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April 14, 2011

Exclusive: Vaughan Smith on Julian Assange

By Spear's

At a talk in Kensington this morning, Vaughan Smith, journalist and host of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, called his guest ‘slightly irritating’ and implied that the reason he was reviled by the national press was because they were jealous of him

At a talk in Kensington this morning, Vaughan Smith, journalist and host of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, called his guest ‘slightly irritating’ and implied that the reason he was reviled by the national press was because they were jealous of him.

‘I don’t think the established press,’ Smith told the Kensington and Chelsea Women’s Club, ‘has been comfortable with the new guy on the block, the guy who’s using the internet’ when their business models have failed to make money out of it. Journalists dislike Assange because ‘he’s doing enough journalism to make a thousand careers in journalism.

‘It’s threatening to people who have worked very hard for a long time and it doesn’t deliver in a way this has.’


Vaughan Smith in front of a slide of Julian Assange

Assange was not a rapist, Smith said, referring to the charges he is wanted for questioning in connection with in Sweden: ‘I have teenage daughters and he’s staying in my house.’ The charges are ‘not what we would call rape’, he added.

Smith was talking about ‘Wikileaks, dictators and dominoes: the changing face of the Middle East’, although most of his speech was an apologia for Assange, with some caveats: ‘Not every member of the Frontline Club [Smith’s private members’ club for journalists] is a support of Julian Assange and Wikileaks,’ and Assange ‘is stubborn: he doesn’t listen to me or anyone else’. He said Assange knew what he was doing ‘when he pushed the return key on his computer’.

People expected Assange to be a messianic figure, Smith said, because he had delivered ‘a series of difficult problems’ and we wanted him to provide the solutions too. ‘He’s not the Messiah,’ Smith said, not realising how that quotation usually ends.

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