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Sharyl Attkisson, computer hacking, and the Masters of the Universe.

So. Somebody hacked into the computer of one of CBS’s best-known investigative journalists.

CBS News announced Friday that correspondent Sharyl Attkisson’s computer was hacked by “an unauthorized, external, unknown party on multiple occasions,” confirming Attkisson’s previous revelation of the hacking.

CBS News spokeswoman Sonya McNair said that a cybersecurity firm hired by CBS News “has determined through forensic analysis” that “Attkisson’s computer was accessed by an unauthorized, external, unknown party on multiple occasions in late 2012.”

One with a history of going after the administration. The report suggest that this wasn’t a script kiddie drive-by and it wasn’t a phishing expedition; whoever did this was after Attkisson’s personal hard drive data, and attempted to cover up the intrusion. So, whodunit?

Let’s not pretend: as an examination of the Memeorandum thread shows, a lot of people are gingerly clearing their throats and murmuring about how time of the intrusion at least superficially matches up with Attkisson’s reporting of the administration’s botched response to Benghazi. The reason why this is merely murmuring is that… well. If the Obama administration did send out hackers to access meddlesome reporters’ personal computers, and they got caught? Then the 2014 and 2016 elections are already over, and my side won. I don’t care how high an opinion people have on this administration’s ability to survive scandal; there are simply some things that can’t be overcome, and illegally spying on reporters is one of them. Neither is executing a secret warrant on one, which is the only way that the administration could have done this ‘legally’ and still tried to cover its tracks afterward. I know this, you know this… and, most importantly, surely so does the Obama administration. It’s insane crazy to think that they could think [they'd] get away with something like this.

And yet.

There’s a passage from Tom Wolfe’s interesting The Bonfire of the Vanities that comes to mind, at times like these:

The Masters of the Universe were a set of lurid, rapacious plastic dolls that [protagonist Sherman McCoy's] otherwise perfect daughter liked to play with. They looked like Norse gods who lifted weights, and they had names such as Dracon, Ahor, Mangelred, and Blutong. They were unusually vulgar, even for plastic toys. Yet one fine day, in a fit of euphoria, after he had picked up the telephone and taken an order for zero-coupon bonds that had brought him a $50,000 commission, just like that, this very phrase had bubbled up into his brain. On Wall Street he and a few others — how many? — three hundred, four hundred, five hundred? — had become precisely that … Masters of the Universe. There was … no limit whatsoever!

Sherman McCoy, of course, goes on to wreck his life via the application of poor decision-making skills; with said wrecking taking full advantage of the arrogance and recklessness that thinking yourself a ‘Master of the Universe’ entails. And this is something that we often see in politics, no? I can think of a half-dozen cases (without trying hard*) where prominent, national-level politicians were disgraced and forced out of public life for making incredibly foolish, and easily avoidable, mistakes: but what is a ‘mistake’ to a GOD? …And it’s amazing how many politicians succumb to that delusion after their second or third re-election.

All of which means: I would like to believe that the Obama administration didn’t directly order that Sharyl Attkisson’s computer be hacked. I am even ready to operate as if they didn’t deliver that order. But I really can’t be sure that they weren’t that stupid (this Storify reminds us that Team Obama is certainly capable of hardcore shenanigans), and neither should you.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

*Seriously:

  • Don’t appoint your gay adulterous lover to a key position in your state government.
  • Don’t be in a position where you have evade wire transfer laws in order to pay off your hooker debts.
  • Don’t go and get one woman pregnant while your wife is dying of cancer.
  • Don’t send pictures of your penis to girls that you know only from the Internet.
  • Don’t grope your staff in an election year where Jesus Christ would have difficulty winning a swing district on the Democratic ticket.
  • Don’t dress up as a tiger and do… anything, really.

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