Sunday, 28 November 2010

Media hype and WikiLeaks

On Friday, via Twitter, WikiLeaks announced that the "UK Government has issued a ‘D-notice’ warning to all UK news editors, asking to be briefed on upcoming WikiLeaks stories." This comes after the United States briefed its allies, including Britain, on the potential fallout of the next leak.

This, of course, has sparked speculation in the media;
The Sunday papers all report on the imminent release of thousands of confidential US government cables by whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks. 

The Sunday Times says the UK fears the contents of the secret memos - penned by US diplomats - may affect the safety of UK citizens in Muslim countries.

It warns that those in Pakistan, Iraq, Iran and elsewhere could be targeted over the information that is released.

Now, I'm not going to dwell to long on this point, but I can't help wonder whether this speculation, fuelled by the US "briefing," is all just a way of dialing down the potential impact of revelations.

After all, if American diplomats have recorded events or actions that could impact upon foreign relations, then surely this fact alone affects relations without the detail being released? And "Islamic fury" could as well be ignited by the fact that we have information which would anger them as by that information itself.

Or, in a simple case of blinding by science, it could simply be the case that the flurry of speculation will be more exciting than the revelation itself.

What comes next from WikiLeaks will likely be either something that the government really doesn't want us to see or just so much hype. Either way, we need to judge it on its own merits. Not the media or government reaction to it.