Wire Service Dutifully Writes Down Ecuadorean Government’s Claims About the Assange Affair

Picture: VitaliVVitaliV (CC)

From Reuters:

The Ecuadorean government shares Assange’s fears that he ultimately could be extradited to the United States, which is angry that his WikiLeaks website has leaked hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic and military cables.

The leftist Correa, who has high popularity levels and is expected to run for re-election in February 2013, had developed some rapport with Assange during an online interview the WikiLeaks founder did with him this year [for the Russian Government’s English Language answer to propaganda outlet Radio Free Europe, Russia Today].

Correa’s stance has been largely cheered by Ecuadoreans, and there have been scattered protests at the British Embassy.

“The whole world should back Ecuador for giving Assange asylum and because this country is the first one to promote freedom of expression,” said Mary Valenzuela, a 39-year-old restaurant owner.

Emphasis on credulousness added.

The UK’s Independent does a slightly better job pulling apart the Cameron government’s attempts to backpedal for its inept chief diplomat:

At least one of the lawyers at the Foreign Office (FCO) expressed concern over the warning that Britain could use the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987 to “storm” the embassy building and remove Assange, who faces sex crime allegations in Sweden. A senior Whitehall source said yesterday that staff feared the move could provoke retaliatory attacks against British embassies overseas.
. . .
Although the [UK] Government has claimed the reference to the 1987 Act was not a threat, the note sparked a furious response around the world. Ecuador has already convened a special meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS) this Friday to discuss “the inviolability of the diplomatic premises of Ecuador in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in accordance with international law”.

Emphasis on proper journalistic notation of source opinions added.

The comparison is illuminating. Whereas the Reuters stringer parrots official opinions and spin as the wire service’s own, thereby giving it an air of greater legitimacy, the Independent actually bothers to tell the reader who it is that made the various opinions and interpretations offered so as to allow readers to assess the credibility of the various sources cited. As a result, the Independent’s article is journalism as opposed to the mere distribution of government press releases. Disinfo readers may recall how Reuters and almost all other news organizations pulled a similar sleepwalking act a few years ago. In that case, a team of stenographers in the US and UK billing itself as the international free press clambered over eachother to be the first to inform the public about weapons of mass destruction and yellow cake uranium in Iraq and Saddam Hussein’s connections to Osama bin Laden. And we all remember how accurate all of that turned out to be.

So UK Foreign Secretary William Hague need not worry. No doubt eventually Reuters or the AP will get around to writing down verbatim Whitehall’s spin on this fiasco as well. Whether, however, any journalist will ever bother to point out that there is an extant extradition treaty between the UK and the US that is highly favorable to the United States—certainly stronger than the treaty with Sweden—remains to be seen. Stay tuned…

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  • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

    it’s always prudent to assume that there is spin on every “news” story
    regardless of the source

    but I hope the Brits storm the Ecuadorian Embassy
    because there are lot of places that would like to storm the Brits’ embassy
    and they’re looking for a strong precedent

  • discusthrower

    please do not start that “stay tuned” crap up… ‘sounds like Chicken McNugget wants to get into my pants or somefing….

    • Matt Staggs

       Show me on this doll where Chicken McNugget touched you.

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