Can anyone just sit down and have a conversation in front of a camera without huffing away angrily nowadays? Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, hot off a classified document dump that he claims show upwards of 100,000 civilian deaths in Iraq, had his own Whoopi Goldberg moment and strutted off the set of a CNN interview when confronted with questions about his late summer sexual molestation charges.
The conversation appeared to be going pleasantly enough when discussing the files themselves and the impact Assange believes they will have on the American military operation in the Middle East. He even seems close to comfortable discussing the “personality” issues around which rumors that Wikileaks’ infrastructure is crumbling have circulated. He traced those rumors back to former spokesman Daniel Schmitt, saying that his dismissal was “not a very interesting issue”: “We’re an organization. An organization has employees, and when they misbehave they get suspended… some employees, when they get suspended, are not happy about it.”
Even when answering whether he would step aside for the best interests of Wikileaks itself, he was steadfast in refusing to do so but calm in his rapport with interviewer Atika Shubert. It was when she brought up the molestation charges against him in Sweden and asked whether he denied them that he soured, warning that “this interview is about something else” and he “will have to walk off… if you are going to contaminate this extremely serious interview with questions about my personal life.” She persisted in asking whether he denied the charges, and he apologized and took his leave.
His dramatic walkout, of course, will now eclipse anything he said in the interview about the documents Wikileaks released yesterday, when a simple but vague answer on the Swedish charges seem like they would have done the trick and calmed his interviewer down. It will also do little to clear the air about those pesky “personality issues” that seem to have arisen within the organization. In other words, it was precisely the unforced error his detractors were hoping for and, given the amount of research they’ve done on him, probably expecting. And then there’s the obvious intellect behind the success of the organization that is permitted to speak when Assange’s ego is undisturbed, on display at the beginning of the interview, below. Moral qualms about Assange’s work aside, Wikileaks is certainly not the product of a slow thinker:
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