It was billed as the #OctoberSurprise, the moment when WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange might reveal the damaging, campaign-ending information he'd obtained about Hillary Clinton. It couldn't come a moment too soon, as a wave of post-debate polling found Clinton regaining a lead over Donald Trump. Early Tuesday, the pro-Trump conspiracy site Infowars launched a live stream to watch Assange's “WikiLeaks 10" anniversary news conference; readers of the Drudge Report, which the day before had led with a story about a man who claims to be the son of Bill Clinton, splashed links to the Assange broadcast.
What unfolded, over more than an hour before daylight broke on the East Coast, was a ramble bearing no resemblance to an “October Surprise.” Assange, who has been credited by Trump fans with campaign-changing clout ever since his website published emails obtained in a hack of the Democratic National Committee, spoke after an hour of updates on WikiLeaks's content and legal fights, and dismissed a rumor that the news conference had been called to destroy Clinton.
“There’s been a lot of misquoting of me and WikiLeaks publications,” he said. “In this particular case, the misquoting has to do with that we intend, or I intend, to harm Hillary Clinton or that I don’t like Hillary Clinton. All those are false. They come about as a result it seems of this campaign and those who are trying to personalize our publications.”
Infowars broke into the broadcast to denounce Assange for “trolling” hopeful voters.
— nick ramsey (@nick_ramsey) October 4, 2016
But when the broadcast ended, there remained more than 36 hours for WikiLeaks to make good on what Trump ally (and Infowars guest) Roger Stone had tweeted — a message that had built the hype over the “October Surprise” in the first place. The only problem was Assange's awkward insistence that information about “the U.S. election” might come this month; less dynamite than was hoped for.