Bill Keller, the former executive editor of the New York Times who partnered with Jullan Assange on several major WikiLeaks releases, has written another anti-Assange column for today’s Times. The two men have been feuding for about eighteen months now—going back to Keller’s shocking Julian-wears-dirty-socks revelations—and every time it dies now, Bill writes another blast. Maybe he couldn’t handle Assange’s guest spot on The Simpsons’ celebrated 500th episode last night.
Today’s column offers some justified criticism of Assange, albeit nothing new or original. I’ve offered my own criticism in the past and certainly Assange has increasingly become a soft target. But Keller, too, has been criticized and mocked by many for his assaults on Assange.
And there’s plenty of that today in response to his new column. Longtime Keller critic Glenn Greenwald, for example, tweeted, “Trying hard to ignore the typically sneering, typically banal Bill Keller column on WikiLeaks—prospects for success: quite low.”
The official WikiLeaks feed on Twitter weighed in: “The only explanation for Bill Keller’s bizarre attacks on Wikileaks, his former benefactor, is fear. The question is, of what?”
Leave it to Gawker to point out that while Keller disses Assange for watching his “autobiography” fall to a ranking of a lowly 1,288,313 at Amazon, he fails to note that the Times’s own WikiLeaks book presently sits at No. 2,539,088. Marcy Wheeler pointed out: "Bill Keller Blames Leak Arrests that Preceded WikiLeaks on WikiLeaks."
I weighed in myself via Twitter early this morning, noting his ingenuous wish that he might one day make a little money off WikiLeaks—ignoring the fact that he already has a film option contract (typically in such cases the author gets a few thousand, or tens of thousands, out front, with much more later if the film gets made). I also poked fun at Keller’s mentioning his wife’s genius suggestion that Tilda Swinton play Assange in the movie—something that, oh, a thousand others, including myself, proposed at the very start.
Keller even airs more dirty laundry against Assange—this time, “underwear.”
Then there’s the matter of Keller bragging about that twenty-seven-course meal and private tour of the Prado in Madrid as a payoff for speaking on a WikiLeaks panel there. I suggested that he write a piece for the Times Dining section, contrasted with a story on Bradley Manning’s prison grub. Keller mentions the US grand jury going after Assange but fails to offer any criticism of this move on his former dancing partner. He also claims that Assange faces “charges” in Sweden, which is not yet true.