This morning Chelsea Manning gave her first television interview since her release from three weeks ago, and if you've been sympathetically following her saga it's pretty much everything you hoped for.
Manning, or course, is the civil liberties advocate and former soldier who served seven years of a harsh 35-year sentence for leaking army files to Wikileaks, among them a video showing the accidental, but enthusiastic, murder of civilians. She came out as a transgender woman during her time in prison, where she endured suicide attempts and, following a hunger strike, was allowed gender reassignment treatment. President Obama commuted her sentence during his last days in office.
We've not heard much from Manning, 29, since her release, outside of a few dispatches from her absurdly heartwarming Instagram. No one could guess what she'd been like as a freed public persona.
The interview is with Good Morning America and seemed aimed at making even your grandparents possibly see her in a positive light. Interviewer Juju Chang puts on the the usual network news correspondent mask of "I'm very serious, but also may have suffered a traumatic brain injury." Meaning she intended to walk people through the whole affair very slowly. Her first hard-hitting question: "Do you feel as though you owe the American people an apology?"
"I've accepted the responsibility," Manning said. "Nobody told me to do this nobody directed me to do this. This is me. This is on me." This is the theme throughout the interview, that agree or disagree with Manning, she acted with her conscience and in terms of winning over even your grandparents it seems a smart tactic. Chang never relents from her role of devil's advocate, asking if Manning's leaks might have also passed information to "the enemy."
"Right but I have a responsibility to the public," Manning says. "We all have a responsibility." Manning also teared up and thanks President Obama.
It's all stirring because you might expect someone who's gone through what Manning has to be cowed by the experience. Chang's simple questions actually end up making Manning sound that much more sympathetic because Chang's script sounds like it was written by the secretary of defense, and who really cares what that guy thinks, compared to this brave young woman?
The interview also lets Manning escape the shadow of Julian Assange, the more dubious advocate for her causes. It's a pretty good way to enter the weekend, check it out below:
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