Time Journalist Defends Murdering Julian Assange

by Kevin Jon Heller

It’s been quite a month for the mainstream media. First, at FP.com, Elias Groll completely misstated the mens rea of the Espionage Act and refused to correct his mistake. (He obviously reads my tweets, because he re-tweeted a criticism I offered of a different article.) Then, at the Guardian, Owen Bowcott misrepresented the specific-direction requirement, eliding the distinction between aiding and abetting and ordering/instigating.

But that pales in comparison to a new tweet from Michael Grunwald, Time‘s Senior National Correspondent:

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Yes, Time‘s Senior National Correspondent can barely contain his enthusiasm for murdering Julian Assange. And let’s be clear: that is what Grunwald is so excited about. We can debate the legality of drone strikes. We can have a rational argument about whether the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki was consistent with IHL and/or IHRL. But there is no conceivable rationale for killing Julian Assange.

And that’s not the worst of it. Where, exactly, does Grunwald hope Assange will be murdered? In the Ecuadorian embassy in London? Does Grunwald think that all of the Ecuadorians in the building and any British passers-by would simply be justifiable collateral damage? Or does Grunwald simply not care where and when Assange is murdered? That seems to be the most plausible interpretation of the tweet — given that Grunwald has announced in advance that he will defend murdering Assange no matter what.

Grunwald has since deleted his tweet. But not because of any sense of shame. No, here is his reason:

Yes, how dare Assange supporters have a persecution complex! It’s not like journalists for major US newsmagazines think Assange should be murdered or anything.

Michael Grunwald is an embarrassment to Time and to journalism. Time should not let him cover anything related to US national-security activities ever again.

PS. I’ve removed the sentence calling for Grunwald to be fired. That might be an overreaction to one tweet. But Time has to prohibit him from covering national-security issues in the future. And a suspension for his complete lack of objectivity and judgment doesn’t seem unwarranted.


2 Responses

  1. As an aside, I think tweeting is a medium structurally conducive to saying the first thought that comes to one’s mind, thoughts we might otherwise keep to ourselves, censor, inhibit, what have you…thoughts on reflection or with the passage of time (so as to ‘cool’ the passions) we would regret, think silly or evil, and so forth. This is one reason we hear so much about the crazy, stupid, inane, and outrageous things people from many walks of life have tweeted. This does not amount to an apology or defense of what Grunwald, or anyone else for that matter, has said in this medium but one should not be surprised with these daily revelations, although it seems, to me at least, a terrible distraction to spend so much time on such matters.

  2. The famous publisher of TIME, Henry Luce, was a known CIA asset. Grunwald seems to be following along in that tradition.

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