By Hamilton Nolan – Feb 20, 2012
Former New York Times editor Bill Keller has spent the past year pursuing a weird personal crusade against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. He continues, weirdly, and to the detriment of his own reputation. Likewise, we shall continue our crusade against Bill Keller, until all of the world’s readers have abandoned both of us, and we are merely talking to one another, like the cranks that we all are.
Here’s the thing, okay: Bill Keller until recently held what is arguably the most powerful editorial position in journalism. In the world. Now he is a New York Times columnist, which is still a pretty powerful platform. If you’re going to launch a crusade against something, at least make it something worthwhile. I mean, Nick Kristof bores the shit out of me, but at least he’s fighting sex trafficking and genocide in the process. Bill Keller also bores the shit out of me, and all he does is rant grumpily about various people on the internet who annoy him personally.
Not a good use of your platform, Bill Keller.
There’s nothing wrong with discussing Wikileaks and its implications, or in pointing out Julian Assange’s flaws. But Bill Keller is under the misguided impression that Julian Assange’s overarching flaw, importance, and characteristic is that he gets on Bill Keller’s nerves. Keller’s bit NYT Magazine cover story on Assange last year was not about Wikileaks per se; it was about “Dealing With Julian Assange and His Secrets.” That is, it was about why Julian Assange got on Bill Keller’s nerves. The story the world was waiting for.
And today, more than a year later: a new Bill Keller column about why Julian Assange gets on his nerves! It’s 1,300 words long. Read it all here. Or, just read our Cliff’s Notes version: “I still have a weirdly high level of personal animosity against Julian Assange. I am operating on the assumption that my readers care greatly about this fact.” Among the zingers:
[Assange] compiled many hours of interviews for an autobiography, then backed out of the project, but his publisher – in the proper anarchist spirit of WikiLeaks – published it over his objections. (Evidently not for profit. It is No. 1,288,313 on the Amazon list of best-selling titles.)
The NYT’s own book about Wikileaks—with an introduction by Bill Keller—is No. 2,539,087 on the Amazon list of best-selling titles. Maybe we should all find something new to write about.
[NYT. Photo: Getty]