These media sources have a slight to moderate liberal bias. They often publish factual information that utilizes loaded words (wording that attempts to influence an audience by using appeal to emotion or stereotypes) to favor liberal causes. These sources are generally trustworthy for information, but may require further investigation. See all Left-Center sources.
- Overall, we rate WikiLeaks a borderline Conspiracy website with a Left-Center Bias based on a combination of progressive views, coupled with limited Government Libertarian positions. We also rate them Mixed for factual reporting due to the promotion of the Seth Rich-DNC Conspiracy Theory, as well as connections to the Russian Government and frequent use of anonymous sources.
Factual Reporting: MIXED
World Press Freedom Rank: Iceland 14/180
Founded in 2006, WikiLeaks is an international organization that publishes secret information, news leaks, and classified media from anonymous sources. Julian Assange, an Australian Internet activist, is generally described as its founder, editor-in-chief, and publisher. According to their about page “WikiLeaks specializes in the analysis and publication of large datasets of censored or otherwise restricted official materials involving war, spying and corruption. It has so far published more than 10 million documents and associated analyses.” WikiLeaks also provides a page that lists Co-publishers, Research Partners and Funders. Since September 2018, Kristinn Hrafnsson has served as its editor-in-chief.
Below is a timeline of important dates and events related to WikiLeaks. (primary source Wikipedia)
- 2007 – Released the standard operating procedures for Guantanamo Bay detention camp.
- 2008 – Released the contents of a Yahoo account belonging to Sarah Palin (the running mate of Republican presidential nominee John McCain).
- 2008 – Released the membership list of the far-right British National Party.
- 2010 – Released a classified video of the 12 July 2007 Baghdad airstrike was released, showing two Reuters employees being fired at, after the pilots mistakenly thought the men were carrying weapons, which were in fact cameras. After the mistaken killing, the video shows US forces firing on a family van that stopped to pick up the bodies.
- 2010 – Around 400,000 documents relating to the Iraq War were released. This was considered the largest leak in history.
- 2010 – WikiLeaks published classified documents provided to them by United States Army Private Chelsea Manning (then known as Bradley).
- 2010 – Diplomatic Cables Release
- 2010 – The US Justice Department began a criminal investigation of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange soon after the leak of diplomatic cables.
- 2010 – PayPal suspended WikiLeaks’ donation account and froze its assets.
- 2010 – Swedish authorities issued an international arrest warrant for Assange for suspicion of rape.
- 2012 – Assange began hosting a program on the Russian Government backed propaganda TV network, RT.
- 2012 – Assange moved to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to avoid extradition for rape allegations in Sweden. The charges were eventually dropped.
- 2013 – The organization assisted Edward Snowden (who is responsible for the 2013 mass surveillance disclosures) in leaving Hong Kong.
- 2015 – WikiLeaks began publishing The Saudi Cables: more than half a million cables and other documents from the Saudi Foreign Ministry that contain secret communications from various Saudi Embassies around the world.
- 2015 – Published documents under the name of “Espionnage Élysée”, which showed that the NSA spied on the French government.
- 2016 – Released 294,548 emails from Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development party (AKP)
- 2016 – Released approximately 20,000 emails and 8,000 files sent from or received by Democratic National Committee (DNC) personnel.
- 2016 – Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned her position as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee as a result of the evidence that the Democratic National Committee was “effectively an arm of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign” and had conspired to sabotage Bernie Sander’s campaign.
- 2016 – Released a series of emails and documents sent from or received by Hillary Clinton campaign manager, John Podesta.
- 2016 – Published hacked e-mails showing that Donna Brazile, then DNC Vice Chair relayed potential topics that Clinton would be asked at a CNN Town Hall. Brazile initially denied the allegation and then finally admitted sending the topics to Clinton.
- 2016 – WikiLeaks announced that a “state party” had severed the Internet connection of Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy.
- 2017 – WikiLeaks started publishing content code-named “Vault 7“. This showed the CIA’s surveillance capabilities.
- 2017 – Released “Spy Files Russia,” revealing “how a St. Petersburg-based technology company called Peter-Service helped state entities gather detailed data on Russian cellphone users, part of a national system of online surveillance called System for Operative Investigative Activities (SORM).”
- 2018 – Published documents containing the personal details of many U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) employees with the declared aim of “understanding ICE programs and increasing accountability, especially in light of the extreme actions taken by ICE lately, such as the separation of children and parents at the US border”
- 2018 – The Democratic National Committee filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit in federal district court in Manhattan against Russia, the Trump campaign, WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, alleging a conspiracy to disrupt the 2016 United States presidential election in Trump’s favor
- 2019 – Roger Stone, longtime adviser to President Donald Trump is indicted for Obstruction, False Statements and Witness Tampering related to his communications with Wikileaks.
- 2019 – Assange is arrested by London’s Metropolitan Police Service after Ecuador revoked Assange’s asylum.
- 2019 – In April, Assange was charged by the US District Court for “conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.”
- 2019 – On 7/9/2019 it was reported that the Seth Rich Conspiracy theory promoted by WikiLeaks was falsely spread by Russian Intelligence.
Funded by / Ownership
WikiLeaks is owned by Sunshine Press Productions, which is a company founded in Iceland by Julian Assange, filmmaker Ingi Ragnar Ingason and journalist Kristinn Hrafnsson. “The deputy board member is Gavin MacFadyen, a professor of journalism in London. The company is registered at the home address of one of the board members at Klapparhlid in Mosfellsbaer.” According to their about page “WikiLeaks is entirely funded by its publisher, its publication sales and the general public.” They also generate revenue through an online shop that sells branded merchandise.
Analysis / Bias
In review, WikiLeaks is a publisher of classified documents that it mostly gathers through leaks or hacking. The website currently boasts “10 million documents and associated analyses.” As of this date we cannot find verifiable evidence that these documents have been altered or faked in any way. In fact, WikiLeaks has faced criticism for not redacting enough information and not being selective in what they publish. This lack of redaction has resulted in names, social security and credit card numbers of private citizens to be compromised. Glenn Greenwald explains: “I used to defend WikiLeaks all the time on the grounds that they were not indiscriminate dumpers of information. They were carefully protecting people’s reputations. And they have changed their view on that—and no longer believe, as Julian says, in redacting any information of any kind for any reason—and I definitely do not agree with that approach and think that they can be harmful to innocent people or other individuals in ways that I don’t think is acceptable.”
Throughout its history, WikiLeaks has released material that tends to reject militarism, authoritarianism and corporate control of political systems. This has resulted in more numerous exposures of right leaning authoritarian governments such as Turkey and Russia. Although, they have exposed left leaning candidates and parties, it was been through the lens of military and corporate corruption. Further, WikiLeaks has recently been leaking information that is damaging to the Trump administration due to their treatment of immigrants with the dumping of documents related ICE agents.
Although WikiLeaks claims to release any information that they have, they often seem to release info that is more favorable to the Libertarian Left perspective. This is evidenced by publishing more information that is opposed to authoritarian right regimes. Further, even though WikiLeaks may favor the left they had a very clear bias against Hillary Clinton, with Assange writing an op-ed “A vote today for Hillary Clinton is a vote for endless, stupid war.” This further illustrates their anti-war narrative. Lastly, Assange admitted that his timing of release was to maximize damage against Clinton.
The Clinton DNC and Podesta e-mail releases have been linked to Russia and according to the Mueller report “It is clear that the stolen DNC and Podesta documents were transferred from the GRU (The Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation) to WikiLeaks.” Mueller claimed to have identified with specificity the “two military units of the GRU, which carried out the computer intrusions into the Clinton campaign, DNC, and DCCC: Military Units 26165 and 74455.” WikiLeaks and Julian Assange have denied this claim, going as far as promoting the conspiracy theory that Seth Rich was the whistleblower on the DNC email leak. Soon after this statement, the WikiLeaks official Twitter account offered a $20K reward leading to the arrest of the murderer. On 7/9/2019 it was reported that the Seth Rich Conspiracy theory that was promoted by WikiLeaks was falsely spread by Russian Intelligence.
Further, Mueller found evidence that the release of the emails were also tied to Roger Stone, longtime Trump adviser, who had contact with WikiLeaks. Finally, in April 2017, former Trump CIA Director Mike Pompeo stated: “It is time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is – a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.” Pompeo said that the US Intelligence Community had concluded that Russia’s “primary propaganda outlet,” RT had “actively collaborated” with WikiLeaks. Ironically, Wikileaks publishes information against an authoritarian regime such as Russia, yet actively publishes their hacked information and even appears on Russian State TV.
In general, WikiLeaks publishes valid unaltered classified and leaked information. This information is factual and evidence based. As far as rating the bias of WikiLeaks, it is very difficult to put them on the Right-Left spectrum as it seems most of their leaks are opportunistic, rather than politically motivated. However, the editorial positions of WikiLeaks more closely aligns with the progressive left and limited government Libertarians.
Overall, we rate WikiLeaks a borderline Conspiracy website with a Left-Center Bias based on a combination of progressive views, coupled with limited Government Libertarian positions. We also rate them Mixed for factual reporting due to the promotion of the Seth Rich-DNC Conspiracy Theory, as well as connections to the Russian Government and frequent use of anonymous sources. (11/19/2016) Updated (D. Van Zandt 07/09/2019)