Accuracy in Media

Now that Julian Assange has been arrested, President Trump takes a different view of WikiLeaks, according to a story Friday by the Associated Press.

“‘I know nothing’ – Trump changes his tune on Wikileaks,” reads the headline on the news story for the wire service media outlets small and large across the country depend on for unbiased straight news accounts.

“It was a far cry from ‘I love WikiLeaks!,’” wrote Jonathan Lemire and Eric Tucker in the lead.

“President Donald Trump declared that ‘I know nothing about WikiLeaks’ after its disheveled founder Julian Assange was hauled out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to face charges, a stark contrast to how candidate Trump showered praise on Assange’s hacking organization night after night during the final weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign.”

Tucker and Lemire related Trump’s official quote on the arrest of Assange and the fact he has been charged in the United States with helping Bradley Manning steal and publish secret documents from the U.S. military.

“It’s not my thing,” Trump said. “I know there is something having to do with Julian Assange. I’ve been seeing what’s happened with Assange and that will be a determination, I would imagine, mostly by the attorney general, who’s doing an excellent job. So he’ll be making a determination. I know nothing really about him. It’s not my deal in life.”

Tucker and Lemire then wrote: “But WikiLeaks was Trump’s deal in 2016 as he welcomed the political boost his campaign got and cheered on the release of Clinton campaign emails.”

The AP reporters pointed out that on the same day in October 2016 that the “Access Hollywood” tape emerged, “revealing that Trump had bragged in 2005 about groping women, WikiLeaks began releasing damaging emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta,” implying, without evidence, the two events may be linked.

Then, they seemed to credit WikiLeaks with Trump’s victory, saying, “Trump and his allies, facing a tough battle in the campaign’s final month, seized on the illegal dumps and weaponized them.”

It then unfurled three quotes from Trump on the campaign trail.

“WikiLeaks. I love WikiLeaks,” was one. “This WikiLeaks is like a treasure trove,” said another. “Boy, I love reading WikiLeaks,” said another.

“All told, Trump extolled WikiLeaks more than 100 times, and a poster of Assange hung backstage at the Republican’s debate war room,” Tucker and Lemire wrote. There is no evidence Trump had such a poster, and there is no source provided by the AP for this claim.

Further, they wrote, “At no point from a rally stage did Trump express any misgivings about how WikiLeaks obtained the emails from the Clinton campaign or about the accusations of stealing sensitive U.S. government information, which led to the charges against Assange on Thursday.”

This is untrue. Assange is not charged with anything to do with Hillary Clinton or Democrat Party emails. He is charged only with working with Manning to publicize secret military documents. Moreover, Manning was ordered jailed last month for refusing to testify before a grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia federal court, and he faces just one U.S. charge.

Yet, AP wrote: “It was unclear why the Assange charge, which was brought under seal last year, was made public at this time and why he as taken into custody now – weeks after Mueller’s investigation had concluded,” again implying the Assange charges do somehow relate to the Mueller investigation and could in the future provide grounds for prosecuting the president.

In another paragraph, it states Assange “was an important figure in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe,” even though it admits “there was no allegation that the organization solicited the hacking of Democratic email accounts of worked with Russians.”

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