November 1, 2014

11/3/2014: Please see update for expanded details on these "hacks". This story has been corrected to remove the reference to Erik Wemple's reporting, which was more accurate than any of the others.

If Sharyl Attkisson's anti-vax reporting is as accurate as her claims about being hacked by the government, she's got a big problem.

Attkisson's 'Hack'

In a nutshell, Attkisson claims the government hacked her computers in December, 2012 and she reported it to CBS at the time. She claims a PC and her personal Mac were hacked, and the media has accepted this claim with no skepticism. Mediaite went with the assumption that she shot it in December, 2012.

Fox News, of course, is hailing her like a conservative heroine for being so bold as to take on the government.

Howie Kurtz quotes Attkisson's book:

Kurtz said that the book explains an anonymous source was called in to look at Attkisson's computers and was flabbergasted at both the extent and the sophistication of the hacking.

As evidence, Attkisson released this phone video she claims shows of the 'hack' in process.

Media Matters took on the assignment of debunking it, and their experts said it really just looked like the delete key was stuck.


A sharp-eyed commenter over at Media Matters observed that Attkisson's video was shot during the Valerie Harper debut on Dancing With the Stars in September, 2013. Here's what WiscoJoe observes:

Attkisson shot this video on or sometime after September 16, 2013. The episode of "Dancing with the Stars" that is playing in the background features Valerie Harper dancing a Foxtrot to "Some Kind of Wonderful" and first aired live on the evening of that date.

According to Attkisson's own timeline her computer was 'hacked' in October 2012, she came forward with this allegation in May 2013, but then waited until September 2013 to take video 'evidence.'

Has Ms. Attkisson provided an explanation of when this video was taken or why she waited for a year, and until after she went forward with public allegations, to take video documentation of her computer being 'hacked'? Is this the standard of investigative journalism that she was doing while at CBS? If that's the case it may explain why she no longer works there.

Here are a few more questions to go with those. If you're hacked, do you leave your computer hooked up to the Internet while you're writing a book with what you allege is sensitive information about how the current administration has failed? Do you open up all of your research to said 'hackers' who you allege are from the very government that you are trashing in your book?

Why on earth wouldn't you turn over those computers to forensic analysts, and why on earth would CBS leave the work computer hooked up to the Internet and the internal company network after said hack was reported?

We are supposed to believe that Sharyl Attkisson was hacked by the government and just said, "Oops, I'm hacked!" while she went merrily along with no additional examination, security and a nine-month lag between when she originally believed she was hacked and when she shot the video?

Valerie Harper did debut on Dancing With the Stars on September 16, 2013 and she did dance to Some Kind of Wonderful. You can hear the intro on the cellphone video she shot.

Despite the fact that Mediaite and Politico uncritically assumed the video was shot in 2012, it's clear it was shot on September 16, 2013.

Also, shame on Erik Wemple at the Washington Post for his uncritical analysis of her reporting, too. Do any reporters actually read with a critical eye, especially when Attkisson has given no one good reason to trust her?

All we can also conclude is that on September 16, 2013, Attkisson either laid something on her delete key to simulate what she believed was what a hacked computer looks like, or else she had a stuck key on her machine which she assumed meant they were coming to get her and she used her phone to take a video while forgetting she had an instant date stamp playing in the background.

What a splendid indicator of exactly how much weight her book should receive. None. If she can't manufacture evidence without giving away the fix, she is not to be trusted on anything, whether it's vaccinations or it's Benghazi!

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