It looked like a legitimate New York Times op-ed, with working links to other sections and house ads for the newspaper. But a column allegedly authored by former Times executive editor Bill Keller on why media organizations should defend WikiLeaks was a fake.
Keller cleared the air Sunday morning: “THERE IS A FAKE OP-ED GOING AROUND UNDER MY NAME, ABOUT WIKILEAKS. EMPHASIS ON “FAKE. “AS IN, NOT MINE,” Keller tweeted (caps-lock his).
WikiLeaks claimed responsibility for the deceptive op-ed, tweeting: “Yes. We admit it. WikiLeaks (Assange & co) and our great supporters where behind the successful NYTimes banking blockade hoax on @nytkeller.”
Keller added that he alerted the Times about the fake post, and he assumes the paper will “look into whether any of our systems were compromised or any of our copyrights violated.”
Assuming the WikiLeaks tweet taking credit is not itself a fake, Keller said the episode raises another question: Why would an organization focused on establishing credibility boast of making something up?
“When Jayson Blair got caught fabricating, it was — rightly — a major scandal. WikiLeaks does it and it’s, what, okay?” Keller said.
This whole thing is simply infantile. If their intent was parody, they failed pretty dramatically. If their intent was to raise attention to their cause, there were plenty of better ways of doing it. No, this was an intent to put words into somebodies mouth out of at best spite and at worst a desperate attempt to raise money.
I know my disdain for WikiLeaks is often in contradiction to much of the Freethought movement. Part of it is my background. Seeing large amounts of military data, the release of which could compromise any number of on-going operations and cost NATO service-members their lives won't win you any respect in my book. Another part of it is my dislike for the organization's leadership as a whole. Despite all their pretensions, I can't see them as anything more than attention-hungry prima donnas.
But even if you're a supporter of WikiLeaks, I can't see how you could support this particular action. Even if you support the aims of WikiLeaks, this action can only hope to make the organization look that much worse. It's certainly not going to help free up any funds; it will encourage quite the opposite reaction. Of course, what's annoying is the focus on the NYT Company. Regardless of any ethical lapses or poor reporting they may have had in the past, that doesn't excuse somebody taking an equally bad action in response.