NYT Kills the CyberCzars, then Translates Them into Russian

As I have suggested already, I am less enthused with the NYT’s big story on the DNC hack than most other people are. The story doesn’t explain its key conceit — why John Podesta still got hacked if an IT person instructed others how to protect him. It hides evidence that the DNC had enough information, from the start, to respond to the hack as a Russian-based attack (and in a number of other ways downplays the sheer ineptitude on the part of the DNC).

Moreover, especially as it writes articles about its own article, the NYT is treating this as the first comprehensive story on the hack, claiming credit for reporting done after the election that others managed to do before the election (story, story).  I’m pretty unsympathetic to any bid for a Pulitzer Prize (which I believe this is) that could and should have been completed before November 8.

Along the way, too, it has made some amusing edits. For example, an hour and a half after publication, the NYT decided to modernize the spelling of the neologism it had invented, from “cybertsars” to “cyberczars.”

Then, an hour and a half later, it killed off the cyberczars altogether.

That was easy!

Five hours after publication, the NYT admitted it should not have eliminated evidence of the WaPo’s great Watergate scoop from the article’s spooky lead picture.

Editors’ Note: An earlier version of the main photograph with this article, of a filing cabinet and computer at the Democratic National Committee headquarters, should not have been published. The photographer had removed a framed image from the wall over the filing cabinet — showing a Washington Post Watergate front page — because it was causing glare with the lighting. The new version shows the scene as it normally appears, with the framed newspaper page in place.

To the NYT, I guess, WaPo’s historic greatness counts as an annoying glare.

But now things have gotten interesting. Yesterday, the NYT posted a second version of the story, with a toggle to read it in Russian.

I’ve remarked on this practice at the NYT in the past, noting that NYT’s decision-making process about what it translates into Chinese seems arbitrary at best. But in at least once case — a case analogous to today, where the US was deciding how to respond to a massive compromise by an adversary (in that case, the compromise, the OPM hack, was even more damaging than what we know of this one so far) — an article seemingly addressing that issue got translated, in that case into Mandarin.

Maybe this is a great thing, to make it easier for Russians to get NYT’s partially misleading magnum opus on the DNC hack? Maybe this decision was made without any consideration of how to retaliate against Putin for this hack?

But amid accusations about fake news and official publications, the NYT really should be more transparent about how and why they do this.

 

 

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

5 replies
    • emptywheel says:

      First paragraph:

      The Dukes are a well-resourced, highly dedicated and organized cyberespionage group that we believe has been working for the Russian Federation since at least 2008 to collect intelligence in support of foreign and security policy decision-making.

      And that’s if you’ve missed the big “7 years of Russian cyberespionage” on the front page of the report.

      You’re suggesting the response to seeing that is to assume it’s just teenage hackers?

  1. Felica says:

    I am very critical about this article and the follow-up story. Maybe it is a bid for the Pullitzer price. And in that case it would not worry me. But it does because I do believe it has a deeper goal. During the campaign NYT turned out to be very pro-Hillary and in fact more or less part of the campaign. I think they still are in campaign mode and I do believe it is backing-up discrediting Trump and maybe even part of a strategy to prevent him to become president.

    NYT as Wapo have a lot of status. Abroad all news these newspapers bring are almost sacred. Talking about telephone games, take a guess about the news we get.

    Still think the first article is so vague about this memo and who it was sent to. Between the lines , by using all little words and no exactly important facts, and on the other hand omitting mentioning important facts, a reader is left with an impression: dumbo’s at the DNC and same goes for the people that handled Podesta phising e-mail.

    The typo a legitimate / an illegimate is strange. And it became even stranger after the guy who made this typo came out with another story: he had meant to write ”not a legimate e-mail” and the NYT  had the wrong wording. (to me this is more plausible btw)

    http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2016/12/an_interview_with_charles_delavan_the_it_guy_whose_typo_led_to_the_podesta.html

    The follow-up article mentions the pizzagate shooting, and what a coincidence the writer was just next door and could report about this as well. I just believe this a coincidence too much. In fact this is pretty disturbing cause what does that indicate?  no matter what the opinion is about pizzagate, the fakenews and meassures against it might be the reason this happened. And the incident could have been staged. Pizzagate-people do have a point by stressing some important questions are not asked by journalists in covering pizzagate ‘hoax’ (like the pizzashop owner being number 49 on a list of most influencial people in DC)

    So Pullitzer price maybe that is where they are heading for, but at the same time I think this article is politics

  2. Evangelista says:

    Marcy,

    From this line, ” It [hides evidence] that the DNC had enough information, from the start, to respond to the hack as a Russian-based attack” I read that your article here is a critque of the NYT article, and that your object in writing was not to question the NYT’s facts or fact-checking or research or research quality, but to fault the article for not including as much reiteration of the “Russian Hacking” “meme” as it could have, as was available, and as could have been heaped into one over-the-top smothering-flood of a dump.

    Indeed, the article did not include all the “evidences” of “Russian Hacking” that it could have, including, as you cite in evidence, your own article about “Dukes” in which you record some of the connective gymnastics used to relate elements ot elements and draw lines from ‘Rebel’ious comedy to “Russian Hacking”, along with other stuff, none of which is real evidence, and none of which makes your articles(the cited one or the present one) legitimately evidential.

    In fact, there is still, even now, yet today, no legitimate evidence for a “Russian Hacking”, of any kind, including of a hacking by a person of Russian ancestry or Russian nationality, part-time, full-time, professional, G-level top, bottom or in-between, privately employed, or even put-on, or even a scrip-kiddie-in-a-hurry (rushin’).  There is nothing to date except clap-trap, and analyses on clap-trap.

    What we have, to date, has been, and is, verbal equivalent to the infamous giant box full of horse-shit that the hypothetical child digs through with enthusiasm on Christmas Morning, spurred by the belief that “With all this horse-shit there has to be a pony in here somewhere!”

    It is one of the oldest, and lowest, forms of propaganda-press:  “Lie and lie and lie and lie, and if you get called on your lying, lie some more, and if you are shown evidences, keep on lying, and if the evidence is irrefutable, start at the beginning and keep lying!”  It si what they did in the “Syrian Sarin Attack”, and the M-17 airliner “BUK Attack” cases.  It appears to be what they are doing again now with the “Russian Hacking”.  Two things should tip you to bring all skepticism forward:  One, the accusation came too immediately after discovery, before any evidences could have been found or filtered for even preliminary authentication, and two, the ascriptions do not fit to the accused, including all motivations, up to and including the motive Hilary ascribed Putin.  In regard to the last, review Putin’s manner and subsequent responding to the ‘G-9 summit’ in Australia, where he was subject to attacks and insulting.  Review his respondings to subsequent attacks and aggressions, including in the UN, and by a variety of belligerent officials, including in imposing sanctions and the in Turkish ambush of a Russian aircraft, and even the recent ambassadorial assassination events.  There is too much evidence that Putin does not respond in the manners the propagandists’ propaganda depends on.

    All of the peripheral that is added on is gingerbread, fretwork and filigree that provides nothing to the structure, no weight, no strength, no provability.  The purpose in adding such addenda in propaganda is to provide cover and diversion.  It may all be knocked away, but in the knocking away the central lie is given pseudo-substance for being made, and being recognized, ‘the structure’ the peripheralia is knocked away from.  As you write with the propaganda ‘structure’ for your base you add to the propaganda.  Your analyses obscure instead of clarify.

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