The latest issue of Private Eye, the current affairs magazine from the United Kingdom, includes a damning column about WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange, in which an editor from the magazine details “as much as [he] can remember” about a phone call with an angry Assange, who spews anti-Semitic rhetoric and slams the journalists at Britain’s the Guardian, with whom Assange worked closely for a time. Titled “A Curious Conversation With Mr. Assange,” the article begins with a phone call from Assange himself, calling a recent Private Eye piece about an anti-Semitic WikiLeaks associate “crap,” despite admitting he didn’t read it. Assange goes on to charge the Guardian with leading a conspiracy at the hands of “journalist David Leigh, editor Alan Rusbridger and John Kampfner…all of whom ‘are Jewish,'” in Assange’s words. Eventually he backtracks, but he still sounds like an asshole.
The Guardian editor Rusbridger, Private Eye points out, isn’t even Jewish. Assange countered that he’s “sort of Jewish.” After some prodding, Assange relented: “Forget the Jewish thing.”
Still, “Assange really is very cross indeed with the Guardian and its hacks,” according to Private Eye. Assange said he stopped them from “ripping him off” for millions of dollars in book deals and the like.
But Private Eye eventually gets to the probable source of Assange’s anger: “He is further outraged that the Guardian‘s Nick Davies reported the leaked police material from the sex case against him in Sweden, and that Alan Rusbridger did not stop the Swedish story going into the newspaper.” (Read more on the Guardian‘s report of Assange’s sexual abuse allegations here.)
“They failed my masculinity test,” Assange said of the Guardian editors. “They behaved like gossiping schoolgirls.” Anti-Semitism and sexism? The man is not making any friends.
UPDATE: As noted by a few, including a commenter at Liberal Conspiracy, “You do all realize of course that Private Eye is a satirical magazine?” While that may be their primary aim, sometimes they do real reported work as well, and the initial Private Eye piece that allegedly offended Assange, about an anti-Semite in the WikiLeaks ranks, does indeed exist. Assange’s comments about the Guardian are all corroborated elsewhere and his references to a Jewish conspiracy are not even overblown enough to be of the Charlie Sheen variety. So if it’s a joke, it’s too subtle. And the fact that it’s believable at all says something else entirely about Assange.