Wikileaks founder Julian Assange walked out of an interview at CNN when the interviewer refused to change subjects away from recent allegations that Assange raped a woman in Sweden (WashingtonPost.com). Assange contends that what these allegations amount to are conspiracies against him and his corporation because of the whistle-blower work his organization does (ABC.com).
Two questions remain: Does it matter for his company and his company’s work whether or not the allegations are true, and is it coincidence that these allegations come at this point in time?
Does it Matter?
Was the CNN interviewer justified in asking Julian Assange about the rape allegations? To some degree, yes. She is a reporter, this is a big story, and he is the alleged perpetrator of the allegation. However, as Assange mentioned in that interview, it doesn’t matter what his personal life is when it comes to the company he runs. Unlike politicians and other public figures, CEOs generally are not required to have flawless private lives to do their work.
Because of that, it should not matter whether or not Julian Assange raped a woman in Sweden. In terms of the interview, Assange was correct in telling the interviewer that he was not going to answer such questions.
It is highly unlikely that such allegations of rape happened purely coincidentally in line with Wikileaks leaking some 400,000 documents that suggest 15,000 more Iraqi civilians died in the Iraq War than the U.S. government reported.
According to the video from Good Morning America via ABC.com, the allegations against Assange were, for the most part, lacking sufficient evidence. With a lack of evidence and a strong suggestion of malicious reasons for said rape allegations, it is difficult not to see these allegations as politically motivated. Does this mean the allegations are unsubstantiated? Not at all. What this means is that the timing and reasoning for the release of these allegations are highly suspect.
Make Your Opponent Deny
It does not matter how horrible or outrageous the allegations against a public figure are. What matters is the allegation. By forcing your opponent to deny the allegations, you are forcing your opponent to talk about the issue. Forcing your opponent to talk about the issue keeps the issue alive and glues your opponent’s face and voice to the allegations.
Julian Assange did not balk when CNN attempted to force his hand. Assange sounded and acted like an arrogant CEO when he apparently tried to manipulate the interviewer, but he acted in the best way possible in terms of political positioning.
I am usually first to roll my eyes when someone claims government conspiracies against them. However, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is probably correct in shooting back the allegation that these rape allegations are some form of attempt at silencing his organization or drowning out the sound of the most recent Wikileaks leak.
Melissa Bell, Julian Assange, Wikileaks Founder, Walks out of CNN Interview, WashingtonPost.com
Russell Goldman, Wikileaks: At Least 109,000 Killed During Iraq War, ABC.com
Good Morning America video via ABC.com