In the excerpt that is already, and utterly predictably, making headlines, Humphrys gets down in the muck, quizzing Assange repeatedly on whether he slept with the two women in question before addressing his reputation as “some sort of sexual predator.”

Q: The allegation against you, the very broad allegation that’s been made over and over again in the media over recent days is that you’re some sort of sexual predator who has sex with a large number of young women, ideally without a condom, and that you do it because you can, effectively, because in some cases they’re groupies or they’re enthralled to your fame or whatever it is. Are you a sexual predator?

JA: That’s ridiculous. Of course not.

Q: How many women have you slept with?

JA: That’s a private business. Not only does a gentleman not tell, not only does a gentleman like to talk about his private life, a gentleman certainly doesn’t count.

On the question of the embassy cables themselves, Humphrys and Assange get into the debate which has been doing the rounds since the first Iraq megaleak, and before that: just what is the value of the leaks? Humphrys appears to be on the side of those who would dismiss revelations from the latest leaks as idle gossip, until he changes his mind…

Q: You will have released, by the time it’s all over—Cablegate—maybe a quarter of a million documents… A lot of it’s fascinating. A lot of it’s intriguing. But it’s tittle-tattle. It’s the kind of thing an ambassador would tell his boss at home just because it’s something he’s found out. In whose interest is it that we should all of this stuff?

JA: With respect it is not tittle-tattle. There’s is very, very serious matters in there. When the head of the state or an ambassador is reporting what you call tittle-tattle, it is no longer tittle-tattle. It is either very dangerous poisonous political gossip, or it is the truth.

Q: This is very different from releasing, for instance, the kind of information that was released relating to sensitive sites, in some cases important security sites. In whose interest was it to do that, apart from people who might potentially benefit, like terrorists?

JA: Your suggestion was that it is tittle-tattle. Now you are saying that this is something that is serious.

Q: I said the vast majority of it was tittle-tattle but I would also suggest to you that some of it was dangerous.

JA: I believe none of it is dangerous. Vastly more detailed things have been released by the United States government itself, by Congress. For example, a year-and-a-half ago it released a list of all US nuclear sites.

Toward the end of the interview, Humphrys asks what Assange believes WikiLeaks has achieved. He responds:

Already we see that we have changed governance, we have certainly changed many political figures within governments, we have caused new law reform efforts, we have caused police investigations into the abuses we expose, UN investigations, investigations here in the UK especially in relation to our revelation of the circumstances of the deaths of 109,000 people in Iraq. Before Cablegate, the change is so vast that I cannot, and my whole team cannot, even keep track of it.

Does he want to change the world? “Absolutely.”

The world has a lot of problems and they need to be reformed. And we only live once. Every person who has some ability to do something about it, if they are a person of good character, has the duty to try and fix the problems in the environment which they’re in.

That is a value, that, yes, comes partly from my temperament. There is also a value that comes from my father, which is that capable, generous men don’t create victims, they try and save people from becoming victims. That is what they are tasked to do. If they do not do that they are not worthy of respect or they are not capable.

Joel Meares is a former CJR assistant editor.