It seems that Julian Assange's love/hate relationship with mainstream media is to continue. He hates (most) mainstream media journalists but loves it when he's their subject. Now he's to get his own TV show.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to be in the limelight and I am sure it will be compelling viewing. This is being billed as a radical alternative giving a platform to revolutionary voices. It's the 'People's Parkinson' or 'Marr for Marxists'.
But is it really breaking new ground? There is nothing novel about charismatic, self-obsessed TV inquisitors. Our TV studios are littered with self-regarding stars who want to set the agenda.
However, even the most ego-centric interviewers learn how to let other people speak. They can, at least, feign an interest in what their victims have to say - especially when they disagree with what is said. Sir David Frost was a master of this. Will Julian Assange be able to pull off that trick?
Whenever I have seen Assange debate in public or be interviewed he has not engaged with a different viewpoint. Like a well-trained MP or senator he sticks to his script. So I will be intrigued to see if he invites on people who don't share his particular world-view. The omens are not good. It sounds like we are going to get supporters rather than critics or opponents. So expect John Pilger, not Bill Keller from the New York Times. I doubt we'll see many Swedish feminists or Norwegian diplomats on the show either.
I have just written a book about WikiLeaks that argues that we should be grateful for what Julian Assange has done. The challenge that WikiLeaks has set for mainstream media and traditional politics is to be more open and to win the trust of the public. Both are a long way from achieving that at present.
But it seems that Julian Assange and WikiLeaks have also fallen into the trap of believing their own propaganda. They portray themselves as heroic victims of a global conspiracy. They want the right to free expression without the responsibilities that go with it. They want the power to disrupt politics without having to justify their own acts. It will be good if Julian Assange can debate some of these topics on his new show.
Charlies book Wikileaks: News in the Networked Era is out nowSuggest a correction