CNN’s Amazing Dishonesty in Smearing Assange

The sheer volume of disinformation packed into this one article is jaw-dropping, writes Caitlin Johnstone.

Picture wall at CNN’s Atlanta headquarters. ( via Flickr)

By Caitlin Johnstone

CNN has published an unbelievably brazen and dishonest smear piece on Julian Assange, easily the most egregious article of its kind since the notoriously bogus Assange-Manafort report by The Guardian last year. It contains none of the “exclusive” documents that it claims substantiate its smears, relying solely on vague, unsubstantiated assertions and easily debunked lies to paint the WikiLeaks founder in a negative light.

And let’s be clear right off the bat, it is most certainly a smear piece. The article, titled “Exclusive: Security reports reveal how Assange turned an embassy into a command post for election meddling,” admits that it exists for the sole purpose of tarnishing Assange’s reputation when it reports, with no evidence whatsoever, that while at the Ecuadorian embassy Assange once “smeared feces on the walls out of anger.” Not “reportedly.” Not “the Ecuadorian government claims.” CNN reported it as a fact, as an event that is known to have happened. This is journalistic malpractice, and it isn’t an accident.

Whenever you see any “news” report citing this claim, you are witnessing a standard smear tactic of the plutocratic media. Whenever you see them citing this claim as a concrete, verified fact, you are witnessing an especially aggressive and deliberate psyop. The Ecuadorian embassy was heavily surveilled during Assange’s stay there, and the Ecuadorian government has leaked photos of Assange’s living quarters to the media in an attempt to paint him as a messy houseguest in need of eviction, so if the “feces on the walls” event had ever transpired you would have seen photos of it, whether you wanted to or not. It never happened.

“New documents obtained exclusively by CNN reveal that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange received in-person deliveries, potentially of hacked materials related to the 2016 US election, during a series of suspicious meetings at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London,” the article begins.

‘Potentially’ Hacked Materials

In its very first sentence the article invalidates all the claims which follow it, because its use of the word “potentially” means that none of the documents CNN purports to have contain any actual evidence. It’s worth noting at this time that there is to this day not one shred of publicly available evidence that any of the Democratic Party emails published by WikiLeaksin 2016 were in fact “hacked” at all, and could very well have been the result of a leak as asserted by former British ambassador Craig Murray, who claims to have inside knowledge on the matter.

Aaron Maté.

The glaring plot holes in the Mueller report’s assertions about Russia being the source of the 2016 WikiLeaks drops have already been ripped wide open by journalist Aaron Maté’s meticulous analysis of the report’s timeline in an article accurately titled CrowdStrikeOut: Mueller’s Own Report Undercuts Its Core Russia-Meddling Claims.” The CNN smear piece, which claims to “add a new dimension to the Mueller report,” is entirely relying on this porous timeline for its reporting. Plot holes include the fact that Mueller claims (and CNN repeats) that the Russians transferred the emails to WikiLeaks on or around July 14, which Maté notes is “a full month after Assange publicly announced that he had them.”

CNN kicks off its smear piece with the inflammatory claim that “Assange met with Russians and world-class hackers at critical moments,” mentioning both “Russians” and “hackers” in the same breath in an attempt to give the impression that the two are related. It’s not until paragraph 43 and 46, long after most people have stopped reading, that the authors bother to inform their readers that the “hackers” in question are German and have no established connection to Russia whatsoever. The “Russians” counted among Assange’s scores of visitors consist of RT staff, who have always consistently reported on WikiLeaks, and a “Russian national” about whom almost nothing is known. [Sputnik’s Loud & Clear radio show reports that one Russian visitor was Assange’s producer when he had a show on RT.]

The article falsely labels Assange a “hacker,”defamatory claim the mass media circulates whenever it wants to tarnish Assange’s reputation. Assange, of course, is a publisher. WikiLeaks publishes materials which are given to it, it doesn’t “hack” them.

Long-Debunked Lie 

CNN also repeats the long-debunked lie that RT “published articles detailing the new batches of emails before WikiLeaks officially released them” during the 2016 election, citing no evidence because this never happened. RT reported on a WikiLeaks release in October 2016 after it had been published by WikiLeaks but before the WikiLeaks Twitter account had tweeted about it, and Western propagandists willfully conflated WikiLeaks publications with tweets from the WikiLeaks Twitter account in order to make it look like RT had insider knowledge about the publications.

In reality, RT was simply watching the WikiLeaks site closely for new releases in order to get an early scoop before other outlets, because leaks of emails involving John Podesta, chair of the Hillary Clinton 2016 presidential campaign, had been dropping regularly.

“That is a LIE that’s been debunked over and over,” tweeted RT America editor Nebojša Malic in response to the smear. “We published ONE article about the emails that were RELEASED already, just not TWEETED about yet, because WikiLeaks had been releasing them like clockwork and we paid attention. It’s called journalism, they should try it sometime.”

“Yes that is fake news,” tweeted RT’s Ivor Crotty. “I was the editor on the team that monitored wikileaks and by Podesta 6 we knew they tweeted at 9am EST each day (1pm Dublin) — so we checked the database by reverse searching and discovered a new dump, tweeted about it, and the conspiracy theorists jumped.”

“RT already addressed this in 2016, convincingly if you read the sequence of events they lay out: the Podesta emails appeared on the WikiLeaks website before WikiLeaks sent a tweet about it,” Maté tweeted at CNN’s Marshall Cohen. “Ignoring that allows for the conspiracy theory you propose. It’s ridiculous to suggest that RT-Wikileaks ‘were coordinating behind the scenes’ based on the fact that RT tweeted about the Podesta emails AFTER they appeared on WL’s site, but BEFORE WL tweeted about them. You’re implicating RT in a conspiracy… for doing journalism.”

It’s not possible to research the “RT had advance knowledge of WikiLeaks drops” conspiracy theory without running across articles which debunked it at the time, so the article’s authors were likely either knowingly lying or taking dictation from someone who was.

“Spanish newspaper El Pais on July 9: Spanish security company spied on Julian Assange’s meetings with lawyers’. Add little security state propaganda and 6 days later you get from CNN: ‘How Julian Assange turned an embassy into command post for election meddling’,” noted Shadowproof managing editor Kevin Gosztola in response to the CNN smear, a reminder of how a little narrative tweaking can turn a story on its head in support of the powerful.

This would be the same CNN that told its viewers that it’s against the law to read WikiLeaks, with Democratic Party prince Chris Cuomo lying “Remember, it’s illegal to possess these stolen documents; it’s different for the media, so everything you learn about this you’re learning from us.” The same CNN that falsely reported that Assange is a pedophile not once, but twice. The same CNN that has been caught blatantly lying in its Russiagate coverage, which has had to fire journalists for misreporting Russiagate in a media environment where that almost never happens with Russia stories, which has deleted evidence of its journalistic malpractice regarding Russiagate from the internet without retraction or apology.

So this latest attempt to tarnish Julian Assange’s reputation from CNN is not surprising. Nor is it surprising that the article contains exactly zero of the “exclusive documents” which it says validate its claims and insinuations. Nor is it surprising that CNN is using invisible evidence which almost certainly came into its hands through a government agency to give weight to its smear. But the sheer volume of disinformation and deceit they were able to pack into one single article this time around was just jaw-dropping. Even for CNN.

Caitlin Johnstone is a rogue journalist, poet, and utopia prepper who publishes regularly at Medium. Follow her work on FacebookTwitter, or her website. She has a podcast and a new book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.” 

This article was re-published with permission.

51 comments for “CNN’s Amazing Dishonesty in Smearing Assange

  1. John
    July 21, 2019 at 13:02

    Reading Caitlin Johnstone complain about smears, exaggerations and unbacked claims is the irony of the day. Her writing is routinely chocked full of innuendo, misrepresentations and unsupported claims.

    • Clark M Shanahan
      July 21, 2019 at 22:59

      Your contention would be stronger had you given a half-dozen examples.
      Otherwise, it gives the impression that you really do not have a sincere intention to discuss the issue at hand.

      • Skip Scott
        July 22, 2019 at 01:46

        John is a troll, and most likely a paid one. He comes and goes, but his comments are always in support of the MSM narrative. And he never backs up anything with facts or logic.

    • Laualie
      July 23, 2019 at 22:24

      While I would agree about her tendency to innuendo, this piece steered we’ll clear and I commend her on it. Great piece.

  2. Esteleen
    July 20, 2019 at 19:17

    Wow! Fantastic piece.

  3. Jack Brown
    July 20, 2019 at 13:42

    Even if you don’t believe Russia interfered with the elections, you should be concerned with Wikileaks’ potential to be used by foreign parties to interfere with elections. Both Hillary and Trump have skeletons in their closet (like all politicians), but since Hillary had a strong stance against Russia, only her skeletons were dug up. If American presidential candidates have a negative stance against Russia’s interests, what is to stop Putin from using a service like Wikileaks to publish dirt against them? Unless you are a globalist, you shouldn’t want foreigners to have any influence in local elections. To Republicans: it will be harder for a guy like Ronald Regan, who was tough on Russia, to get elected with services like Wikileaks.

    • Desert Dave
      July 20, 2019 at 16:13

      The only flaw in your logic is that devil Putin could use any publisher to interfere with elections… there’s nothing special about Wikileaks. WaPo, NYTimes, CNN, etc. routinely influence elections on behalf of the deep state and corporations… does that not concern you?

  4. Steve Cohen, Esq
    July 20, 2019 at 07:56

    You have to be insane to believe this article. The evidence that is admissible under the Federal Rules of Evidence is overwhelming.

    The video tapes, the security companies hired by the ecuadorian government not to mention that the prior and current president have both stated that Assange engaged in illegal acts. Lets not forget the thousands of pages of documentary evidence.

    Assange acts were in fact criminal.

    • Clark M Shanahan
      July 21, 2019 at 23:04

      Please enlighten the reader, Steve
      Could you tell us why Mueller failed to interview Assange?

  5. Brian James
    July 19, 2019 at 11:19

    Jul 1, 2019 Democrat Calls On Tech Giants To Censor Conservatives Over Kamala Harris Debate

    Elizabeth Warren Calls On Big Tech To Censor Conservatives Over Kamala Harris Debate.

  6. Jill
    July 18, 2019 at 21:16

    It is being reported that Assange gave a hand written letter to the courts apologizing for skipping bail in the UK and that he is dropping his request to a hearing for the purpose of reducing his bail sentence. (This information has been verified by the courts but not as yet by his lawyers.)

    Torture was conceived as a way to achieve false confessions. In this respect, torture works.

    I hope someone is getting into that prison pronto to see how Assange is and there needs to be a medical doctor to assess torture. This needs to happen NOW.

    • Jill
      July 19, 2019 at 11:10

      I just want to add that I had the chance to hear KSM’s government appointed attorney speak. Did you know that KSM confessed to killing JFK? He signed a statement to it so I’m sure it is true (not). Just see what waterboarding and drugging someone in Gitmo can do for the truth!

  7. DH Fabian
    July 18, 2019 at 20:27

    Seriously every time I think our “leaders” can’t possibly go any lower, they surprise me. I encourage people to read the “Wikileaks Files” to see why it has caused our ruling elite to come unhinged. And yes, Democrats already began (a few weeks ago) setting the stage to blame Russia for an expected 2020 defeat.

  8. Robert Mayer
    July 18, 2019 at 16:26

    Tnx CN4 Caitlin repub… Good taste Joe!
    We all recall Jim Acosta’s Tmp admin false flag w/ intern… so interesting CNN organ2 badmouth Assange w/ questionable report…
    UMO stick in2 MSGreedia fiction file

  9. Robert Mayer
    July 18, 2019 at 16:21

    Tnx CN (read Caitlin repub so Goodtaste Joe)… & tnx rogue! We all recall CNN ‘$ Acosta false flag assault on Tmp’s whoever… (Acosta Wik states Jim pub opposed racist famsep)… Tryin2 lie way back inta Govs’ Good Graces… or just sidin’ w/ DCCC or whoever?
    Just stick in2 typical MSGreedia falsity file!

  10. Fran Macadam
    July 18, 2019 at 11:52

    Just before leaving office, President Obama issued an Executive Order legalizing propaganda initiatives by government agencies – disinformation campaigns – aimed at the domestic American population. Previously this was illegal.

    • DH Fabian
      July 18, 2019 at 20:36

      When did we NOT have routine propaganda initiatives by government agencies? Thus has been standard all along.

    • Clark M Shanahan
      July 19, 2019 at 11:25

      Sounds all to believable, Fran
      Would you have any links, related?

      • Clark M Shanahan
        July 20, 2019 at 09:57

        All “too” believable/ sorry

  11. Truth first
    July 18, 2019 at 11:51

    I don’t understand how the Crappy News Network are able to publish so many falsehoods without ramifications. Can there be a shortage of lawyers in America who will go to bat for a truthful country??

  12. July 18, 2019 at 11:20

    CNN described all sorts of everyday activities as though they were nefarious. E.g., accepting packages (“deliveries”),deciding who you’d like to visit with (“controlling the guest book”).

  13. Steve Naidamast
    July 18, 2019 at 10:59

    Every now and then I tune into Long Island, NY’s, Richard French Live” evening news. Richard French himself is a moron of a broadcaster but his guests Andrew Whitefield and Domonic Carter at least attempt to maintain some semblance of honest analysis.

    Last nigh, Richard French promoted the CNN story on his show as “evidence” of Julian Assange’s conspiring with the Russian government to help Donald Trump win the 2016 election.

    Of course French provided no corroborative evidence to this “supposed” evidence other than some blurred photos of Assange talking with other people inside the Ecuadoran Embassy.

    I watched this segment just to see how French would present this information… I emotionally vomited…

    I have seen Richard French promote categorical lies or misinformation before but this piece was a new low for him…

  14. quasimodo
    July 18, 2019 at 09:37

    and I will sing my truth
    and I will not be silenced
    and it will be painful to your ears
    and repellant in your eyes
    and bitter on your tongue
    and you will gird up your loins
    and cloak yourself in sanctity
    and you will band together
    and howl in righteous outrage

    and you will attack the singer
    vainly hoping that somehow, some way
    you could avoid listening to the song

  15. July 18, 2019 at 09:17

    It’s interesting to note that while the Western corporate media such as CNN, BBC, the Guardian etc focus on dubious hacking allegations on the part of Russia and Wikileaks no attention is paid to the content of the Podesta emails themselves. It can’t be clearer that this is a coordinated attempt on the part of the major news services and their respective governments to distract away from the corrupt and criminal behavior of their political leaders.

    • DH Fabian
      July 18, 2019 at 20:38

      You nailed it. But we aren’t supposed to know that.

    • Abby
      July 20, 2019 at 01:47

      Wikileaks released an email file from Hillary’s campaign that showed that was why Russia Gate was cooked up. To keep people from focusing on their content. And we can see it worked.

  16. Jill
    July 18, 2019 at 09:14

    I tried to post this yesterday and it just kept coming back to the article. Finally, it said the comment was awaiting moderation. I can see no breaking of rules in this comment. Here is another try.

    I had expected these types of articles to pop up closer to Assange’s extradition hearing. So I was wondering why now. Here is why I believe it was shlocked together and quickly released.

    The link below goes to a lawsuit which has every promise of definitively showing that Seth and Aaron Rich leaked the e-mails to wikileaks. It is possibly the best history of russiagate that I have ever seen in one place. It is written from a right wing understanding, yet grounded in facts (which don’t have an ideology). According to information in this lawsuit, CNN knows now and knew from the very beginning of Russiagate, that Seth and Aaron Rich are the true source of the e-mails. Think of the implication for CNN and every other person or entity that promotes Russiagate. The stakes for these players are enormous.

    Here is the link to the lawsuit: file:

    • ML
      July 18, 2019 at 16:30

      Thanks Jill, I just read the whole brief. Yes, it is written from a right-wing perspective for certain, but it has a ring of truth. One thing that made me laugh though, is that over and over, the attorney calls the Clinton wing of the Dem Party “left-wing” and CNN a “left-wing news site.” LOL! Boy, people in this country are really screwed up in their nomenclature they use to describe the American Political Sh**-Show. Hilarious.

      • Jill
        July 18, 2019 at 21:20

        He has the evidence. CNN knew they were lying from the beginning and they know it right now.

        I agree this is right up there with fears of American becoming a socialist nation (except for the rich)!

        • ML
          July 19, 2019 at 12:22

          Exactly. Socialism for the wealthy is alive and well and must be stopped. I just wonder if all this evidence in the brief will come out in the “legacy” press. They suppress so much, it seems doubtful they’ll give this the airing it needs. Once they figure out how they’ll spin it, maybe then they’ll start their blabbering. Then we can begin detangling their perfidy. Your posts are lovely, by the way. Thank you.

  17. Butch
    July 18, 2019 at 08:04

    The myth of our “democracy” continues to perpetuated by the fascist state in which we reside. A dumbed down insouciant drug induced collective coma coupled with an education system that discourages cortical thinking insures our demise. It’s sky-writing on the BIG wall but nobody looks up.

  18. Michael Keenan
    July 18, 2019 at 07:20
    • DW Bartoo
      July 18, 2019 at 11:19

      It seems there is a coordinated attack going on, Michael Keenan, directed against any whose words may debunk narratives that power wishes to dominate and control the information available to hoi paloi.

      One notes, as well, that comments here seem to disappear when “post comment” is activated.


  19. Sally Mitcheell
    July 18, 2019 at 03:11

    The world is sickening from sick unhealty untruthful stories which is sending humankind into a brainwased monotonous depressed submissive subservient fearful and poorly state truth and justice for the future generation must be fought for right now

  20. Jeff Harrison
    July 18, 2019 at 01:10

    Thank you, Caitlin.

  21. Mike from Jersey
    July 17, 2019 at 23:40

    Long ago I decided that I would not click a CNN link at any time, about anything.

  22. Clark M Shanahan
    July 17, 2019 at 23:04

    What does it take?
    Oak stakes needed to be driven through the hearts of Brennan & Podesta?
    Some commenters have tried to pin this solely on Brennan & Clapper.
    I have a gut feeling it all wouldn’t have started without Obama getting a heads up.
    Just a month or two earlier, Obama had sold the control of the DNC to Clinton Inc.
    Trump is a truly obscene being to me.
    I was genetically Democrat before the Russia-Baiting took hold.
    All the people that I once enjoyed/respected before they glommed on to Russiagate.

    It’s been a sobering lesson on humanity.
    Mass-Psychosis is a real thing. Close friends and family members now estranged because I refused the KoolAid.
    This and the post 9-11 madness, two close run-ins with fascism.
    I hope it passes.

    • Jeff Harrison
      July 18, 2019 at 01:34

      It’s probably not going to, Clark. We have not had close run-ins with fascism. The United States is a fascist police state. Accepting that reality is essential if we are to do anything. We are not having close run-ins, we don’t simply have elements of, we’re not somewhat like. We are a fascist police state.

      • Clark M Shanahan
        July 18, 2019 at 09:42

        I moved to France in 1977.
        At that time it was the leader of the number of police per capita in the “West”.
        (A solid majority of judges, in the first post-WWII governments, were recruited from occupied France and Vichy (many police, also).)
        It was bad enough, already.
        BUT, luckily, much of the population was cynical.
        Here, the citizenry seems to demand its KoolAid.

        I hope Tom Kath, below, is right.
        Our “journalists” need to clean house, if we hope to maintain some semblance of a democracy.

        • Steve Naidamast
          July 18, 2019 at 11:02

          I am thinking of writing the New York Chapter of the ACLU to discuss a lawsuit against Verizon, which owns the FIOS network on Long Island, NY, for the presentation of such grossly, false reporting as I mentioned in my own comments above.

          Maybe this is the way to go…

        • July 20, 2019 at 09:13

          Clark – Sadly most Americans have no clue regarding immediate post-WWII history, including the U.S. bringing many hundreds of “former” Nazis home to roost in our CIA and other military organizations; or installing Reinhard Gehelen and his boys as the head of West German intelligence, Operation Gladio, etc. The Nazis may have officially “lost” the war, but the forces of the West that embraced and facilitated fascism certainly were the winners, as our decades of post-war support for Franco quite clearly demonstrated.

          I was lucky enough to live for several years in France (until two years ago) and noticed what seemed like a rather significant difference in the general outlook of the populace there from here at home in the U.S. My sample size is rather small, so you may have a very different outlook on this after living in France for decades. What I noticed is that one could actually carry on a civil conversation about the political world and it’s structure with even a stranger without fear that difference of opinion would lead said stranger to melt down in anger like a two year old overdosed on sugar, the way things seem to go here in the U.S. in our absurdly polarized society. The French seemed as you say, more “cynical” and weren’t so likely to be taken in by the type of “red vs blue” & “liberal vs conservative” stereotyped ideological nonsense used to divide and conquer us so effectively here in America.

          In other words people didn’t seem to feel so compelled to vociferously defend some piece of ideological turf no matter how uniformed they might be about the world, perhaps accepting that the entire system is corrupt, not just which ever political party or leader they didn’t happen to agree with at the moment. I found that attitude to be quite refreshing. Attempting such open political conversations with strangers here in the U.S. is sort of like throwing a small can of gasoline on an open barbecue grill to see what will happen. The outcome is all too predictable.

  23. July 17, 2019 at 20:55
  24. Tom Kath
    July 17, 2019 at 20:11

    Surely such blatant and extreme propaganda and malpractice must in some measure aid in discrediting itself. – Call it enough rope to hang themselves with. CNN is certainly raising far more doubt about its reporting accuracy than we can possibly do here.

    • Mike from Jersey
      July 18, 2019 at 07:48

      I have often thought that CNN and their ilk are accomplishing the precise opposite of what they intend.

      They intend to create a docile citizenry who accepts whatever the Corporate Media tells them. They are actually creating an outraged citizenry who believes nothing that the Corporate Media tells them.

  25. July 17, 2019 at 17:13

    My attempts to comment and even to do the trick where we just type a random word to make all the invisible comments on a post suddenly visible are not working any longer. Technical difficulties with the CN site again.

    In any case, if anyone does get to read this comment, I added a bunch of references to Caitlin’s piece for anyone interested in psyops, how the media cooperate with the government to spread propaganda, how the Assange smearing feces story is no doubt lifted from a similar story (this one true) told about Ozzy Osbourne, and so on to fill in some of the missing pieces and background for CN readers:

  26. O Society
    July 17, 2019 at 16:48


  27. bjd
    July 17, 2019 at 15:55

    It is Brennan at work. His last twitching.
    Roger Stone is right. This creep should be hanged.
    Well, he is about to be exposed.

    • michael
      July 18, 2019 at 10:44

      Brennan still has his security clearances, and is likely still running the CIA (and will only leave on a gurney). Evidently the un-elected Head of the CIA outranks the President of the United States and any Presidential orders.
      Remember Allen Dulles continued to run the CIA, informally (read “the Devil’s Chessboard”), after being fired for the Bay of Pigs fiasco. Dulles also presided over the Warren Commission cover-up, and probably over JFK’s assassination.

  28. bjd
    July 17, 2019 at 15:53

    It is Brennan at work. His last twitching.
    Roger Stone is right. He should be hanged.
    Well, he is about to be exposed.

  29. dfnslblty
    July 17, 2019 at 15:41

    Excellent réportage, commo siepré….
    Keep writing the truth about this ongoing oppression.

  30. Arthur
    July 17, 2019 at 15:05

    Thank you for continuing to document the deliberate journalistic malpractice of CNN and others.

Comments are closed.