Opinion: Fearless Adversarial Journalism Doesn’t Work When You Are Funded By A Billionaire

Via Disobedient Media

Disobedient Media previously opined on the dagger-in-the-back publication of a hit piece against Wikileaks’ Julian Assange just one day after a UK magistrate, with blatant conflict of interest in the matter, shot down his legal representatives’ attempt to finally free him from the confines of the Ecuadorian embassy.

What that article did not address was the patently obvious terminal illness suffered by The Intercept. That is, the outlet claims to publish “fearless, adversarial” reporting, while it is funded by a billionaire. Ken Silverstein, formerly employed at The Intercept and by Omidyar’s First Look Media, has described endemic problems at the outlet that have risen directly out of Omidyar’s leadership or lack thereof.

The fundamental problem facing The Intercept is not ultimately about how or why the outlet published a smear specifically timed to cut support away from Assange, even though that is in and of itself despicable. It’s that doing so acts in support of the very deep state and moneyed, military interests that The Intercept purports to critique “fearlessly.”

Adding to a sense of betrayal of The Intercept’s principles in the wake of the outlet’s hit-piece is the fact that a number of writers at the publication are by all accounts on good terms with Assange, and have worked with mutual supporters including the superb Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi. Maurizi collaborated with Wikileaks on the verification of documents for many years, and worked with Glenn Greenwald on preparation for the disclosure of the Snowden files.

Adding to the years of support Greenwald has shown Assange, the Wikileaks co-founder also sent Wikileaks’ own Sarah Harrison to the aid of Snowden after he was marooned in Hong Kong in 2013, an act which Stefania Maurizi revealed very likely cost the publisher his freedom.

After the publication of the Snowden files, the UK ceased any attempt to create a legal process by which Assange might have been safely freed, and in the same year pressured Sweden to continue its investigation after the country’s authorities expressed their intent to drop the matter. Likewise, in the wake of Assange’s actions towards Snowden, the Obama White House changed its stance from a reluctant acceptance that prosecution of WikiLeaks for publishing might not be possible given that US publishers had also published the same material.

Snowden’s revelations also provided much of the impetus for the launch of The Intercept as an outlet, after Glenn Greenwald departed from The Guardian. In this way, Assange’s story and his fate in the Ecuadorian embassy is inextricably linked with the origin of The Intercept’s rise on the back of the Snowden revelations.

Only a few months later, in October 2013 while Snowden was still stuck in a Moscow airport and out of reach of US authorities and The Intercept was gearing up for launch, the UK made it clear to the Swedish prosecutor that she should not drop her investigation and European Arrest Warrant for Assange, even though Sweden’s law on proportionality required her to do so.

In the wake of Snowden’s escape to Russia, Assange remained trapped in 30 square meters of an embassy and lost any hope that had existed earlier in 2013 that he would soon be released from that space, where we now know he cannot receive even the most basic medical care. Meanwhile, The Intercept has become what it set out to destroy.

The relationship between Assange and The intercept makes it impossible to see the organization’s publication of an intrinsically flawed smear piece aimed at Assange as anything other than a deep betrayal.

Which brings us inevitably to Pierre Omidyar. That the multi-billionaire Ebay founder despises Trump and would have preferred former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to assume the mantle of the Presidency is an understatement, but to focus only on his political outlook also misses the point of the larger issue facing The Intercept.

The billionaire’s incoherent vision of the First Amendment (disturbing for someone who funds journalistic endeavors) aside, the nature of The Intercept’s fatal catch-22 would remain if Omidyar woke up tomorrow to become a MAGA-hat wearing, NRA-supporting conservative. That is, a media outlet cannot perform as an ‘independent and adversarial’ entity when it is birthed within and nurtured by the very establishment it must confront.

When USA Today reported that Omidyar would contribute $250 million to pursue “independent journalism,” a genetic malfunction was written into the Intercept’s DNA. One cannot operate in an adversarial manner when one is supported directly by the same moneyed interests that require the most scrutiny and transparency of all.

That the magnate’s influence would seep, tide-like, into the reporting and editorial decisions of The Intercept seems difficult to ignore, but it is that inevitable creep itself and not the flavor of his beliefs which makes the situation so damning for The Intercept.

I’ve previously written at length in an effort to describe the chilling uniformity that ultimately pervades the plutocratic class. Being a billionaire makes Pierre Omidyar much more like one of the Koch Brothers than any liberal without access to the same magnitude of wealth and influence in the US political sphere. The fact that wealth translates to political influence was described in a Princeton University study, indicating that the United States operates as a plutocracy. In that light, it is the wealth that binds Omidyar, the Kochs and their ilk, as opposed to political outlook.

When Omidyar made use of Citizens’ United to supply an anti-Trump super PAC with $100,000 in 2016, it’s not the flavor of the political activism that he bought – it’s that he bought it at all. Omidyar is a power-player within the same corrupt establishment that WikiLeaks and The Intercept – in principle – aim to critique regularly.

Omidyar has also provided funds to the Clinton Foundation. As indicated by Wikileaks via Twitter, the Freedom Of The Press Foundation recently made the controversial decision to terminate processing of Wikileaks donations. The move represented an end to the role that was a central cause for the Foundation’s creation, according to a statement by Assange.

Ironically, the initial financial blockade that made the Freedom Of The Press necessary was in part initiated by Paypal, which was a spin-off from Ebay, a company that Omidyar founded. Omidyar served on the board of the company until last year.

Sarah Harisson expressed the conflict of interest that Omidyar’s involvement with The Intercept  represents to German Press, saying: ” How can you take something seriously when the person behind this platform went along with the financial boycott against WikiLeaks?”

Here lies the gulf between an adversarial organization like WikiLeaks and a news outlet that purports to be fearless while subsisting on the payroll of a member of the plutocratic elite.

The issue here goes beyond Omidyar’s politics and the petty, obsessively personal derangement of The Intercept’s Micah Lee towards Julian Assange. The crux of the terminal illness suffered by The Intercept is that it cannot stand as an outlet that wishes to both participate in adversarial, anti-establishment reporting while it also relies on the funds of a billionaire – any billionaire.

The rough beast born of the marriage between Omidyar’s funds and the yearning for freedom that surrounded the release of the Snowden Files cannot help but spiral towards its inevitable fate.

At The Intercept, the center cannot hold in the widening gyre between its best journalists and its worst impulses.

Comments

TeethVillage88s Sun, 02/18/2018 - 17:49 Permalink

Where is WB7 photo of Bernanke Drunk in a Bar getting Belligerent about the prospects of the Economy.  Probably could do that for the publisher of the Intercept, PropOrNot, and The Atlantic Foundation... Maybe Clinton/DNC Lawyer & DWS.

apberusdisvet Sun, 02/18/2018 - 19:30 Permalink

I don't always agree with Greenwald, but I like his style of writing and his seeming willingness to hold nothing back in his reportage.  It is certainly unfortunate that one of the best global investigative reporters has apparently been bought and paid for by the 1%.  Shame on you Glenn.

MrSteve Sun, 02/18/2018 - 20:37 Permalink

The political use of (in)justice in Sweden and NotGreat Britan to prosecute deep state grudges is just like Obama's IRS nailing Tea Party applications to the toilet floor and the whole debasing of the FBI. These are all systemic abuses of power in alleged or so-called democracies. Where are there any checks or balances? Not in any national press disclosures.

GreatUncle lew1024 Mon, 02/19/2018 - 05:20 Permalink

When democracy / voting rights as a form of choice selection is removed and destroyed.

TREAT EVERYONE AS THE ENEMY UNTIL IT CAN BE PROVEN OTHERWISE.

So no concensus of opinion to issue orders or protect those that took it over to control a population.

Wether they are CIA / NSA is to miss the point of a stranger through some self endowed right telling you what to do with no concensus backing.

In reply to by lew1024

Schooey Sun, 02/18/2018 - 21:30 Permalink

Intercept has been starting to look more and more like digital toilet paper, almost as bad a Solon, since Trump won. 

I would really like to see Greenwald join Consortium. He needs to be with the adults not the journalisstitute hacks like Naomi Klein and Bod Macky etc. 

Thom Paine Sun, 02/18/2018 - 22:43 Permalink

The thing with Assange is that nobody believes the UK govt, the corrupt UK judiciary, or trusts the USA, FBI, CIA in this matter - at all.

Everybody knows the UK judge made a Political judgment, not one based on law.

And listening to the ranting of the judge should see them removed for obvious personal bias.

The UK Judiciary not even bothering to cover up their ethical corruption now.

AND of course the UK Parliament is and has been totally corrupt for a very long time, not to mention the pedophiles therein for many decades.

GreatUncle Thom Paine Mon, 02/19/2018 - 05:24 Permalink

Well I think we need two new referendums in the UK now.

1.) A free vote on if Assange should be free from UK prosecution or not.

2.) A free vote on Soros not being British and interfering in the UK electoral process be removed from the country at a minimum or jailed.

This is to start to let the population determine the future UK society away from the corrupt parliament.

Hence why referendums are denied.

The internet actually allowed this to be done very easily a pernamently switched on communication system and no more private ballots and 100% inclusive so no more fraud you can check how you voted.

In reply to by Thom Paine

heretical GreatUncle Mon, 02/19/2018 - 07:06 Permalink

You'd think a writer would know the difference between 'principal' and 'principle.'

Re. the referenda issue, it depends on who is allowed to participate. Irish Savant (http://irishsavant.blogspot.co.uk/) quotes this study:
https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/jul/11/women-know-less-p…

The issue is given full treatment in 'Delusions of Democracy' here:
http://www.heretical.com/sgs-2014/delusion.html

Hope these are of interest.

In reply to by GreatUncle

francis scott … Mon, 02/19/2018 - 00:30 Permalink

I confess I don't know much about how the English Parliamentary system.

Is anyone actually interested in knowing about how the government of an empire

which has been in decline for most of 5 centuries, and now is finally circling the drain into history's

sewer, works?

 

But if Assange is to be freed from the tyranny of the English lickspittles, who are so desperately

beholden to the royalty in the US DoS, it seems to me that his freedom must begin in the House of

Lords.

 

For some reason I'm under the impression that that nest of dove tonsils have the ability to overturn

the English Courts and the wishes of female Prime Ministers.

 

If anybody here knows anything about the House of Lords, let me know.   

 

(FAT CHANCE) 

ZIRPdiggler francis scott … Mon, 02/19/2018 - 03:49 Permalink

The Queen is still The Queen with regard to domain over the U.S. and Canada.  Don't tell any American citizen that though because they won't believe you.....even though every single one of us was sold into bondage from birth, to the United States Corporation, in exchange for our future productivity....incidentally, this transfer was executed via our birth certificate, the day our parent's signed it.....social contracts are the prison bars of the matrix, bitchezzzz

In reply to by francis scott …

GreatUncle francis scott … Mon, 02/19/2018 - 05:34 Permalink

Fuck the House of Lords, it is an appointee system of bullshit who suck up to the wealthy masters above.

The only one that needs to determine the outcome for Assange is the House of Commons as they have all the lawmaking powers of the people and all elected. The Law lords, supposed to guide parliament but are supposed to do parliaments bidding that Blair decided to call the supreme court to try and remove the judicial power from parliament.

The problem in the UK is these politicians are now neutered 95% BREMAIN who have sold out their population so (FAT CHANCE) would be right to get anything done by them.

No judicial court in the land is above the UK parliament and why they are called lawmakers. Hell the UK parliament can reintroduce the death penalty for Assange if it chooses and only a vote by them is needed to make it so. To go to war in Iraq this house of 650 lawmakers voted to do so based on a dodgy dossier and the deal was done. This dossier one of the lawmakers Jack Straw buried in the official secrets act because it was deemed to damaging says it all. Since then they have been removing and destroying loads of documents thinking this will protect them ...

All a fucking con when they are now all puppet politicians no longer representing the population at all.

UK is now officially taxation without representation ... even worse we are paying taxes to a foreign power when they informally ceded sovereignty. This would be like US taxes being handed over to Russia / China.

 

In reply to by francis scott …

Setarcos GreatUncle Mon, 02/19/2018 - 10:14 Permalink

Politicians have never "represented the people".  Things were more realistic a century or so ago, before the lumpen proletariat was allowed to vote.  In the US, just like in Britain during the 18th and 19th Centuries, only male landowners got to vote - the last thing George Washington & Co were, were democrats and all the flowery rhetoric about "freedom" in both the US and Britain only applied to the very wealthy. 

Tell me what has changed, except superficially, since "democracy" was allowed.  The permanent gross disparity was masked by widespread relative affluence after WW2, but that brief (historically) period of about 50 years has been in decline since the 1980s, so as to now expose the permanent fact that "the masses" never have had a say.  The Founding (very English) Oligarchs were no different than the oligarchs of today.  I think it was Mark Twain who said something like,  "If voting made any difference, then it would be illegal." 

Whoever it was, women still hadn't got to vote, but early (and later) feminists claimed that when women got the vote, things would be different and better.  In fact things have gotten steadily worse, especially since the 1960s and "in your face" feminism.  In fact everything that matters is still owned by a wealthy elite, including the best looking women usually.  I never used to think this way.  At 74 I still have vestiges of my former idealism - not least about women - but reality bites, hard. (Btw I am not blaming women, just sayin'.  Quite a few women I know now regret feminism.)

Disclaimer (of sorts):  I was born in England and know a thing or six about "Great Britain", likewise about Australia, where I have been since 1971, and more recently the US ... having been virtually forced to assess the USA during the Vietnam War, but pretty intensely since 9/11 and "war without end" with no legitimate pretext, unless deliberate chaos is legitimate in favour of the ruling elites, such as Rothschild & Co..

In reply to by GreatUncle

otschelnik Mon, 02/19/2018 - 01:36 Permalink

When The Intercept first appeared we had hoped that somebody escaped from the paradox of big money and independent journalism.  Greenwald and Scarhill are excellent journalists whatever their views but the Assange hit piece was disgusting.    I wonder who is leaning on Silverstein and Omidyar....  and what for? 

Jung Mon, 02/19/2018 - 02:38 Permalink

A billionaire Jew called Silverstein as sponsor? How stupid can you get: as if he is going to deviate from the Zionist kabal and their ideas of how things should be. Honest and independent journalism: oh yeah, let's hire the same type as those own the whole of the MSM in the US!

BetterRalph Mon, 02/19/2018 - 03:05 Permalink

I see, so the SARS law to stop people walking around with more than $10,000 doesn't work to stop domestic terrorism at all then, it only screws Americans too stupid to know about the bad broken not working lawless law. 

ZIRPdiggler Mon, 02/19/2018 - 03:39 Permalink

Fuck all these corporate Hitlary loving aristocrats. Fuck Ebay. Time for everyone to stop paying taxes. Time for everyone to quit patronizing these douchebags by using their wares. Time for us to build a parallel society as we abandon these bloated billionaires dirtbags, who want us all dead anyways.

Honest Sam ZIRPdiggler Mon, 02/19/2018 - 12:59 Permalink

Yer delusional.  When Withholding of Income taxes from paychecks was made law, in effect turning corporations and other businesses into collection agents for the Federal, State and local governments. your opportunity to 'stop paying taxes' was neutered, its nuts cut off.

Nearly 75%or more of taxes are outside of your control.

 

 

In reply to by ZIRPdiggler

Setarcos Mon, 02/19/2018 - 10:28 Permalink

Snowden has also rubbished Assange.  I never liked Snowden ... something not quite right about him ... cold, aloof and arrogant I thought.  Now Q Anon has exposed him as one of the "clowns", i.e. CIA.  Makes sense to me.  I wonder what Putin will do about him, I'm sure that he has never been trusted, but what to do when he just turned up in Moscow.  No way could he have left Hong Kong without "permission" from the deep state ... and I don't mean whatever that amounts to in Beijing.  Hong Kong is still quasi "British Empire", thus MI6 and the CIA are bound to be present.

Solio Mon, 02/19/2018 - 11:13 Permalink

If you want the truth then you can not follow the Big Money, murderers, pedophiles, traitors, inbreds, or religionistas words, or their paid agents. They all have much to hide.

The Truth is elsewhere.

bh2 Mon, 02/19/2018 - 12:58 Permalink

Why Greenwald hasn't walked remains a mystery.

Not only is he the only rational voice on The Intercept, but if there is a God, he should receive a Pulitzer.

If he does walk, The Intercept will be over. Only people with extreme TDS even bother to read the rest. 

Alananda Mon, 02/19/2018 - 15:39 Permalink

Perhaps we should ask Jim Stone his opinion.  Who was that buxom broad who brought JA lunch one day?  Pamela Anderson, carrying a book whose title beamed forth for photographers remarkably on hand for her arrival.  The black limousine pulled up later that night, then disappeared into the pages of unwritten history.  JA seems dead to the world.  Like Hillary, JA has a double or two, ready to go!  Long live JA.