Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are fake and the writers don't exist. Why are we bothering to run it? Because everyone else is talking about this at the moment, and like everyone else, the last thing we want to do is miss out on some easy hits.
So: It's the moral tussle over the media ambitions of the internet rebel that everyone's talking about – but is it really wise for Julian Assange to turn away from his grubby laptop screen and forge a new career as a "renegade" chat show host on a state-controlled Russian TV channel? Who would his guests be? What would they talk about? Has he even got the charisma to pull it off? I think it's high-time we heard both sides of this argument.
JULIAN ASSANGE IS A RENEGADE MASTER, A DEFAULT DAMAGER, POWER TO THE PEOPLE, WITH THE ILL BEHAVIOUR
by Julian Assange
Julian Assange is a hero. He's a martyr, in fact. A heroic martyr. He likes to talk about himself in the third person. He enjoys hanging out with his friends. He likes movies, books and video games. But the powers that be won't be happy until he has been put away forever. But screw the powers that be. They can't have me. These little men in their stuffy offices will never understand what it is to be truly great. With their limited lives, of pushing their pens around – pens! – in the era of the information superhighway! These dinosaurs have never woken up to the fact that the world has changed. That we are now living in a world of cyber-connected netizens, all bowing before the new Mammon: information.
Julian Assange (me) is a renegade motorcyclist on the information superhighway. I (he) am like Marlon Brando, easy-riding my way to ultimate freedom, taking lots of sexy data in virtual folder sacks from the rich, and giving it to the poor and the needy, free of charge. 'Information yearns to be free' was how Seth Godin put it in that book of his I read once.
This is why I am very grateful to Kremlin-controlled news channel Russia Today for allowing me to pull together a chat show. True renegades, history has shown, spend a lot of time talking to their fellow renegades, and this programme promises to be me talking to some of the great outlaw thinkers of our time. It will be a meeting of equal minds, and believe me, you will see the sparks fly. For my first season, I have lined up some very special guests: Stephen Fry. RENEGADE of witty chat shows everywhere, Stephen can cause an entire room to explode into what he would no doubt term 'mirth' with one well-timed line about crumpets. He doesn't believe in God, which is a brave stand to take because God is very powerful, much like the CIA. Michael Parkinson. RENEGADE of talk itself. 'Parko', as he is known to millions, has renegaded his way to the top of chat's greasy pole over 40 years. Perhaps, if it's true you can teach an old dog new tricks, he will be able to pick up a few new lessons from me. At any rate, I am sure he will have lots of great chat about Muhammad Ali and Oliver Reed he can share with us. Fatima Whitbread. RENEGADE of the javelin, Fatima managed to win Olympic medals, despite the fact that she is probably a man at some level which no one is talking about, sneaking her way to the top in order to throw the people's javelin in the faces of Juan Antonio Samaranch and his Olympic cronies. She has also insidiously ported herself into the world of reality television, populated as it is with flakes and hoodoos and dipshits and nobodies, and used the experience to preach an alternative gospel of information freedom, still managing to come out unscathed. But for how long? A Comedian With A Book Out. RENEGADE of being a comedian with a book out, this guest is as yet unconfirmed, owing to scheduling issues. My researcher tells me that if Lee Mack is bounced from Daybreak by Russell Howard, he will be able to find a slot for us. But if he falls through we've got Andy Parsons on standby, but if Parsons gets that BBC3 pilot commissioned in the same week and has to go to Salford, then we'll probably have to go with RENEGADE Rhona Cameron. At which point I will probably have to sack my fucking researcher. Nelson Mandela. As yet unconfirmed, but I'm sure he can ask me a lot of great questions about what it's like to be incarcerated for the crime of changing the world. I gather he also wrote an autobiography, so perhaps he can ask me about mine. It is a disparate line-up, true. And our schedulers have warned us that advertising revenue will be scarce where the guest lineup doesn't read as 'aspirational'. But what all of these people have in common is that they will be able to ask me some fantastic questions about my life and times. Given that the government networks may be listening in (Sky Channel 435), it seems likely that we will have to talk in code about a lot of our more revolutionary activities. Thus, I will use the phrase 'tell me about your new book' as the signal to begin discussing digital subversion.
Many people have told me that dispersing my underground info-bytes via the goggle-box rather than the Google-box may seem as antiquated as girdles, but sometimes you just need to be humble and go where the eyeballs are if you are going to change the world: a sentiment with which Fatima Whitbread would no doubt agree. Jesus, after all, did not waste his limited time preaching to the converted. No – he went to the unconverted. That was how he could best hit his sales targets.
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JULIAN ASSANGE AS A TALK SHOW HOST? THAT'S NOT THE ASSANGE I KNOW
by Jeff Moody
You can put a pig in lipstick, but it remains a pig. You can put a dog in a violin case. But it remains a dog. You can throw a hessian sack full of kittens into an industrial threshing machine. But, at least until they are struck and sliced atwain by the blades, they remain kittens. Likewise, no matter how much he postures before the world, Julian Assange is not the Messiah. He's not even a very naughty boy. The Assange I remember from our time together at Melbourne University, was an altogether different creature. Let's just say that if he hadn't spent so much time attaching pictures of Bill Gates to his dorm wall with Blu-Tack, maybe he'd be authorised to talk about renegade mastership with a straight face. One day I remember him bursting into the computer room where the more hardcore geeks did their coding, and telling us that he'd had a great idea for a website that would change the world. It was only three minutes into his bizarre stream-of-consciousness ramble that I realised he was describing Expedia.com. When I pointed this out to him, he refused to believe it. Even when I brought up the site on my browser, he just sort of freaked out and told everyone that they were thieves and he'd see them in court. This was a regular occurrence. One week he'd claim to have 'invented' Wikipedia. The next it was Boo.com. The next catsthatlooklikehitler.com. In one particularly bizarre episode, I remember him telling me that he was putting together an inventor's prospectus on 'a bladed, automated device to slice or otherwise process food products', and then me dialling up a picture of a Magimix on my laptop, to his utter shock and amazement. I'm sure he'll display much the same attributes as a talk show host as he did all those years ago. Except there's probably less opportunity for him to get locked in his dorm room for three days and be forced to subsist by eating wet toilet paper. I'm sure he won't thank me for this, but when the kids from next door finally found him, he was wearing a cape. No one has ever mentioned it. No one ever actually asked him: “Hey Jules, what was it you saw within your soul somewhere between days two and three that finally compelled you to start wearing a cape?” I mean, personally, I'm just curious… Julian Assange needs to grow up. He seems to think he's a walking billboard for awesomeness these days, but you would not have thought that if you had walked in on him on the phone telling his mother that he had been defeated in elections for the treasurership of the RPG Society because he was 'too greatly feared for [his] intellectual capabilities'. Still, I guess I'm glad he has finally had the opportunity to sleep with real human women.
Previously: Let's All Argue About Radical Islam