John King, USA

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December 28th, 2010
10:22 PM ET
December 28th, 2010
09:06 PM ET
December 28th, 2010
06:10 PM ET

Jessica Yellin’s response to last night’s Assange discussion

Last night’s discussion about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s book deal and his philosophy triggered an online debate and prompted a blog post by one of the guests. Some thoughts:

1) Glenn Greewald suggests that I am among those “leading the crusade against the transparency brought about by WikiLeaks.” This is an unfair accusation.

After Julian Assange accepted a book deal from a corporate publisher, we asked Greenwald on to address that news and answer some larger questions. I thought it would be helpful for viewers to hear a supporter explain Assange’s long-term objectives. Does he intend to disable what he considers a corrupt system? What is the end goal for him? I was interested to have that explained on air by someone who is sympathetic to Assange’s views.

2) In his blog post the author says I "angrily proclaim(ed)" that Assange is a terrorist when, in fact, I did something starkly different: I asked Fran Townsend whether it was fair for Vice President Biden to describe Assange as a "high-tech terrorist." That's no more an endorsement of Biden's view than my subsequent question to Greenwald was an endorsement (or not) of the view that Assange is a journalist. By Greenwald’s own logic, asking a question that challenges a guests’ view makes the journalist "indistinguishable from," "merged into" and "a spokesperson for" their opponent. That won’t get us very far.

3) The author revisits a falsehood I’d like to correct. I stand by a statement I made several years ago that during the war – when I worked elsewhere – I felt there was pressure to present the war in a way that was consistent with the patriotic fever in the nation and the president’s high approval ratings. I still stand by that statement. I’ve never backed down from that statement.

As a journalist, I enjoy moderating debates and asking questions that help viewers better understand each guest's view. In that light, probing Assange’s actions and endgame is not the same as aligning myself with the establishment. Similarly, engaging Assange’s belief that there should be more transparency in government does not align me with Wikileaks.

I ask questions. I push guests to explain why they believe what they believe. –Jessica Yellin


Filed under: Extra
December 28th, 2010
01:24 PM ET

Be in the know: Today's political bullet points

Everyday we ask influential politicos to send us their top three bullet points that are driving the day's conversation in and outside Washington.

RedState.Com Editor Erick-Woods Erickson:

– Is Michael Bloomberg able to clean up the snow this year? It seems the Department of Sanitation is moving slower than in years past. And if Bloomberg can't clean up the snow, is he really POTUS material?

– Democrats are plotting to kill the filibuster. The Senate GOP is plotting to make it as painful as possible. If the Democrats only need 51 votes for a Senate Rules change, the GOP has lots of rules to add.

– Jeb Bush for Florida Senate? Conservatives hope so.

Senior Political Columnist for TheDailyBeast.com John Avlon:

– Afghanistan turnaround? – There are signs that the tide is turning on the ground in Afghanistan as a result of General Petraeus’ strategic adjustments. The Haqqani network has been quieted as a result of increased raids by U.S. commandos, according to a New York Times story. It comes at a time when liberals and conservatives are increasingly vocal about withdrawal. The catch is that the revised 2014 withdrawal date has been pivotal in fueling the shift.

– Lisa Murkowski in the Middle – Joe Miller may still be pushing ahead with a court case, but Lisa Murkowski emerged as a key center-right vote in areas like DADT and the START treaty in the lame duck. Along with Scott Brown, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, she’s at the heart of a new centrist block that will be essential to passing legislation in the new Congress.

– Budget Fights Brewing – With the omnibus spending bill punted to the spring over earmark anger and a debt ceiling vote looming around the same time, the opening of the new Congress will be all about fiscal discipline. Senator Tom Coburn’s already taking to the airwaves to warn of ‘apocalyptic pain’ if spending isn’t reigned in. The good news is that both the conservative Coburn and the liberal Dick Durbin signed on to the Simpson-Bowles’ deficit commission recommendations. Could it be a sign of potential common ground?


Filed under: Bullet Points