Potential New FCC Boss Blames Obama For The Washington Post's Botched Russian Utility Hacking Story

from the finger-pointin' dept

We've noted how one of Trump's top telecom advisors is Jeffrey Eisenach, a long-time Verizon consultant and aggressive opponent of net neutrality. Eisenach's one of three Trump advisors who have made it clear their top priority in the new administration will be to not only gut net neutrality, but to defang and defund the FCC as a consumer watchdog on telecom issues. Eisenach isn't just an advisor, he's also on the shortlist to be the next head of an agency he doesn't believe in.

But when Eisenach isn't busy dreaming about dismantling net neutrality, he can apparently be found writing logically incoherent op-eds over at the Wall Street Journal. In a strange little tirade posted on January 3, Eisenach quite correctly ridicules the Washington Post's recent false claim that Russians were busy hacking U.S. utilities. In short, a piece of common malware was found on one PC, and because the Washington Post couldn't be bothered to even call the company in question, the paper created a bogus narrative, based entirely on anonymous sources, that casually pushed the country closer to war.

Yeah, no biggie.

Eisenach starts off well enough, quite correctly illustrating the depth of the Washington Post's failure on the story, and how the malware was arguably run of the mill, and certainly not directly tied to the government:
"The kind of malware involved in these two intrusions is neither new nor particularly sophisticated. It is run-of-the-mill spyware that has probably been implanted on thousands of networks around the world, from home computers to those inside banks, power companies and government agencies. These bugs are freely available online, and the code found at the Democratic National Committee and the power company isn’t even the latest version. The notion that such a mundane piece of software reveals a new and ominous threat to critical infrastructure is laughable."
All true. But Eisenach's piece then takes a strange turn, in that it somehow tries to blame the Washington Post's awful reporting on... the outgoing President:
"Misleading the American people to advance a political narrative has been a hallmark of President Obama’s foreign policy. The most recent example is the administration’s attempt to conflate the hacking of the Democratic Party with potential cyberattacks on critical infrastructure...Cyberthreats pose a clear danger to national security, and building an effective defense will take a concerted effort by the Trump administration. Americans are right to be concerned. But by playing on those fears, the Obama administration is putting politics ahead of the national interest."
While the Washington Post was once again happy to quote all manner of anonymous, pearl-clutching intelligence sector insiders for its story (a bipartisan disorder for sure), Obama wasn't among them. Nor is there any indication that the Obama administration actively encouraged the Washington Post to trip over its own shoelaces and perform an epic, journalistic face-plant. Obama certainly has been no saint on cybersecurity, but to blame him for the Washington Post's dysfunction is more than a little strange, especially when the entire point of your article is to lament the senseless politicization of cybersecurity.

Someone might want to notify Eisenach that as a top advisor and potential new FCC boss, he's now the one in a position of power. If your goal is to demonstrate that partisan patty cake should be nowhere near technology and cybersecurity policy, why not demonstrate that with your actions -- instead of penning editorials that completely undermine the entire point you're trying to make?

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  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 5 Jan 2017 @ 1:16pm

    It doesn't seem like he's trying to say "the Obama administration actively encouraged the Washington Post to trip over its own shoelaces and perform an epic, journalistic face-plant" in this particular case, but rather that because of the Obama administration pushing the "Russian hacking" narrative so hard, with so little evidence, they created the climate where the Washington Post had a strong incentive to want to put out a story like this. And in that, he's absolutely right.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 5 Jan 2017 @ 3:23pm

      Re:

      I'm not seeing it. Even if the administration is hyping the 'Russian Hackers!' narrative that doesn't excuse the WP from not even doing the most basic journalism before throwing the story out there. 'Incentive' or not the WP screwed up, and that's on them.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2017 @ 8:46pm

      Re:

      Yeah, he didn't really mean what he wrote. What he actually meant was that the Sun rises in the East and sets in the West. And in that, he's absolutely right.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2017 @ 4:58am

      Re:

      "because of the Obama administration pushing the "Russian hacking" narrative so hard"

      I thought I read that most nations with intelligence operations agreed upon the same conclusion that there was indeed hacking by the Ruskies - Oh well, never mind, it was probably just fake news anyways.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2017 @ 6:15pm

    Not BS, fully documented at Wikileaks. ;)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 6 Jan 2017 @ 5:01am

    Oh but expect Obama to be blamed for every single failure in the next administration. It's easier to point fingers. And Trump does that with distinction.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 6 Jan 2017 @ 9:48am

    Cyberthreats pose a clear danger to national security, and building an effective defense will take a concerted effort by the Trump administration.

    That first part is a bit circular. Also, citation still very much needed.

    That second part... wow, you mean Trump will force all government operations to bring systems security up to at least the average security of small websites? Well glory be. I'm rootin' for ya, buddy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 6 Jan 2017 @ 11:11am

    AND?

    REALLY,
    So, the news agency does not have someone Knowledgeable enough to tell them the story is BS??

    Anyone know the location to THEIR SERVERS??

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2017 @ 9:37am

    Obama does put his political agenda and legacy above the interests of America.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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