WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange: Watergate reporters ‘would have been prosecuted’ under Obama administration

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks during a news conference at the Ecuadorian embassy in central London
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Thomson Reuters

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange slammed the mainstream media in an interview with Fox News this week.

He denied that he was intentionally trying to influence the presidential election by leaking emails from Democratic officials, saying he was merely publishing what was true and allowing the American people to decide whether it would influence their voting.

Assange also implied that the US media is censoring its own coverage, saying that “under the Obama administration, Deep Throat, Woodward and Bernstein would have been prosecuted.” He was referring to the Watergate scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon and the reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who used an anonymous source to help uncover the scandal.

While Assange stopped short of calling himself a journalist, Assange said the information published on WikiLeaks is “better presented” than it is in news outlets like The New York Times.

Fox News host Sean Hannity asked if there’s any difference between the Times reporting on President-elect Donald Trump’s taxes and WikiLeaks posting secret documents online.

“There is a difference, which is our material is better presented, less intermediation,” Assange said. “The public responded to it more than The New York Times.”

In the months leading up to the election, WikiLeaks published hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.

US intelligence agencies have determined that Russia was involved in the hacking with the aim of swaying the election in Trump’s favor. Assange has insisted the material did not come from Russia.

But his reliability is questionable – former UN ambassador John Bolton, for instance, told Fox News on Tuesday that he wouldn’t trust Assange. And Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said Wednesday that Assange is “no friend of America and no friend of Democracy.”

Some prominent conservatives were also very critical of Assange when WikiLeaks published thousands of diplomatic cables, some of which were published in The New York Times.

Hannity himself noted during his interview with Assange that in 2010, he said he was concerned Assange was “waging war against the US.”

But Assange markets himself as a truth-teller who’s not afraid to report what is “censored” by the media.

“The editor of The New York Times, he has come out and said that he would do the same thing as WikiLeaks,” Assange said. “If they had obtained the information, they would publish it.”

He continued: “Now, unfortunately, I don’t believe that is true. I believe they would selectively maybe publish just a bit here and a bit there. They would not have done what we did, which is present the American public everything that we knew.”