How a cooked Assange quote ended up media gospel

Julian Assange. Image: Reuters.

Wikileaks, the clearing house for state secrets, seems more about founder Julian Assange's grudges these days: especially the one for Hillary Clinton. Much fuss was made over a quote—that he had "enough evidence" to guarantee an indictment of her—that was widely attributed to him. It turns out, though, that the quote doesn't check out: most point to a mangled interview on the UK's ITV where it isn't even said. Jesse Singal set out to track down a source that no-one bothered to verify. It's a surprisingly tantalizing and teasing journey, but the tl;dr seems to be that the quote was originally fabricated by the blog Zero Hedge.

So where did this two-word quote ostensibly uttered by Assange originate? It appears, but can’t be definitively proven, that it first popped up the day after the ITV interview in June, in blog posts covering that interview published by Zero Hedge and Russia Today. Zero Hedge, a popular economics- and finance-focused conservative blog that is very Clinton-averse and, to phrase it diplomatically, has not always had an intensely intimate relationship with the concept of careful fact-checking, published an item headlined “Julian Assange Warns WikiLeaks Will Publish ‘Enough Evidence’ To Indict Hillary Clinton.” The post in question didn’t actually show where in the ITV interview Assange said that, because he didn’t say that. (Wednesday, Zero Hedge followed up with a post which noted that “One month ago, when Wikileaks’ Julian Assange told ITV’s Richard Peston that he would publish ‘enough evidence’ to indict Hillary Clinton, few took him seriously.” If people didn’t take the quote seriously, there was good reason for it.)

From there it was picked up by Russia Today, and thence to the rest of the pressured and unpicky media circus.