The feuding between online whistleblower website WikiLeaks and its former media partner The New York Times appeared to rear its head again over the weekend when WikiLeaks put out a hoax involving the NYT’s boss, Bill Keller, and a fake blog post decrying the Obama administration’s financial blockades targeting WikiLeaks.
While WikiLeaks partnered with a number of mainstream media houses globally — including NYT — to publish what were described as confidential State Department cables, the whistleblower subsequently fell out dramatically with the NYT and others such as the United Kingdom’s The Guardian.
On Sunday, however, Wikileaks put out a tweet admitting that a fake opinion blog entry purportedly authored by Mr. Keller — a columnist and former Executive Editor of the NYT — was in fact written by the supporters of WikiLeaks.
“Yes. We admit it. WikiLeaks [Assange & co] and our great supporters where [sic] behind the successful NYTimes banking blockade hoax on @nytkeller,” it said. However, subsequently, it added, “What is not a hoax is that WikiLeaks is under illegal economic censorship by U.S. financial insitutions and NYTimes says nothing. The rats.”
In comments to The Guardian, Mr. Keller responded, “I see this in the realm of childish prank rather than crime against humanity. It’s a lame satire. I’d take it a little more seriously if it were actually funny.”
The hoax entry by WikiLeaks did include some genuine quotes attributed in the past to the “real” Mr. Keller, including one line: “I’ve said repeatedly, in print and in a variety of public forums, that I would regard an attempt to criminalize WikiLeaks’ publication of these documents as an attack on all of us.”
Yet, other comments attributed to Mr. Keller in the fake entry hinted at strained feelings between the two organisations, including “Mr. Keller’s” view that “journalism should work in unison with government,” and that “Had The Times had exclusive access to the WikiLeaks cables, we could have pursued a similar government-review-before-publication policy, thus safeguarding national security from legal and public scrutiny. “