High profile journalists have been jabbering about whether or not Julian Assange is really one of them. If “journalist” is understood to mean “propagandist for the ruling class,” then he most certainly is not.
However, if we go by the more common, less restrictive definitions, anyone who compiles and transmits information to a willing audience is a journalist. Some are good, most are awful, even evil, but Julian Assange is historic. Saying he’s not a journalist is like saying Charles Darwin wasn’t a biologist, Albert Einstein wasn’t a physicist, LeBron James can’t play basketball, and by the way, Galileo was wrong. The earth’s flat after all and we’re the center of the universe.
Assange is a genius who could have joined the club of tech billionaires, but instead he looked at global injustice with the mind of a systems analyst, then founded Wikileaks and the transparency movement. They put corporations and government, including the Pentagon, the FBI, the CIA, and all the other intel agencies on notice that they could no longer count on operating in secret. State and corporate scandals had been uncovered before, but there had never been anything like Wikileaks. It guaranteed sources anonymity if they used its dropbox secure technology, and it has never busted a source. It has published well over 10 million documents and never had to retract even one. Its decentralized technical infrastructure protects it from attack, and that strikes terror in the twisted psyches of Mike Pompeo and his inner circle of spies, murderers, and thieves without borders. If a global movement can free Julian Assange, with the full force of the national security state coming at him, it’ll be a game changer, perhaps even as historic as Wikileaks itself.
On the other hand, prosecuting and convicting Assange for the crime of possessing and publishing classified material would establish a precedent for convicting any journalist, media outlet, or citizen who publishes, republishes, cites, quotes, or even tweets classified material. There’s a growing list of classified Wikileaks that I could go to prison for quoting even though they’re not the ones that have shocked the world like the “Collateral Murder” video of US soldiers shooting Iraqi civilians from an Apache Helicopter as though they were playing video games.