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Rumbled by Robert Graham

February 7, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

Criticising Richard Engel’s report on getting hacked in Sochi, Errata Security’s Robert Graham gave away our greatest secret:

By the way, the easy way to figure out where journalists commit fraud is by watching for “passive voice”. Journalists normally avoid passive voice, preferring stronger language. But, when they need to hide things, they passive voice to cover up details. Saying “was hacked” covers up the fact that Richard Engel hacked himself by knowingly downloading a hostile Android app. In other word, active voice wouldn’t have worked, because it would have required identifying who put the virus on the phone. He couldn’t report that a “hacker put the virus on the phone” because the hacker didn’t, Richard Engel did. He couldn’t very well have reported, in the active voice, “I downloaded the virus”. Thus, the passive voice, “the phone was hacked”, avoiding this inconvenient detail of who did what.

Damn. We’ve been rumbled.

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