Skip to comments.MDforDirtyPolitics… and journalism [MD4BUSH]
Posted on 11/08/2005 6:59:47 AM PST by advance_copy
Earlier this year a mysterious source turned over some e-mails to a Washington Post reporter. The e-mails seemed to indicate that a man with ties to the Republican governor of Maryland, Robert Ehrlich, was spreading rumors about the governor's chief political rival on FreeRepublic.com. The Post wrote a series of articles about the e-mails and the man a state employee named Joseph Steffen resigned and apologized to the governor.
The Post didn't do any reporting on the source of the e-mails someone only identified by the Free Republic screen name "MD4Bush" but it was apparent from the nature of the e-mails that MD4Bush had entered FreeRepublic.com with the intention of engaging Steffen in a conversation about the rumors, leading him into making damaging statements in private e-mails or "Freepmails," and then turning those e-mails over to the Post.
The strategy worked like a charm. Washington Post reporter Matthew Mosk demonized Steffen and downplayed aspects of the e-mails that seemed exculpatory, such as when Steffen wrote (in response to a clearly leading question), "I am sure you will understand, I cannot and will not offer suggestions that may be considered unethical concerning what you should do, campaign-wise. This is especially true concerning [the rival's] personal life." In over a dozen stories written about Steffen over the subsequent months, this statement appeared only once, in the last paragraph of a sidebar story titled, "Uproar brings focus on role of bloggers."
While Mosk was playing Judith Miller for some anonymous political operative, WBAL-TV investigative reporter Dave Collins was getting curious about the identity of MD4Bush. He reported a few stories speculating about the identity, but he couldn't do much FreeRepublic.com sympathized with the governor's side but was bound by law to keep any information on MD4Bush confidential.
(Excerpt) Read more at nationalreview.com ...
ping a ling...
Made it to NRO. Excellent!
Mosk definitely should be fired. Kudos to Spruiell for laying out the case against him so articulately and persuasively.
Mosk sounds like he is between a rock and a hard place.
He says he does not know the identity of MD4Bush but he also says he had permission from MD4Bush to enter Free Republic using his password (a no-no anyway)
How can you have persmission from someone you do not know?
Mosk's editor states that an "intermediary" provided the password, which actually compounds the ethical dilemma for Mosk. How did Mosk satisfy himself that the intermediary had proper authorization to access someone else's account?
y'all shoulda seen that liberal squirming when dave collins stuck the mike in his face to question him about his email addresses.
his eyes darted from side to side then rolled back into his head as he retrieved the proper responses drilled into his memory banks by his politician bosses.
damage control !!!
damage controlllllllllllllllllll !!!!!!
I would dearly love for all the 15 or 20 "drive-by" FR posters from the ranks of the WaPo to each have to fess-up publically as to their attempts to create rather than report the news....
The whole issue of moving the private Freepmails to the public forum of FR has not received enough attention (from what I've seen so far) IMO. Does the act of moving private freepmail to the public forum violate any laws or statutes, FR guidelines? If MD4Bush did it? What if a Washington Post reporter did it while logged into the MD4Bush account? Would this be a greater legal offense than just logging onto a FR account to verify things (as the WP claims)?
I'm not sure if a reporter can source private emails for a story. If not, it would be a big temptation for a reporter to quickly copy private material to the public forum to be used as a source. I may be way off base here, but I suspect that the WP did more than just verify their source while they were logged onto that account.
That is not the problem under Electronic Communications Privacy Act. The exceeding of permitted access by the WP is the problem. Posting private FR mails is considered bad form on the forum but not a violation of law or of the FR Guidelines.
"§ 2701. Unlawful Access to Stored Communications
(a) Offense.--Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section whoever
(1) intentionally accesses without authorization a facility through which an electronic communication service is provided; or
(2) intentionally exceeds an authorization to access that facility; and thereby obtains, alters, or prevents authorized access to a wire or electronic communication while it is in electronic storage in such system shall be punished as provided in subsection (b) of this section. "
"User Account Confidentiality: User agrees to protect user's account and password and not to disclose account information to any third party."
The WP did exceed an authorization to access FR by using anothers password(Forbidden under the Users Agreement which govern the access of users) to access FRmails and did not make any attempt to determine the rules of access to FR or presumably they would not have improperly used anothers password. They flat did violate section 2b of 18 U.S.C. 2701 in that they did not view, or observe the rules if they did view them. If the reporter was unaware of 2b of 18 U.S.C. 2701 it won't help. A professional at a large newspaper should know or should have asked.
"I may be way off base here, but I suspect that the WP did more than just verify their source while they were logged onto that account."
If anyone logged in from the Washington Post posted anything I am sure we would have heard about it. They probably verified the contents of FR mail under MD4Bush which they could not access as a guest.
So, the Washington Post is saying all it's "journalists" are too incompetent to trace this down? Why don't they hire some better quality "journalists"?
Oops. That's what I get for not reading through a thread before posting. (When will I learn?) Apologies for the dupe.
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