In a move that has many people confused, and even angry, notorious WikiLeaks hero Julian Assange, has just signed a deal to host a television show. A television show that is funded by the Kremlin. Assange has signed a deal to do a show for Russia Today where he will interview “key political players, thinkers and revolutionaries”. The show will be called “The World Tomorrow” and is expected to begin in mid-March. Already filming has begun in London where he is currently appealing an extradition order to Sweden where he is facing questions over alleged sex crimes.
Margarita Simonyan, RT’s editor-in-chief spoke to Reuters regarding Assange’s fit with Russia Today:
“Everything we do on the air is different from the English-language mainstream. That is something we have in common with Assange.”
The move has been criticized by many as Russian President Vladimir Putin attempting to rehabilitate his image after the disastrous recent election. Much of the world is criticizing him as being a tyrant refusing to give up power and rigging elections. It’s accused that he is attempting to use the reputation Assange has with exposing corruption and promoting free speech as a way to polish his own. Where Putin is accused of being corrupt and oppressive, its hoped that this promotion of an anti-corruption and anti-oppression activist will help turn public opinion in his favour.
A show for Assange may also been seen as a slight by Putin to the United States. After all, Assange is most notorious for his exposing of US war crimes in the Iraq war. It would not be too far-fetched that Putin may be using Assange in the current battle between the US and Iran in the Straight of Hormuz. Russia is a key ally of Iran against US imperialism.
However in the past Vladimir Putin has opposed the arrest of Assange as being “hypocritical”. Other leading international figures from government and academics have come out in praise for him. Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez has thrown his support with him, alongside Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and US left-leaning academic Noam Chomsky. All of whom are rumoured to be guests on the show.
Social media has been less than fully supporting for Assange. Many on the popular micro blogging site Twitter have been critical of him. Many in the world see Putin as threat to freedom and democracy, they’ve been calling Assange a “sell out” for working with Russia Today, which many see as the personal propaganda outlet for Putin himself.
Despite what anyone may feel about the show, there is one thing that is for certain. The show is expected to do very well with expected high ratings. The show will be popular, and therefore profitable. The only question is who will be advertising on the program? Most American companies will be wary of such an endeavour. While the right in politics calls for Assange to be killed, the fake left of the Democrats do little better calling him a “threat to America”. There will be takers for advertising space no doubt, too much money is at stake for it to be ignored. The only question is who is going to take it. Or at least, who will be the first one to.