TechDirt, Timothy Geigner and Mike Masnick’s false reporting on government computer intrusion case

The following is a new analysis

Mike Masnick publishes the propaganda blog “TechDirt”

So many errors; so little time.

This time the false reporting comes in an article by Timothy Geigner, who calls himself a “technology consultant” for a blog called “TechDirt,” run by Mike Masnick.

Timothy Geigner, author of false propaganda in “TechDirt”

From start to finish, the article is an embarrassing work of propaganda, replete with obvious errors.

But it’s more than just silly; it’s damaging, as well. It’s likely there are many people who would read this blog and not know that its information is unreliable and untrue.

Geiger never contacted me before publishing his deceptive and misleading article about my lawsuit against federal agents over the government’s computer intrusions– and he got just about everything wrong.

Below, you can read my letter to Masnick, TechDirt and its affiliate, Copia.

Dear Editors:

I’m writing with a serious complaint about a false and slanderous article about me published in TechDirt and written by Timothy Geigner.

Though I was not familiar with your publication, a reader sent me a link to the false article, commenting that it was full of malicious errors.

I visited your site and read that your publication strives to “analyze and offer insight into news stories” and “Some see us as a source for business editorial and economic research, some as a place for legal analysis.” 

Since that is the case, it’s imperative that you correct the false and damaging information in Timothy Geigner’s article immediately. 

Overall, in his malicious and reckless article, Timothy Geigner attempts to discredit me and the lawsuit I have filed against the government over the forensically-proven unlawful surveillance of me and my family.

Among other slurs, Timothy Geigner uses all the propaganda buzz words, associating me and the lawsuit claims with “crazy pants,” “giant conspiracy,” and “tinfoil hat crowd.” More importantly, he misrepresents and asserts provably false information. 

It’s not as if the accurate facts were not readily available to Timothy Geigner had he made even a modest effort to seek them out. For example, the court documents— none of them disputing the lawsuit theory or facts, or implying their are off-base or “crazy pants”— are publicly available. As the courts repeatedly stated in denying early efforts by the Justice Department to dismiss the lawsuit, the claims are “credible” and to be accepted as true at this stage.

Even to the extent that Timothy Geigner may argue he simply relied on misinformation or misreporting distributed by propaganda blogs such as Media Matters, he had an obligation to seek factual information. In addition to public records, that factual information and links to affidavits and court documents are easily accessible on my website here: 

Many other reporters have relied on this page to accurately report on the lawsuit.

The following is a point-by-point refutation of Timothy Geigner’s multiple false statements.

False claim 1: “Essentially, she took a bunch of the same technological glitches all of us deal with on a daily basis — flickering television screens, a stuck backspace key on her computer — and wove that into a giant conspiracy against her and her reporting.”

Fact: Nowhere have I made any claim that any of these technological glitches (none of them accurately described by Timothy Geigner) prove a “giant conspiracy” against me and my reporting. As court documents and affidavits detail, the “giant conspiracy” was surfaced and proven by forensic examination and government intelligence sources. 

False claim 2: “She made a big deal in the suit…over some ‘computer experts’ she relied on to confirm that she was a victim of government hacking, except those experts remained largely anonymous and were even, in some cases, third party people she’d never met.

Fact: Timothy Geigner attempts to discredit the forensics my lawsuit relies on by claiming the experts are faceless, unreliable phantoms who may not exist at all. In fact, the forensic experts have not “remained largely anonymous” and are not “third party people [I’d] never met.” Though the case has not made it to the stage where the full forensics reports are presented for a jury’s consideration, the analysts are far from “anonymous.” First: CBS News publicly announced the remote computer intrusions based on forensic evidence from an independent examination the network hired, and I met them all (they are not anonymous). See “CBS News confirms Sharyl Attkisson’s computer hacked.” Second: In court filings, there is an affidavit by a former FBI unit chief involved in forensics examinations. Third: In court filings, there is an affidavit by a former NSA analyst who conducted forensics and confirmed the government intrusions, In part, Scantling summarizes: “There can be no reasonable question that an [Advanced Persistent Threat]-style cyber-attack was carried on Attkisson’s computer systems and Internet connection. Specifically, the APT methods deployed against [Attkisson’s] computers and Internet connection…were sophisticated and of the type only available to government-type activities and operations.” Fourth: Yet another independent forensic analyst unearthed the government IP addresses involved. Several of them are detailed in the summary filed in the court complaint. 

False claim 3: Timothy Geigner claims the “duality” theory in my lawsuit is as follows: “Namely, that the federal government is so nefarious and great at hacking that they completely compromised nearly every machine Attkisson used at work and at home, but that same federal government was too stupid to mask the IP address from which it launched these attacks.Fact: Nowhere do I make any such claim.

In fact, the federal government was not “too stupid” to mask the government IP addresses it used (which are established as forensic fact, never disputed). Forensics prove the government intruders erased their tracks, including the IP addresses, once they were discovered. We were able to recover them only because we had forensics government intelligence experts familiar with government tools who were able to recover the evidence.

A final note on the evidence not mentioned by Timothy Geigner: a deposition of government official Cliff Biram, referenced in the court records, confirmed the IP addresses forensically proven to have been used in the intrusions of my computers were controlled and owned by the government. 

Further indicating his malicious intent, Timothy Geigner tops off his article filled with false assertions with snide commentary: “After all, she must certainly have another book to write and promote soon.” 

Only Timothy Geigner knows why he set out to write a misleading and false article trying to discredit my lawsuit. He shows unusual interest in some details, while purposely misrepresenting or disregarding the facts.

Had Timothy Geigner wished to get his assertions and facts straight, he could have contacted me or my attorneys, or even read the lawsuits and documents he comments on, or quoted from the appropriate documents, or at least mentioned that they exist. Any of these efforts would have served to refute his false information. But he demonstrated reckless disregard for the truth by not bothering to reach out.

Read the false and malicious article below, which remains irresponsibly uncorrected even after multiple notifications, as of this publication.

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15 thoughts on “TechDirt, Timothy Geigner and Mike Masnick’s false reporting on government computer intrusion case”

    1. Trollin.For.Trump!

      @Colin – Thanks for the link.
      Well it was all we could hope for somebody maxing their education out with a 2 year AA degree majoring in business & psychology … and proud of it !!

      But hey, Timothy’s intense experience 5 years later as a Trivia Adjudicator at the Four Corners Tavern has proven to be a fertile ground for his imaginative & fictional wit to bloom! ;-))

  1. Great job, Sharyl, a massive take down.

    BTW, I thoroughly enjoyed your book, Slanted.

    If you haven’t seen it, Viva Frei (Montreal litigator turned vlawger) and attorney Robert Barnes discuss your case in the below presentation. They take time to list your impressive credentials:

  2. Joseph T Buckley

    You should contact attorney L. Lin Wood. He will take any money these guys have and acquire it for you. It’s the only way to stop false information from being published.

  3. For years I was a competitive analyst for my company and learned with experience to detect how companies mislead their customers. The most common practice was for a marketing person to maximize a product’s strengths while minimizing a product’s weaknesses. In other words, the writer/marketing person tries to convince the reader/customer to weight the various product criteria in a way that obscures a product’s obvious disadvantages. Sometimes, though, companies would simply lie. This was rare. And the companies who did this were simply inept and lazy.

    But in the article written about your court case, by Mr. Geigner and approved by Mr. Masnick, I think it is even worse. Yes, they lied, but seemed to lie so boldly and so openly that they had little fear of being caught, or, if caught, of being censored. Who thinks that way? Who stakes their money and reputation on a project, in this case, on the blog TechDirt, and recklessly risks it all – unless they felt there really was no risk. And in their world, perhaps there is no risk for lying as long as it is lying for the right cause – to discredit an honest journalist. Their readers don’t care about the truth any more than the writer and publisher do. Anyway, Sharyl, you are fighting the good fight, and good and honest people recognize that.

    1. I couldn’t have said this better. I, too, once worked in advertising as a writer and producer. “Persuasion” was the accepted “little white lie” and boldly lying was out of the question.

      Sharyl’s letter is brilliant. I have hope that these people apologize and rescind the story. But if not, I trust that this particular example of the bizarre and dark reality of our times is chronicled. For the generations in the future who will look back on this, let us at least leave a record of the battles we are fighting now.

      Fight on, Sharyl Attkisson. Your journey is the heroes journey.

  4. “ Under current law, before public figures can recover on a defamation claim, they must prove that a defamatory comment was made with knowledge that it was false, or with a reckless disregard for its truth or falsity (the malice standard).”

    Sounds like a clear and reckless disregard for the truth in this case. If they don’t issue a correction and an apology, you and your lawyers know what to do.

  5. It’s sad that people like this pretend to be journalists. The only way they will change their behavior is through litigation.
    I am grateful that I can count on you for factual news.
    Thank you !

  6. I hope you are considering suing them for defamation if they don’t take down the article and issue a public apology in its place.

  7. Sharyl, you are far and way my favorite “tin foil conspiracy theorist” of all time. If what you do is “conspiracy theorizing” (a label which labels its user as either profoundly ignorant or a propagandist), then we should all belong to the conspiracy theorist/tin foil hat club.

  8. Unfortunately, while the points are all excruciatingly true, we are up against people who just don’t care about truth. Their business model is an armada of untruth crop dusters made possible by the fact that at any point, no matter how wrong they are, they will have a following of that 20-35% who believe whatever you say to malign the “other team”.
    No one who follows Sharyl reads this clown, so his followers will be blithely unaware of his rot.
    The last refuge of the the just might be justice. Find a good defamation/libel lawyer who takes cases like this and stick them in the only sentient part they have left… their wallet.

  9. The “agency” used to secretly employ “journalists” (Operation Mockingbird character assassination “journalists”) to write articles *exactly* like this one, to disparage, ridicule and smear people who wrote books on topics they didn’t want the public to know about. This began in earnest when people began writing books and speaking out publicly about the JFK assassination conspiracy, and subsequent cover-up.
    There is even an “official” document from the agency detailing EXACTLY how to smear and slander people who DARE to expose the truth to the public. Like Gary Webb and Michael Hastings, to name just a few.
    PS: Speaking of the government secretly spying on journalists, have you seen this Sharyl?

    1. I don’t know about the JFK assassination books since so many of them come to different conclusions. Which agency do you mean? The ever-present and ubiquitous CIA?

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