According the the NYT’s coverage of today’s WikiLeaks trove (only a small percentage have been released publicly, the rest have been reviewed by the Times):
China’s Politburo directed the intrusion into Google’s computer systems in that country, a Chinese contact told the American Embassy in Beijing in January, one cable reported. The Google hacking was part of a coordinated campaign of computer sabotage carried out by government operatives, private security experts and Internet outlaws recruited by the Chinese government. They have broken into American government computers and those of Western allies, the Dalai Lama and American businesses since 2002, cables said.
However, there is nothing in this reporting that justifies how TechCrunch headlined its coverage:
WikiLeaked Diplomatic Cables Confirm China’s Politburo Was Behind Google Hacking Incident
No, guys, it does not confirm it. Re-read that paragraph. It says one source told another that it was the government. That does not qualify as a “confirmation” in any journalistic sense.
I searched for the original cable, but it has not been released yet. All we have is the summary above.
6 thoughts on “Not Proof, but Another Lead: WikiLeaks’ Latest Includes Google/China Tip”
A good catch and call out, John. What I’ve read today generally makes me feel proud of the job our State Department field staff has done over many years to provide objective, helpful insights up the chain of command.
As usual, another link bait headline by TechCrunch.
That’s good news, John. So our State Department to be more alert to problems that could threaten our government through the U.S. government computer.
To be fair to Techcrunch, The Guardian are running with this line in one of their stories on the topic –
“How the hacker attacks which forced Google to quit China in January were orchestrated by a senior member of the Politburo who typed his own name into the global version of the search engine and found articles criticising him personally.”
Scott Shane reported from Washington, and Andrew W. Lehren from New York. Reporting was contributed by Jo Becker, C. J. Chivers and James Glanz from New York; Eric Lichtblau, Michael R. Gordon, David E. Sanger, Charlie Savage, Eric Schmitt and Ginger Thompson from Washington; and Jane Perlez from Islamabad, Pakistan.
Just because other news organizations succumb to “link bait” temptations does not make it right.
At best, it misinforming us (not what news should do), at worst its deceitful for the sake of page views.
We should demand better of all them.