Where’s WikiLeaks’ Iraq Data Dump?

New Media Days/<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/newmediadaysdk/4131068334/">Peter Erichsen</a>

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Didn’t WikiLeaks promise us a dump of hundreds of thousands of classified Iraq War data today? Not according to the site’s shadowy editor in chief. On his Twitter account this morning, Julian Assange took some potshots at the mainstream media for hyping a secret-document bonanza that ain’t happening. (He also trumpeted a claim that WikiLeaks could have prevented 9/11. So they’ve got that going for them.) Assange’s rant:

Where do all these claims about WikiLeaks doing something on Iraq today (Monday) come from? A single tabloid blog at Wired Magazine!

That’s right. Over 700 articles, newspapers all over the world, and newswires fooled by a tabloid blog–and each other.

Of course you won’t see this blog cited, generally, in the mainstream press articles, because that would lessen the credibility of these articles back to where the belong — unsubstantiated, and indeed, false claims made by a source that is not credible. What is journalism coming to?

But, Wired’s blog is not just any source that lacks credibility. It is a known opponent and spreader of all sorts of misinformation about WikiLeaks…

Now, I’ll try not to quibble too much with Assange’s fundamental misunderstanding of media terms (a tabloid is a style of printed newspaper, man, not a blog). And I’ll just ignore for now the irony of a guy who advocates information democracy totally trashing a viral story, and denouncing Wired‘s Threat Level and Danger Room blogs as “mainstream media.” (OK, they are owned by Conde Nast. But Seymour Hersh, that guy who uncovered that My Lai thingy and the Abu Ghraib dealy, writes for the Conde-owned The New Yorker, and I wouldn’t quite call him mainstream.)

Assange would have you believe that he’s never hyped his group’s leaks in advance (um, “Collateral Murder,” anyone?), and he also wants you to believe this is a Wired-based vendetta.

Riiight.

Just spitballing here—we’ll report the story out as it develops—but here are a few possible reasons why we heard a data dump was happening, and now it’s not:

  • Assange and his clan are taking care with the Iraq documents so as not to endanger sources, or make the government’s case against the suspected leaker, Pfc. Bradley Manning. The may even be working with the US government to scrub the files of hazardous info.
  • They planned a leak, but their site got jammed. (It’s down for “scheduled maintenance” at the moment.)
  • Their preferred media collaborators—the New York Times, the Guardian, and Der Spiegel—want more time to research the goods.

In any case, while we wait for new developments, check out Spencer Ackerman’s WikiLeaks work at Danger Room—he’s been all over this issue like a pit bull on rump roast, and his rundown of the likely contents is eerily astute for someone who’s never worked for Uncle Sam with a security clearance. And as you read, judge for yourself whether Wired has it out for WikiLeaks…or treats it like every other (capricious, testy, high-maintenance, semi-unreliable) source for breaking news.

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You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

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