The Washington City Paper editors committed a cardinal sin today. They didn’t support their star columnist, Moe Tkacik, who they hired to write “attention-snagging icon-smashing features on culture and intellectual classes” when she published the names of the women who have accused WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of rape.
What’s worse is that Madden, the WCP managing editor, admits they don’t have an editorial policy on whether to name victims of alleged sexual assaults. So why does he deem that these girls names are inappropriate to post? Because his readers complained! What a wuss.
Tkacik explains ,to Joe Pompeo of Yahoo’s Cutline, the girls have already been tweeting about their role as Assange accusers and their names have been published before her post went up so why not add them. They played different roles in their perceived collaboration of charges against Assange and it gets confusing in a re-play of who did what if you don’t name who actually did what. But the real issue is why the media is treating these girls as victims in the first place. Assange hasn’t completed questioning yet by the Swedish government nor passed the test of plausible cause and received an actual charge of rape yet.
When I was in London, the week Assange was picked up by the Brits and jailed, the common belief by Londers I spoke with is that accuser number two, Sofia Wilen, is a honey fly, positioned to sit front row and braless during his college talk in Sweeden and entrap him in a sexually devious event. While Wilen’s background and agenda is yet to be proven I think the public deserves to know her name so they can do their own research and make their own conclusions.
I realize the initial concept of not naming people who accuse others of violent crimes in a police report was designed, as one of my twitter followers states, ‘with the societal goal of reducing violent crimes’. But the concept that people won’t report legitimate violent crimes out of fear of retribution if their names are published seems outdated. In America we are all still innocent until proven guilty without reasonable doubt so how can a person be a victim until a crime is proven. I don’t see how Assange isn’t any more of a run through the gutter victim these days then his 1st accuser, the Christian feminist Anna Ardin(Tkacik description), who first slept with him and let him stay in her apartment.
Now that a writer, Moe Tkacik, has been forced off the staff (moved to a contributor) of the Washington City Paper, what really happened is the WCP reader becomes the victim. Why because she’s an important voice contrary to the often controlled and boring D.C. columnist who bring us little fresh perspective on the news. She’s smart, she’s funny, and as the NY Observer pointed out today writes opinion and stories that often hit a top read list.
I hope Moe tells WCP managing editor Madden (and EIC Michael Schaffer) to F-off and doesn’t print another word for them. Her readers will follow her anywhere and hopefully the next editor she writes for has some balls and the journalistic integrity to stand by what they hire.
UPDATE 12/26/2010: Mike Madden has written in to point out he is the managing editor and wasn’t the only editor with out balls (my interpretation) and that Schaffer also was involved in the choice to take out the names of the girls who accused Assange of rape. So now we know they both made a stupid knee jerk reaction.
Madden also emailed this comment:
“the reason we removed the names from the post was not because readers complained. The names were totally irrelevant for the argument Moe was making, and had I seen the post before it was published, I would have removed them then, instead of afterwards. Readers complain about a lot of things we do, and they’d probably complain if we did the exact opposite, too.”
I think Madden’s argument is B.S. and that the girls names were relevant to Moe’s argument/story because they played different roles that lead to the Assange accusations. Names add color and detail to a story, which gives Moe the unique editoral tone her editors hired her to write. Also as I wrote above, if the girls are going to make rape accusations, and no charges have been brought yet, they absolutely should be named so the reader can decide on their credibility and research their different backgrounds.