Skip to Content

Support MinnPost

How much is WikiLeaks lying?

An intriguing media tidbit at the end of PiPresser Dave Orrick's DataGate story this morning:

Meanwhile, the WikiLeaks site itself drew more curiosity Friday.

Its media office e-mailed at least some of those named on its spreadsheets and told them, "Several national news organizations, such as the AP, and local organizations in MN have asked us for your feedback." It went on to say that the media groups had a "pool" agreement in which WikiLeaks would act as a conduit for a request for a "one-time comment" of each supporter. It promised them confidentiality.

Doug Glass, Minnesota news editor for the Associated Press, said the AP knew nothing of this. WikiLeaks spokesman Jay Lim acknowledged the AP was not involved after the Pioneer Press, which also had no such agreement, questioned him.

Lim did not respond to a request about which news organizations had agreed to a pool. Such a third-party pooling agreement would be highly unusual because the media already have access to the donors' contact information and because the Coleman campaign has questioned the involvement of WikiLeaks in what it has called "theft."

OK, so Orrick caught Wikileaks lying about AP. Are they lying about everyone else in the Minnesota media scene?

Like Orrick, I doubt any credible local media organization (old or new) would do this; Minnesota Independent, for example, has done a good job getting comments on its own. I can't see any other organization I regularly cover needing to partner with these folks.

But since Wikileaks won't substantiate its own claim, consider this a crowdsource request to Minnesota media organizations: are you in Wikileaks' pool? You can leave your answer in the comments, or email me at dbrauer [at] minnpost.com.

Do not assume an organization's absence from the running list below means they're in. It's Saturday and it may take some time to get folks on the record.

Organizations not in Wikileaks' "pool"
Associated Press
City Pages
Minnesota Daily
Minnesota Independent
Minnesota Public Radio
MinnPost
MnPublius
Pioneer Press
Twin Cities Public Television
The Uptake

Update: It just gets weirder. Here's an email I received from media@wikileaks.com:

We told Pioneer, in response to an email about "AP Minnesota" that "AP Minnesota was not involved AFAIK". We DID NOT state that "AP was not involved". There was no "admission of anything" other than that we were busy. Pioneer, agreed to be in the pool, btw, in response. — Jay Lim.

I think it's preposterous that the PiPress be in the pool, much less lie about it in print, but I'll double-check with them and AP's national and global headquarters. I've also asked Lim to cough up the names of the Minnesota organizations so he can prove the organization is telling the truth.

Nevertheless, I hear the honking of untamed geese being chased.

Update II: This is not how I want to spend my Saturday, but still.

Orrick says AP's Minnesota office and New York headquaters denied being part of any arrangement, so Lim will have to explain just what part of AP he's talking about.

As for the PiPress, Orrick says he told Lim that Wikileaks could pass along any comments distributed to the media, but was not agreeing to the group's key promise to donors: that once they spoke to WikiLeaks, the media wouldn't contact them.

Orrick said he reserved the right to call up donors and verify their "WikiLeaked" comments. In other words, he'd take WikiLeaks' info, but would verify it according to the PiPress' rules, not the leakers'.

Get MinnPost's top stories in your inbox

Comments (8)

I pingged some of my cohorts at MNpublius and we have not been contacted by Wikileaks in any way that we are aware of. I have also not contacted them for any reason.

Additionally, I felt that Orrick did fantastic work on covering the real meat of this story.

This underscores for some of us the concern over MSM dissolving into a larger pool consisting of a mixture of established, professional journalists, and an increasing array of citizen-journalists using a variety of electronic means. Some are very good, some are outstanding and others are, well.....

I think WikiLeaks is stepping a little out of its league. And I agree, Orrick has been fantastic on this story.

Nope. The Minnesota Independent hasn't struck any such deal with Wikileaks, and no one on our staff has been in touch with them.

We're not. And I've written extensively this week (mostly in comments) on several posts about the use of the data at all.

It's also hard to tell where the line between the people who provided the information and wikileaks is.

But it highlights one problem of not knowing who your information source is. How can you determine whether it's a trustworthy source if you don't know who it is.

Wikileaks has done some good work here and there, but is it the same people? Different? How do they check information? We know really nothing about their editorial process.

So many legs to this, and so little interest in 99% of them.

>How can you determine whether it's a trustworthy source if you don't know who it is?

Spot-checking the leaked data is a start. I tried to contact about 600 of the phone numbers or (mostly) email addresses on the leaked donor database. My first was question was, are you a donor? Of the 100 or so people who responded, no one said they weren't a donor. That makes me trust the database to a degree. Wikileaks' goofy statements, on the other hand, make me trust the organization less.

I've been thinking lately that the word "lie" gets thrown around pretty easily in our current political discourse. It's a bit like comparing people to Nazis in that it's a bit of a conversation stopper. It's as if everyone lies now, and nobody makes factual errors. In this instance, I can't explain the contradictions in what Wikileaks is saying, and it would be fair to say contradictions give the impression they're being deceptive, but I can see explanations other than they're lying. I can't substantiate them, or even claim they're more likely explanations than that they're lying. It just seems like there's an awful lot of doubt about who in which organizations talked to who to jump to the conclusion that Wikileaks decided to just make it up, which is what "lying" implies.

I read this article right after reading the MPR story on Sid Hartmann linked on this page. I have no factual information on this but wonder why it is 'cute' for Sid to read others voice messages and lie to ballplayers to get a story and why it is somehow outrageous for Wikileaks to do so?