My Pet Jawa on MSNBC: Bloggers Beat Mainstream Press Again

An image from My Pet Jawa was shown on MSNBC last night. The image was from a story I broke on Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's website being hacked on 9/22 (story here). The image can be found below, in the extended entry. Despite my best efforts to get mainstream media outlets to run the story, none did. However, a number of bloggers took up the call to arms and the news slowly got out. I received hundreds of e-mails asking for Zarqawi's website address from that original post and it's follow up. The image I grabbed from Zarqawi's website also was reposted on dozens of other blogger's websites.

Yesterday, Zarqawi's website was hacked again (story here). That news was broken by Chad Evans at In the Bullpen (story here). Luckily, Chad grabbed an image from the website before the webhost fixed the problem. Both hacks were done by a group calling themselves "TeAmZ USA", their website is here.

A number of bloggers, including me, ran the story yesterday. By late afternoon, a poster at Free Republic had mentioned the hack. By yesterday evening at least one internet news source was running the story, and by late evening Reuters had picked it up (Reuters story here).

Last night I was flipping through the news networks and tuned in to MSNBC for a few minutes. They also picked up the story. They ran three images as background, all from the internet. One of them I didn't recognize, one of them was a screenshot saved by Global Terror Alert (the URL was embedded on the image, thus showing the MSNBC producer had simply grabbed it from the internet), and the last made me jump out of bed. It was the screenshot I had saved from the original hack job done by TeAmZ USA on August 22 (see below for image)!!! The hack job that I actually e-mailed a number of "legitimate news outlets" about. The hack job that not a single mainstream media source had announced.

Interesting enough, the broadcaster on MSNBC described the penguin image left by TeAmZ USA in their hack yesterday (image here) but didn't actually show a picture of it. This leads me to conclude that the producer of the story read the Reuters story, which also describes the penguin image, and then did a quick internet search. Interestingly enough, if you do a Google search for "Zarqawi website hacked" my original story is number three. The first two search returns are to other bloggers (Jeff Quinton and Chris Short) who essentially repost the story and link back to me. In fact, every single search return from the front page is a link to a reposting of my original story or to the image I grabbed. Hence, the only images the "real journalists" could find were ones from old hack jobs. The journalists covering this story had not actually broken any news. They were simply repeating what other news sources said, which was ultimatly just a rehashing of a blogger's post.

Again, bloggers and Freepers break and disseminate a news story. The mainstream press picks up on the story. This time, though, bloggers get zero credit for their footwork. Amazing.

UPDATE: Chad says no one from any MSM outlet contacted him about the story he broke. None contacted me about my earlier post either. Notice this from the Reuters story:

"Host them and your next!" was the message left on the site by the hackers, calling themselves TeAmZ USA, who have already attacked several Islamist and pro-al Qaeda Web sites.
Since no MSM ever carried a news report about TeAmZ USA's hacking jobs how did the reporter know of their prior activities? I can only assume they got their "back story" by reading blog reports or the Free Republic website.

UPDATE II: Chad's thoughts here. While not exactly mainstream press, Techweb News (industry journal) does link Chad's article today. We're both still waiting for a call from Chris Mathews. I'll agree to an interview as long as Michelle Malkin shows up in her pajamas.

Posted by: Rusty at 08:55 AM


1 That is pretty interesting. I noticed the Reuters story last night but that was the only mention I thought htis would gain from anyone in the MSM. It is also interesting that other forms of the MSM take images and ideas from those of us yet of course do not attribute them. If this happened accross the MSM there would be a civil war in the media.

Posted by: Chad Evans at September 29, 2004 10:08 AM

2 And they will keep doing so until they are sued. Last year the Flea was the only source for a bit of breaking news that was picked up uncredited by a very prominent columnist. I was glad the story got the attention it did but frustrated that my worked helped earn his salary and increase his reputation. On the plus side, bloggers will get more credit as more folks abandon the half-assed secondary sources that currently earn $7m a year to pass off forgeries and rumour as news.

Posted by: Ghost of a flea at September 29, 2004 10:22 AM

3 You know Flea, the issue with me isn't about giving credit to the bloggers, it's about the way that the MSM is going. They are in an era of taking news from various sources, which is good, but not doing any research into it. What research could MSNBC possibly have done to corraborate this story? Rusty was probably the only person to have seen the site the first time when the story actually broke and I may have been the only one to have seen the site the second time period since it was put back up rather quickly.

If I was a journalist, and I do work in the field, I wouldn't take the word of some hack who runs a web site. I'd do the research myself and try to determine if it indeed happen. I would assume no one from MSNBC contacted Rusty and I can assure you that I never recieved any contact from MSNBC or Reuters either.

It is reasonable to assume that MSNBC got the story from Reuters, but how does that explain the picture of the penguin coming out of a computer screen? There is no mention of that in the Reuters report that I read. How did Reuters get the story? Probably from some no-good pajama bloggers, hardly a credible source.

Posted by: Chad Evans at September 29, 2004 10:55 AM

4 Actually, Chad e-mailed me about the story. I got in at 8 a.m. CDT, checked the website out at about 8:10. By 8:30 or so I had a post up about it. When I double checked the site at about 8:30 the hack was over and the image was down. Luckily chad had thought of snapping an image of it. The Reuters story I checked out described the penguin image. There was a news story on it last night, but I can't find it now at Google News. It was on something called P2Pnet or something, but it just reported that a person at Free Republic had posted about the hack. Since a lot of Freepers read my blog, and I assume Chad's blog too, I have a feeling they were just reporting what they saw on our posts (or one of the other bloggers who linked Chad's initial report). The Reuters story came later and they reported that TeAmZ USA had hacked BEFORE, meaning they must have done their background research by reading either my original post or another blogger's post on it. No, none, nada, zilcho MSM ran with that original story.

Posted by: Rusty Shackleford at September 29, 2004 11:12 AM

5 The MSM are all checking in on the freepers now, hoping they don't miss the next big thing. Good job Rusty but it is dissappointing there was no contact with you or verification. Are they embaressed to say they got the story from a blogger?

Posted by: Jane at September 29, 2004 11:32 AM

6 I think you may have hit the nail no the head Jane. Either it is an issue of the MSM not wanting to admit they got their story from shady sources or it could be that they just do not care. Either way it's a bad sign.

Posted by: Chad Evans at September 29, 2004 11:40 AM

7 Unfortunately this is not new. The mainstream press regularly started using blogs as background (or outright unnamed sources) last year during the Iraq war.

They started checking "alternative" sources well before that. How many times do you think this has happened to Matt Drudge?

When it happens to me, and it has, I just take it as a positive sign. At least they're reading and at least we have influence. You gotta start somewhere.

Posted by: John Little at September 29, 2004 12:00 PM

8 Much as I love you, the name of your blog is going to kill it ever being mentioned on a news program. No anchor can say "My Pet Jawa" with a straight face.

Posted by: Dylan at September 29, 2004 12:01 PM

9 Dylan may have a point.

Posted by: Jane at September 29, 2004 12:23 PM

10 True, but the name is just great...aint it?

Posted by: Rusty Shackleford at September 29, 2004 12:33 PM

11 I have a hard enough typing the site name without laughing at the image of a man petting a jawa in my head much less trying to say it on national television.

Posted by: Chad Evans at September 29, 2004 02:49 PM

12 Think Andy Kaufman. Yeah, he's my hero.

Posted by: Rusty Shackleford at September 29, 2004 02:55 PM

13 For the record, Techweb did not contact me to discuss the hacking of the site as well. The continued ignoring of sources leads me to believe that people in the blogosphere could pull of a hoax of enormous size and the MSM and other media outlets would run it as truth.

Like I've said on my site, who's to say that Rusty didn't make up the previous screen shot and I made up the latest one?

Posted by: Chad Evans at September 29, 2004 02:57 PM

14 The site name is genius... and soon... so soon... Dan Rather himself will be forced to mouth the words! That's right. I said it!

Posted by: Ghost of a flea at September 29, 2004 04:53 PM

15 So what are you going to lead the news with tomorrow?

Posted by: Simon at September 30, 2004 12:32 AM

16 Definately up for a bit of double checking the press.

A bit like when the press smuggle knives onto planes, or even fake/pretend bomb making equipment into the houses of parliament.

A public service, i do believe.

Posted by: jon at September 30, 2004 05:45 AM

17 It is a funny thought to picture MS people reading Free Republic. That it is a legitimate source has got to be hard for them to stomach.

Posted by: King of Fools at September 30, 2004 09:01 AM

18 My Pet Jawa may be difficult to "say" with a straight face by a MSM presenter with allocated face time; but it is infinitely more difficult to "say" My Pet Jawa when one's mouth is full of shiite!...


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