ASSANGEMASKPeterMcDiarmid:Getty

Michael Moynihan does his damnedest to resist the conspiracy theories now buzzing around the arrest of Assange:

Before Assange was remanded to custody in the United Kingdom, awaiting a possible extradition to Sweden to face multiple sexual assault charges, his most credulous supporters switched tactics, from attacking the overly broad Swedish conception of rape to suggesting one of his alleged victims moonlights as an American agent; downshifting from Camille Paglia to Three Days of the Condor.

Here’s how an evidence-free, innuendo-filled personal attack on a rape accuser trespasses the mainstream political debate. On his Twitter feed, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann (162,000 followers) links to a rambling blog post arguing that Anna Ardin, the Swedish feminist who accused Assange of rape, is an anti-Castro activist with connections to CIA front groups. Elsewhere on the Internet, NYU professor Mark Crispin Miller, the popular liberal website FireDogLake, Bianca Jagger, and The First Post (a British news website “brought to you by The Week”) all circulated the charges without an ounce of skepticism. 

(Photo: Peter McDiarmid/Getty.)