Swimming Up the Wiki-Leaks Current

15 Dec

It’s been almost two weeks now that we’ve been treated to continuing coverage of the Wiki-Leaks saga, from the trials and tribulations of its unnaturally pale founder, Julian Assange, to the plethora of – leaks? – more like cascades — of information about US diplomats and global governments.

The favoured media trope is that, like those highly unflattering magazine photos of movie stars caught without the make-up and air-brushing, this information shows us the real face of the system.

But really, what if anything are we learning that’s new? That the US thinks Mexico is ineffectual in its battle against organized crime, that it must coddle the evil president of Uzbekistan because they run supplies from there to Afghanistan, or that China is frustrated by the intransigence of the North Korean ruling regime? Is any of this surprising? Aren’t most of us already aware that ruling elites talk one way amongst themselves and another way to the rest of us?

What’s more, so much of  what we’re hearing is just gossip. Someone thinks Kim Il Jung is a “flabby old chap,” and someone else cruelly notes that the first lady of Azerbaijan has over-indulged in plastic surgery, while Hilary Clinton wonders if Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is a bit unhinged – who cares?

The rough-looking, unvarnished pictures of reality have always been there for anyone who cares to look. Take a recent article in the business section of the New York Times. In it we are told the story of a 73-year-old Lilla Roberts, a retiree in Queens, who refinanced her modest house to make a few repairs only to end up with an eviction notice on her front door because, well, because banks can do that kind of thing to people like her. Robo-signing, back-dating mortgage transfers, outright fraud – their techniques are various – and extremely difficult to counter. Mrs. Roberts, said the Times, “is one of the many Americans, mostly poor and lower-middle-class, who have been devastated by a system that is as rapacious, uncaring – and sloppy – in tossing people out of their homes as it once was in foisting predatory mortgages on them.”

Is there a gut-churning irony to the fact that banks almost felled by stupidity and greed got billions in bail-out money, while regular people who didn’t know what was going on are being put out on the streets in droves? I would say yes. More so than the fact that Saudi Arabia is scared of Iran’s nuclear ambitions or that the Pakistani government is corrupt or that Italian president Berlusconi is an idiot. These things are obvious and have been for a very long time already. It’s the blind eye being turned to injustices in our own nations that should be providing the shock factor here. And those are the stories that journalists should be digging up and exposing.



2 Responses to “Swimming Up the Wiki-Leaks Current”

  1. john peck December 15, 2010 at 8:13 pm #

    He does look like a thin white duke!

    Much is mundane and unsurprising, but images like Collateral Murder prove its worth.

  2. Eden Baylee December 16, 2010 at 9:33 am #

    I agree this is thinly-veiled gossip trying to pass itself off as news. However, when you expose, and more to the point, embarrass the powers that be, someone is going to take the fall. These “so-called” secrets need the media churn to perpetuate their existence. That includes making Assange out to be the evil incarnate, drawing attention away from real issues at hand. This story is more about Assange than anything else, and now that he’s been freed on bail, I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about it again.

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