Vanity Fair portrays WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as a shrewd negotiator and master shape-shifter.

Media criticism.
Jan. 6 2011 12:00 AM

The 1,000 Faces of Julian Assange

Vanity Fair portrays the WikiLeaks founder as a shrewd negotiator and master shape-shifter.

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Assange's brinkmanship, his ability to pit the press against the press, and to bluff, bargain, and reset the terms of the deal, is unequaled in the history of journalism. He's like Mort Zuckerman reopening a closed business deal, shifting the target, and winning concession after concession. The Assange lesson is that if a source has the brains, the guts, and the leaks, he can take the driver's seat and tell reporters to ride in the trunk.

Ellison poses a couple of questions at the end of her piece that I can't wait to see answered. How much gas does Assange have in his tank? And where will he go to get refills? I hope she gets to write the sequel.



For all his egomania, I still don't think Assange is any more bent than any top newspaper or magazine editor I've had the pleasure to have known. Express your egomania with e-mail to Observe mine from afar at my Twitter feed. (E-mail may be quoted by name in "The Fray," Slate's readers' forum; in a future article; or elsewhere unless the writer stipulates otherwise. Permanent disclosure: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.)

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Jack Shafer was Slate's editor at large. You can follow him on Twitter or email him at

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