The Washington Post has been forced to back down off another sensationalist blockbuster and seems to be hellbent at setting the gold standard for fake news. Last Friday the WAPO generated a wave of media hysteria with the story that the evil Russians had penetrated the Vermont power grid.
Coming on the heels of bitter Barry Obama’s Thursday afternoon temper tantrum during which he kicked 35 Russian diplomats out of the country, the WAPO story was picked up and ran with despite the fact that it was total bullshit. The crackerjack ‘reporters’ at the crown jewel of Jeff Bezos’ empire had not bothered to actually contact the Burlington utility to verify that it had indeed been hacked.
Now the WAPO has been forced to retract the story, the second time that the paper has suffered such an embarrassment in just over a month (see PropOrNot).
The New York Post reports “Washington Post retracts story about Russian hack at Vermont utility”:
The Washington Post has retracted its story about Russian hackers penetrating the nation’s electricity grid with a virus found in a Burlington, Vt., electric company laptop.
“Authorities say there is no indication of that so far [that Russians had penetrated the US electric grid],” according to an editor’s note attached to a corrected version of the story on the paper’s website.
“The computer at Burlington Electric that was hacked was not attached to the grid,” the editor’s note read.
News of the supposed hack had set off a firestorm of recriminations, with Vermont leaders calling Russian President Vladimir Putin “a thug” earlier Saturday, after one of the state’s electric utilities found a virus on a laptop computer.
A utility spokesman has also told the Burlington Free Press the laptop was not hooked into the grid.
The WAPO ran a story copping to their own hoax “Russian government hackers do not appear to have targeted Vermont utility, say people close to investigation”:
As federal officials investigate suspicious Internet activity found last week on a Vermont utility computer, they are finding evidence that the incident is not linked to any Russian government effort to target or hack the utility, according to experts and officials close to the investigation.
An employee at Burlington Electric Department was checking his Yahoo email account Friday and triggered an alert indicating that his computer had connected to a suspicious IP address associated by authorities with the Russian hacking operation that infiltrated the Democratic Party. Officials told the company that traffic with this particular address is found elsewhere in the country and is not unique to Burlington Electric, suggesting the company wasn’t being targeted by the Russians. Indeed, officials say it is possible that the traffic is benign, since this particular IP address is not always connected to malicious activity.
The investigation by officials began Friday, when the Vermont utility reported its alert to federal authorities, some of whom told The Washington Post that code associated with the Russian hackers had been discovered within the system of an unnamed Vermont utility. On Friday evening, The Post published its report, and Burlington Electric released a statement identifying itself as the utility in question and saying the firm had “detected the malware” in a single laptop. The company said in its statement that the laptop was not connected to its grid systems.
The Post initially reported incorrectly that the country’s electric grid had been penetrated through a Vermont utility. After Burlington Electric released its statement saying that the potentially compromised laptop had not been connected to the grid, The Post immediately corrected its article and later added an editor’s note explaining the change.
Don’t expect the Washington Post’s latest oh shit moment to result in any firings or the cessation of publishing fake news. With less than three weeks until Donald Trump’s inauguration there is time for several more big cooked up controversies about the Donald and the Russkies.