WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will soon launch his show “The World Tomorrow” on Russia Today. DW spoke with Professor Richard Keeble of the Lincoln School of Journalism in the UK, about the debut episode.
DW: In the first episode of Assange’s new talk show he interviews Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Lebanon-based terror organization Hezbollah. Do you see this as an attempt to stir controversy?
Richard Keeble: He may well have been wanting to spark controversy, and why not? I think attempts to expose the consensus of the media coverage on international political affairs are necessary and I guess in this way he has gone for a very controversial figure. Inevitably there is some controversy, but by simply challenging in a radical way the dominant consensus, you are going to be controversial.
When asked why he chose Russia Today as a platform for his show, Assange said that no other broadcasters wanted him: Do you think this is because he is wanted by international authorities or because his guests would be controversial like Nasrallah?
Obviously Assange himself is very much a controversial figure – he is wanted by various authorities around the world – but I think the function he is continuing to play is absolutely vital. I think the role of WikiLeaks in exposing the secrecy, the duplicity and the lying of the leaders around the world has been absolutely vital, and it’s obvious that mainstream media around the world are very, very closely integrated with the dominant institutions in their countries. A man like Assange has bravely challenged the consensus and the overall approach of the mainstream media – he was drawn into their sphere for a while, now he has been largely dumped. I think all power to Assange.
Would you say that the “World Tomorrow” is something that journalism needs?
It seems to me the role the internet is now playing in providing diversity and alternative perspectives and radical perspectives is absolutely vital in order to understand such things as American imperialism, global finance, etc. You really need to go to the alternative media for some element of reality. For instance, if I wanted to understand what is going on in the world, I wouldn’t go to the New York Times or The Guardian; I would go to websites like tomdispatch.com, or counterpunch; I’d go to journalists like Pepe Escobar for coverage on the global war on terror; I would go to a journal like Peace News. These outlets it seems to me are providing the right kind of information and perspectives that help me understand international contemporary politics and expose the lies and mythologies on which the dominant political activities are based.
If I’ve understood you correctly, you see Assange as a kind of trail blazer…
He’s not alone, all around the world there are people bravely challenging dominant media institutions – we call them ‘rogue reporters’ or citizen journalists, alternative journalists etc. This is a terrific moment for journalism. Obviously, the states around the world have been given, via the internet, extraordinary powers to actually survey the alternative, the radical dissident scene. We have to move beyond this and say: It’s already happening, but we still have to exploit the contradictions in the system to expose the lies and the secrecy on which the establishment is based.
Interview: Gabriel Borrud / jw
Editor: Joanna Impey