Netflix Re-Launching Assange Smear Days Before Court Date

Caitlin Johnstone responds to Netflix’s revival of a 2013 documentary that WikiLeaks, at the time, refuted as irresponsible libel. 

By Caitlin Johnstone

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Netflix will begin streaming a brazen hatchet job on Julian Assange and WikiLeaks for its American subscribers on Oct. 24, just three days prior to a significant court date in Assange’s fight against extradition from the U.K. to the United States on Oct. 27.

“You can stream We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks on Netflix starting Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, at 12 AM PT / 3 AM ET,” Netflix Schedule reports.

We Steal Secrets was a “documentary” that is now so outdated after its 2013 release that one of its central characters, Chelsea Manning, is referred to by a dead name throughout its entirety. Why choose this specific moment to release it?

Well it doesn’t make much sense at all, if the timing wasn’t deliberately geared toward damaging Assange’s reputation in the nation whose government is trying to extradite him for exposing its war crimes. Assange’s October court date was set way back in August and Netflix didn’t announce it had scheduled to begin streaming this film until two weeks ago.

After all, We Steal Secrets was so egregious in its spin that not only did WikiLeaks supporters like World Socialist Website and journalist Jonathan Cook pan it as a smear at the time, but WikiLeaks itself went to the trouble of publishing a line-by-line refutation of the mountains of propaganda distortion heaped on the narrative by filmmaker Alex Gibney.

“The title (‘We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks’) is false,” WikiLeaks writes at the beginning of its response. “It directly implies that WikiLeaks steals secrets. In fact, the statement is made by former CIA/NSA director Michael Hayden in relation to the activities of US government spies, not in relation to WikiLeaks. This an irresponsible libel. Not even critics in the film say that WikiLeaks steals secrets.”

Glitch art of the Netflix logo. (Kxxvii, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

“Gibney’s latest release — We Steal SecretsThe Story of WikiLeaks — is something else again,” World Socialist Website wrote in 2013. “The 130-minute feature is a political hatchet job against Julian Assange and dovetails with the media and US government campaign against the WikiLeaks web site. Whether Gibney has shifted to the right or simply revealed the fatal limitations of his liberal ‘oppositional’ views is a matter for a separate discussion. In any event, his newest work is an effort at disinformation.”

“The job of a good documentarist is to weigh the available material and then present as honest a record of what it reveals as possible. Anything less is at best polemic, if it sides with those who are silenced and weak, and at worst propaganda, if it sides with those who wield power,” critiqued Jonathan Cook at the time.

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This would not be the first time Netflix has helped circulate narratives that advance the interests of the U.S. empire, or the second, or the third, having already run blatantly propagandistic “documentaries” advancing imperial interests in nations like UkraineRussiaEgypt and multiple ones about Syria. Netflix has also signed deals with the Obamas and with British royalty.

So, they’re not exactly looking out for the little guy, which from a company worth an estimated $229 billion should come as no surprise.

Still, such open facilitation of the world’s most powerful government in its campaign to imprison a journalist for inconvenient journalistic activity is a special kind of reprehensible. If there is a healthy humanity in the future, it will look back on the worldwide smear campaign against Assange and WikiLeaks with horror.

Caitlin Johnstone is a rogue journalist, poet, and utopia prepper who publishes regularly at Medium.  Her work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking her on Facebook, following her antics on Twitter, checking out her podcast on either YoutubesoundcloudApple podcasts or Spotify, following her on Steemit, throwing some money into her tip jar on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of her sweet merchandise, buying her books Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix, Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone and Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.

This article is from and re-published with permission.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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8 comments for “Netflix Re-Launching Assange Smear Days Before Court Date

  1. Susan Leslie
    October 17, 2021 at 10:14

    Thank you for trying to wake the masses Caitlin – unfortunately I think the propaganda machine is winning. Americans are too blind and stupid to actually think for themselves – which has been the plan all along…

  2. October 16, 2021 at 21:19

    I watched that a couple of times, didn’t see it as a hit piece. But if Wikileaks and Assange say it is, it is irresponsible of Netflix to be rewinding it now.

  3. Lois Gagnon
    October 15, 2021 at 18:56

    Boycott Netflix. Pass it on.

  4. October 15, 2021 at 08:56

    I challenged Alex Gibney and his producer, Jemima Khan, at the time. Their film was a travesty: a model of the kind of slick, specious, faux “documentary” that fed into a disgraceful zeitgeist of bigotry against Julian Assange. Having selectively interviewed axe grinders and turncoats, Gibney abused Assange as paranoid. False claims about Assange’s refusal or reluctance to redact vulnerable names made mockery of Khan’s assertions that the film was “nuanced” and “fair” and “represented the truth”. In fact, it was a gift to the fabricators of a bogus criminal indictment that could doom him to one of America’s hell-holes.

    John Pilger

    • October 16, 2021 at 05:52

      At the very least, Gibney needs to include an update this time, on the Netflix screening of his 2013 film ‘[Michael Hayden says] We Steal Secrets’, stating that no chromosomal (sexual) DNA was found on the alleged torn condom; neither Assange’s nor woman A’s. Fair’s fair, right Jemima? Forensics only found mitochondrial DNA, which is found in nails and hair. They said if it had been used in any sexual act, it would have been covered in chromosomal DNA. Incidentally, this exculpatory evidence could have been included in the edit back in 2013, since the forensics were published 2-3 years earlier. Jonathan Cook thought it hard to imagine Gibney didn’t know. He should be petitioned now to do the right thing; the fair thing.

      • October 16, 2021 at 21:47

        Can’t we just forget that ridiculous rape story?

  5. Eric
    October 15, 2021 at 03:49

    Is there a petition or open letter to Netflix?

  6. Calvin e Lash Jr
    October 15, 2021 at 02:16

    Assange is a hero in a planet ran by unkind despicable humans.

Comments are closed.