Hacking and Double Standards in the media

Everyone know that I was hacked but a gutless coward who skulks in the shadows.

Our media as a result of the hack treated the conduit, Nicky Hager as a hero, pursued me, my friends and hounded people out of jobs.

We had done noting wrong, nothing illegal and yet they pursued us. We were vilified in the media, in social media and yet the fact remains that we did nothing wrong.

Our only ‘crime’ was to have differing political views to the hacker, to Nicky Hager and to the haters who vilified us.

Those same investigative journalists have never once attempted to investigate who the hacker was, who was involved or why they did it. There was zero balance., it was just a feeding frenzy in an attempt to unseat a popular government.

Now they are speaking at hacking conferences making themselves complicit in the hack.

Simon Brew at Den of Geek talks about the Sony hack and the lack of ethics from news outlets and journalists who have revelled in the hack.

Then, we’re at the Sony hack. This wasn’t a leak of a set picture, or a tip off from a source. This was people hacking into a company’s servers, stealing private information, and making it available without their consent. Thus, not only have certain films leaked, but so have documents relating to an assortment of Sony projects. These involve major franchises and a lot of human beings.

The major news outlets couldn’t wait to delve through them and run the stories.

Let’s make no bones about this either: there were some juicy, major stories in there. Huge ones in some instances. However, I can’t shake the feeling that they were obtained by theft. That outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, Variety and The Hollywood Reporter – to name just a handful – are, ultimately, benefitting from stolen property, and feeding on the spoils of it. Some are reporting it as a leak. But it’s not a leak. It’s an illegal hack. Bluntly, a theft. 

So why is this okay? Why has there not been a moment to even stop and contemplate what this means? In the UK at least, many have reacted with shock and outrage, for instance, at the phone hacking scandal that’s asked serious questions of the practices journalists undertake to obtain their stories. But that’s what this is too, isn’t it? The context and content may be different, but the core remains.

Maybe it’s because Sony is a big corporation, and is seen as a firm that can take it. After all, that’s true on both counts. But does that make it right? Does that mean that if hackers attacked any server, then the information they obtain would be fair game for anyone trying to knock out a 300 word news story against a deadline?

I’d argue not. In fact, I’d argue this was a great chance to draw a line in the sand. And I commend the outlets – generally the smaller ones – who resisted the click bait opportunity to post a story. And then there’s Empire magazine. There’s not a syllable about the leaked stories on its website, and for an outlet of its size, it’s taking a massive traffic hit by resisting them, the same for Total Film.

But – and it sounds horribly old fashioned to say this – running the stories would surely be the wrong thing to do.

And let’s be clear: nobody’s perfect. We’ve run material before based on a picture that was leaked, or something that we discovered afterwards wasn’t official. There’s a lot of stuff in grey areas, and it’s not always possible to make the right call.

But still: doesn’t the line have to be drawn somewhere? And I’d argue that the line has to be drawn in a way that’s clear whether you’re a big company or a two person outlet. If someone broke into your house, stole your personal documents and published them online, you would – quite rightly – be incandescent. Again, let’s make no bones about the fact that that’s what’s happened here. And whilst the stories may well be juicy, they’re also private. They’ve not been earned by investigative journalism, or good interview techniques. They’ve not been released by the company concerned. They’ve been uncovered by traipsing through stolen documents, in search of website hits.

And yeah: I know. I’m back on a soapbox, and I expect to be shot down. But this feels important to me. Either it’s right to run material gained from server hacks or it isn’t. It’s not a tricky divide. If Sony starts talking about individual stories? That might be different. But with one single source, and that source being what it is, I think running stories based on said material is wrong.

Unfortunately, many of the same outlets who claimed moral outrage when earlier leaks happened this year are feasting on this theft though, without a second thought. As someone who’s had ups and downs with Sony, and its products, over the years, I just think that’s double standards, and wrong. No matter how good the resultant story.

The standard has dropped forever now.

One day someone is going to hack David Fisher and Matt Nippert and the editors of the NZ Herald and they won;t be able to say a word about the display of all their dirty little secrets. They created the environment where criminals are the ones who decide what is public interest based on their own crazy prejudices.

You reap what you sow and the NZ Herald sowed more than most.


-Den of Geek


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  • conwaycaptain

    Is this a shot across the bows of the NZH as there is something coming???

    • Nope. Just wishful thinking.

  • caochladh

    “Those same investigative journalists have never once attempted to investigate who the hacker was”. The last true investigative journalist worthy of the title was the late Warren Berryman.

  • I for one would be happy to receive personal and business data and check it out for anything that might be in there that could be of public interest. The standard has been set: as long as I didn’t steal it in the first place, and it is given to me, then I can look for content that passes the public interest test.

    It’s just going to be time. The courts and media have set the standard. Everyone’s business and personal life is now in the game. The only way to defend yourself is simply not to record anything that can be of public interest.

    • Effluent

      I don’t think you have taken adequate account of the increasing bias on he part of NZ judges to view matters in one light when an offence is committed against the left, versus their disregard for due process when it is committed against someone on the right. Just look at the way John Banks was treated, as compared with Helen Clark. My guess is that if WO ran a story based on material which could be proven to have been hacked, you would find yourself in court, with one of Helen’s appointees or their heirs as the judge. Good Luck.

    • Effluent

      Has there actually been a judgement which makes “the public interest test” explicit, or are you just referring to the ineffectual performance ofteh police & courts in pursuing Hager’s sources on the part of the justice system?

  • Crookednose

    Substituting “Public Interest” with “Media glee” is probably more apt in most cases.

  • Greg M

    Since when has “public interest” over ridden the law? And who would hold themselves above the law to make that decision anyway? Police and judiciary please explain.

  • Hollyfield

    I heard on the radio news yesterday that Nicky Hager is concerned that the police are able to access data on his computer unrelated to Rawshark. He is “having to pay” for an independent person to ensure the police don’t access any private information. He wasn’t so concerned about other people’s privacy though, was he?

    • Crookednose

      Supposedly, he was very concerned because he’s doing a book/story on corrupt senior police and he was worried about his data “Going missing”.
      I’m thinking that a USB stick can be hidden in many locations on a human body….

    • sheppy

      If the police had any sense at all and with the 1km speed limit nonsense you have to wonder, they’d have imaged the computers drive sector by sector the moment they had it and then saved that copy somewhere very safe in case it’s needed in future.

  • Cowgirl

    After reading these stories the last couple of days I had my own moral dilemma about it last night. Amusing as some of it might be, it is none of my business to read it and certainly no one should be printing and profiting from it. It’s abhorrent to think that this is now what is going to constitute “journalism”, and that these same publications were filled with moral outrage over the hacking of private photos of celebrities just a few months back. I won’t be reading any more of it.
    I also noted the convenient language used in the Herald article – the word “hacked” in the headline becomes “leaked” in the article. Let’s hope the Herald don’t spring any inconvenient “leaks”.

    • SlightlyStrange

      I read one that stuff published about an email exchange relating to Angelina Jolie.
      And it was incredibly hard to follow, and nauseating to consider this was hacked, so I gave up halfway through. I’m still annoyed I gave it a page view though – I didn’t realise it was hacking-related till I was already in the article.

      • Cowgirl

        Yes, it is pretty nauseating, although the comments were fairly amusing because I’ve never rated Jolie. And yes, I wish I had never given it the time of day either now.
        What really annoys me though (apart from the theft) is the insistence from people that the executives apologise for what they said in private emails. No one would have got their knickers in a twist except Jolie and it sounds like she deserved the sledge, and no one should ever have to apologise for comments that were never meant to be in the public domain. It smacks again of that guy who owned the Lakers being publically shamed and ostracised for comments that were taped without his consent and illegally broadcast. Should never happen and I would back the executives if they told everyone to naff off because they spake the truth, and no one should ever apologise for that just because some actress might get the ‘ump.

  • Macca

    The MSM have managed to ‘justify’ their actions (along with Hagers), throughout this whole despicable ordeal by saying Cam started it with the original hack of Labours Web site and thus in their swivelly little lefty brains, that makes it OK. Of course they are incapable or more so, not really interested in understanding the difference between the two incidents.

    This all started with the poisonous chalice that is Kim Dotcom (who I have absolutely no doubt in my was the main instigator behind this hack), and how right from the word go, the MSM took the stance of defending Dotcom, turning a blind eye as to why he was searched in the first place and using the ordeal to try to disrupt the National government and score political points for their left wing puppet masters ie Labour and the Gweens.

    As ye sow, and boy, I can’t wait for the reaping to start because it has to because if it doesn’t, how can society even attempt to enforce any laws if this type of blatant theft is condoned?

  • Tom

    It’s true, this man is part of a growth industry….

  • D.Dave

    In my eyes, the MSM has sunk to the depths of the ‘unseen dog turd at the park’, you only know it’s there when you step in it. With MSM, you know the odour of credibility is now that of your shoe; you just want to get rid of the stench.

  • Kelvinmyhero

    I believe the ‘line will be drawn’ when someone in the media is successfully prosecuted for handling stolen goods if they publish illegally obtained information.

  • Eddie

    There was once a time when journalists had integrity. Today, it seems they won’t stand apart from many of the more democratised news/information sources who have traditionally had few scruples (present company excluded, of course). Dare I say it but Family First have made a stand I think I could get behind – https://www.familyfirst.org.nz/2014/12/tv-standards-board-seen-as-irrelevant-ineffective/.
    “Broadcasting standards is an oxymoron, aided and abetted by the
    so-called watchdog which doesn’t act until after the fact, and has
    displayed poor judgement,” says Mr McCoskrie.
    I’m not necessarily against complaints not being upheld but more that those that are should have fines or, at the very least some sort of apology imposed. If there are no consequences for bad decisions/actions then how can we expect anything to change?

    • dgrogan

      Mr McCoskrie is right about broadcasting standards watchdogs acting after the fact. But how could it be any other way – other than through censorship, surely?

      Standards are pre-set. Producers meet those standards, or they do not.

      But you’re right about there needing to be penalties for non-compliance. Otherwise the ‘shock-value’ for producers might become too addictive.

  • Alexander K

    Cam, you are doing the right thing in my view, as It’s obvious that the Marxist Left sees itself to be at war with us conservatives (with a small c) and that, as they are on a war footing, the means are justified by the ends. The UN, the MSM, most of Western education and those who are employed in government departments or anything paid for out of State coffers, see themselves as engaged in the glorious ideological battle to defeat us evil conservatives.
    So go for it, it’s obvious that the ordinary voters who elected National for a third term know that you are on the side of the angels. As long as none of us small c conservatives stoop to the nasty, dishonest and underhand tactics of the left. The majority of Kiwi voters instinctively know right from wrong and follow those good instincts.