WikiLeaks' Marketing Strategy: A Stroke of Genius

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by Gary North: The
Establishment Is in Despair

 

 
 

To understand
what WikiLeaks has done, we must understand economic cause and effect.
Let us begin with a comparable market: the market for gambling.

Governments
have laws against gambling. Why? The justification is moral principles.
This reason is less persuasive, once the government sets up state
lotteries and also licenses taxable gambling, such as horse racing.
The real reason is the governments want to monopolize the vice.
They expect greater tax revenues.

Governments
arrest bookies. But bookies are merely providers of the service.
The source of demand is the individual gambler: the guy who is placing
the bets. The infrastructure that delivers the service is surely
basic to the process, but it is the individual citizen who is the
prime mover. Why? He is paying for it.

Want to understand
the process? Follow the money. It ends with the customer.

The government
prosecutes the bookie because it is cheaper than following the money
to the sources. It’s a matter of the economies of scale. But it
is hypocritical to blame the bookie. It is cheaper to arrest and
try him than to arrest and try all of his customers, but he is not
the source of the practice. Customers are.

Back to WikiLeaks.
Who is the source of the problem? Readers of articles about the
scandals. This is gossip for educated people. This is Jerry Springer
for college graduates. This is "You know what she said about
him?"

Readers are
going to websites: plural. They are not going to WikiLeaks’ site.
They are going to the "bookies’" sites: The Guardian,
Der Spiegel, and the New York Times. These are the
national "newspapers of record." These are the Establishment’s
main news sources in the West.

Do you see
what Julian Assange has done? He has pitted one against another.
He gives them first shot at the leaked documents for a few days.
Then he releases them to everyone. "Want a scoop? I’ll provide
it. Want to be an also-ran? Just sit on the story." He has
them salivating for the next release. The papers have staffers ready
to read, write, and post.

This strategy
is working. The Establishment press is all over these stories.

The public,
Pavlovian to the core, can’t wait to get the next bit of gossip.
"And then she said this!"

This is National
Enquirer for the literati.

Obama’s spokesmen
are playing it cool. This is wise on his part. Meanwhile, what we
might call the Lieberman/Huckabee/Palin axis is going ballistic.
"We must stop WikiLeaks!"

Really? Why
bother with WikiLeaks? Just arrest the editors and publishers of
the outlets – the major Establishment media. If all those government-funded
official leakers (spies) are at risk, then the source of this risk
is the Establishment media.

But the critics
cannot arrest the editors and publishers. The ACLU would go into
action. So would the other Establishment media. "This is a
freedom of the press issue! This is a first amendment issue."
This is a hits-on-our-site issue.

When The
Guardian did a live interview with Assange on December 3, it
got so much Web traffic that the
site went down
.

The incensed
critics are not about to stick their fingers into this media hornets’
nest. So, they call for Assange’s head. Why? Economies of scale.
It is cheaper to shut down WikiLeaks’ site.

But this does
little good. The mirror sites
are too numerous. There is no way to stop the flow of information
on the Web. WikiLeaks is proving this, day by day.

If the mirror
sites go down, there will be FedEx deliveries to the Establishment
outlets of thumb drives filled with data. Do you think the media
outlets will exercise self-restraint, when they know that the others
have also received FedEx packages? I don’t think so.

The
U.S. government’s attempts to shut down WikiLeaks, as Assange knew
in advance, is creating enormous publicity for WikiLeaks. This makes
it even less likely that any of the Establishment media outlets
is going to cease publishing stories based on the leaks. "And
then she said. . . !"

The problem
is this: the public loves the gossip. It delights in hearing about
the latest blunder. This is a feeding frenzy. It is boosting traffic.
The press has never been able to resist this, once a single member
of the Establishment breaks ranks.

A generation
ago, the Establishment media sat on Daniel Ellsberg’s purloined
documents for weeks. The New York Times began its report
on June 14, 1971. The Washington Post followed on June 18.
It took until June
26
for 15 more to join in the bonanza.

Read
the rest of the article

December
6, 2010

Gary
North [send him mail]
is the author of Mises
on Money
. Visit http://www.garynorth.com.
He is also the author of a free 20-volume series, An
Economic Commentary on the Bible
.

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