NYT: Julian Assange Like a ‘Smelly Bag Lady’

As spotted by P.J. Salvatore of Big Journalism, the London Daily Mail ran this profile of the man behind Wikileaks yesterday:

Journalists who have dealt with Assange describe him as a man who skips around like a child, doesn’t always wash and is sensitive and volatile.

Bill Keller, executive editor of the New York Times, reveals that one reporter told him that Assange’s behaviour had been very strange.

‘He was alert but dishevelled, like a bag lady walking in off the street, wearing a dingy, light-coloured sport coat and cargo pants, dirty white shirt, beat-up sneakers and filthy white socks that collapsed around his ankles,’ he wrote.

‘He smelled as if he hadn’t bathed for days.’

Mr Assange is described as extremely intelligent and well educated – but is also branded arrogant and thin-skinned.


Where the Daily Mail falls down on their job as reporters is not following through on whether or not the Gray Lady considers Assange’s quirks as negative or positive features. Certainly “Arrogant and thin-skinned” could describe just about everyone who writes for the Times, and many of its readers. His fashion sense sounds like it would very much at home anywhere in SoHo. And perhaps Assange’s malodorous style could be attributed to simply taking the Times’ advice on hygienic matters. It’s all very la nostalgie de la boue, you see.

Hopefully the Daily Mail will look deeper into the New York Times’ multifaceted pinch of  aesthetic duality, and get back to us with something more definite.


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