these emails are newsworthy and may contain important information the public would have otherwise been ignorant of. But, I think it’s imperative that these two topics remain mutually exclusive. Meaning, that while we should certainly denounce any real attempts of election interference from Russia, or anyone for that matter, at the same time need understand that the contents of the recent leaks include information that’s worth taking a look at. Wikileaks’ agenda, whatever it may be, should have no bearing on how journalists report leaked documents, until proven to be unreliable.
Personally, I think Assange is a peculiar character that plays a potentially crucial role in both public opinion and trust in governance. He is similar to that of Petyr Baelish, or Lord Varys, for those who watch Game of Thrones, in the sense that he acts as a rogue agent to expose the corruption within major power structures for what may actually just be personal gain. Assange’s true motives still remain unknown.
Perhaps what may be the most interesting part of this is that Wikileaks once appeared to be an agent of the left, but has now become a major ally of the alt-right. Regardless, I think it’s necessary that all who participate in the political process understand that just because journalists cover the contents Wikileaks’ files does not mean they support the organization, or that they support a Donald Trump presidency. Failing to critique Clinton and her campaign on what’s been found in Podesta’s emails in the name of preventing a Trump presidency, or that Russia is behind this is, in my opinion, incredibly unprofessional and unethical.