State Department 'Planted' Anti-Wikileaks Questions For 60 Minutes Interview With Julian Assange

by Mike Masnick
Oct. 02, 2015

The latest batch of Hillary Clinton emails have been revealed, and Trevor Timm, the Executive Director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, points us to a particularly interesting one, in which then State Department spokesperson PJ Crowley tells Clinton that the State Department has successfully "planted" questions for the show, 60 Minutes, to ask Assange.

Indeed, if you watch the interview, the reporter, Steve Kroft, regularly repeats State Department talking points -- often prefaced with the sort of weak journalistic hedging "there are people who believe..."

Of course, this is not the first time 60 Minutes has been seen to be extra deferential to the government. You may recall the program's infomercial for the NSA, done by a guy who immediately went to work for law enforcement week's later.

And, while Kroft seems to want to present the supposed legal case against Assange to Assange, it's worth remembering that five years later and the DOJ still has not charged Assange with any crime, though apparently the grand jury investigation is still ongoing.

It also seems noteworthy that Crowley resigned from the State Department just a few weeks after this email, right after he publicly criticized the treatment of Chelsea Manning, who was being held in solitary confinement for leaking the State Department's documents to Wikileaks. Crowley publicly said that such treatment was "ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid" -- and within days, he no longer had a job.

None of this is to say that 60 Minutes or any other journalism program shouldn't be asking tough questions of Julian Assange or anyone else they interview. Of course they should. But the very idea that the government is "planting" one-sided or misleading and biased questions with journalists, to pin on a guy they're trying (and failing) to charge with criminal activity for embarrassing those in power, certainly seems pretty sketchy. The media is supposed to be questioning those in power, not to be used as a tool by those in power to question those who are actually exposing corruption.

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