Join 3,382 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


NBC Dateline reporter busted at hacker conference
August 5, 2007 1:52 AM   Subscribe

To Catch a Reporter. NBC Dateline producer Michelle Madigan tries to go undercover at the DefCon 14 security convention - and bites off more than she can chew. Having been alerted to her presence days before the event, DefCon staff baits the trap with a fake “Spot the Fed” contest. Once she is seated, DefCon organizer Jeff Moss suggests they play “Spot the Undercover Reporter” instead. Knowing the gig’s up, Madigan bolts – and a comical parking lot chase ensues. (Not a good week for Dateline NBC – its producers are being sued for bribing local law-enforcement officials to help them arrange their stings.)
posted by micketymoc (75 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
I think this is magnificent. Who says geeks don't know how to have fun?

Dateline is also the show that put a remote-control bomb in a GM pickup.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 2:26 AM on August 5, 2007


"This is for all those helpless predators."
posted by Poolio at 2:38 AM on August 5, 2007 [6 favorites]


My first thought was this was a clumsy plant to help hide the real "reporter".
posted by Mitheral at 3:15 AM on August 5, 2007


You're right... it seemed way too "convenient". She knew they were on to her even before she walked into the place. She admitted to "goons" that she had a hidden camera on her, even before she stepped into the conference hall. Anybody want to bet that a triumphant "gotcha" Dateline feature is in the works?
posted by micketymoc at 3:47 AM on August 5, 2007


Considering the amount of money that NBC likely has put behind this "story," it's not likely that they'd be so careless. I agree that they probably have something bigger in the works and this was all a ruse to cover the scent.
posted by erstwhile at 3:54 AM on August 5, 2007


What you guys are talking about sounds like the "Gotcha" episode of Entourage.
posted by Poolio at 4:12 AM on August 5, 2007


I agree that they probably have something bigger in the works and this was all a ruse to cover the scent.

If the network news shows have shown us anything in the last 7 years, it is that they are masterminds at ferreting out a story against the odds.
posted by DU at 5:25 AM on August 5, 2007 [6 favorites]


I am wondering why such strange 'undercover' tatctics, when there is nothing to uncover. Those hacker conferences are usually about openess and security. Dateline should air an apology or fire the team responsible for that lame idea.
posted by homodigitalis at 5:41 AM on August 5, 2007


She would've gotten away with it too if it weren't for those meddling kids.
posted by basicchannel at 5:45 AM on August 5, 2007


Also... it's Defcon 15, not 14.
posted by basicchannel at 5:47 AM on August 5, 2007


Show organizers believe that Madigan had been looking to talk to hackers and federal agents, possibly with the intention of drawing attention to the fact that federal agents participate in a show whose attendees are known to skirt the law. "My guess is that she wanted a splash piece along the lines of, 'We have a whole bunch of people who are criminals. We have federal agents here as well,'" Priest said.

Priest, who would only say that he worked in the "government" sector, said that the Dateline segment could have put federal agents at the show at risk by exposing their identities.


Note to micketymoc: it was probably the federal agents at the conference who outed her. I seriously doubt NBC has any other deeper plan here.
posted by mediareport at 6:28 AM on August 5, 2007


Didn't the fact that she had boobs kind of give her away?
posted by graventy at 6:56 AM on August 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


If the network news shows have shown us anything in the last 7 years, it is that they are masterminds at ferreting out a story against the odds.

Unless it evolves the White House.

Why doesn't NBC update their To Catch a Predator piece to focus on the corruption in the current administration. They can call it To Catch a Despot.
posted by Mick at 7:00 AM on August 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


I am wondering why such strange 'undercover' tatctics, when there is nothing to uncover. Those hacker conferences are usually about openess and security.
Ah, but they're OMGHACKERS!!!!! The only thing to be more afraid of than OMGTERRORISTS!!! or OMGPEDOPHILES!!! are OMGHACKERS!!! At least that's what grandma and grandpa (the ones who actually watch this crap anymore) have been taught.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:03 AM on August 5, 2007


It was my understanding that there was talk of cakes and video.

WHERE'S MY CAKES AND VIDEO?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:19 AM on August 5, 2007


I am wondering why such strange 'undercover' tatctics, when there is nothing to uncover.

In most of the article I have read, it is because she wanted to catch people saying they did illegal stuff with computers on film.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 7:34 AM on August 5, 2007


... articles I have read, ...

*goes and makes coffee*
posted by YoBananaBoy at 7:36 AM on August 5, 2007


Mick, recalibrate up your sarcasm detectors.
posted by madamjujujive at 7:54 AM on August 5, 2007


Didn't the fact that she had boobs kind of give her away?

Obviously you've never been to a hacker convention.
posted by bshort at 8:19 AM on August 5, 2007 [8 favorites]


She was trying to convinct them in the court of public opinion, as these things tend to go, so, yeah, she had to be undercover for that. Personally, I hope someone at DefCon finds out that she had a small "career" in pornography, then gets the seething vulture swarm of 4chan to locate it and do their unmerciful but usually entertaining schtick with it.
posted by adipocere at 8:28 AM on August 5, 2007


Wait, I thought we liked it when reporters went undercover to get information about secretive subcultures, or is that just when it's the National Review cruise or that Christian compound in DC?
posted by transona5 at 8:51 AM on August 5, 2007


words can't describe how awesome that was.

wait, they just did.

Favorite part: Her making the wrong turn when trying to leave the parking lot.
posted by toddbass10 at 8:52 AM on August 5, 2007


Personally, I hope someone at DefCon finds out that she had a small "career" in pornography...
That would be so sweet.
I think it would be great if someone DID do a ton of background research on these "guardians of our morals", find something juicy (cheating on your wife?) and then set them up...maybe lure them to some suburban home where you say a pedophile lives...and then turn the encounter around on them. Maybe live webcast, to boot.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:53 AM on August 5, 2007


Wait, I thought we liked it when reporters went undercover to get information about secretive subcultures, or is that just when it's the National Review cruise or that Christian compound in DC?

There's a difference between reporting on assholes and trolling geeks in the hopes of getting them on camera admitting to crimes
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:59 AM on August 5, 2007


Well I guess they showed her.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 9:04 AM on August 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


From the 4th link: "She made the mistake of running. Had she taken it like an adult, she would have been treated with kid gloves, treated with respect."

I don't get it. She was supposed to stand there and wait for someone to "escort" her out? She got up and left (she didn't literally run). I think that's what anyone would do. And that's what she should have done. Well, she shouldn't have broken the rules in the first place, certainly.

The ubiquity of hidden camera reports is annoying. I have seen "hidden camera" reports on things that required no hidden camera. In this case, she probably could have gotten some great stories with a press pass and a promise of anonymity. But, with no video, that doesn't make a very good TV show.
posted by The Deej at 9:07 AM on August 5, 2007


There's a difference between reporting on assholes and trolling geeks in the hopes of getting them on camera admitting to crimes

I don't see the difference. In both cases, the reporter is allowing the general public to hear things that members of the subculture say in front of other members of the subculture. No matter how OMGHACKERS or OMGCONSERVATIVES the slant of the reporting is (and of course we don't know how that Dateline piece would have turned out), it's still putting information out there. It's not being a "guardian of our morals." It's making information free. Information wants to be free, right?
posted by transona5 at 9:07 AM on August 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


The look on her face is classic. She's terrified, not talking. Dateline NBC is some sleazy bullshit.
posted by delmoi at 9:13 AM on August 5, 2007


I don't get it. She was supposed to stand there and wait for someone to "escort" her out?

They offered her a press pass. Even after she filmed the gathering without permission, they offered her a press pass and invited her to stay. She freaked, The Deej. She just freaked. That's part of what makes it so funny - her idiotic, cowardly overreaction.
posted by mediareport at 9:21 AM on August 5, 2007


I don't see the difference. In both cases, the reporter is allowing the general public to hear things that members of the subculture say in front of other members of the subculture.

Well you don't see the difference because you're trying to judge a "relationship" rather then a relationship and it's actors as a system. Or you could say that you're artificially pruning the relationship set.

For example, consider the "shoots" relationship between A and B. Normally if A shoots B, then A is morally wrong. But, consider the situation where B about to stab C. Now we add in that second relationship and suddenly what A does might not seem as immoral.

The thing is, in the real world, the relationship network is very complex. And if you simplify things too much your models no longer reflect the real world.

The major difference between OMGHACKERS and OMGCONSERVATIVES is that these conservatives actually hold power and seek to do things that we would consider "bad." The reporter, on the other hand is trying to invent stories about people in order to profit off people's fear. It's not the act itself that is immoral, it's the goal and effect of the act.
posted by delmoi at 9:22 AM on August 5, 2007


I don't have a problem (in principle) with an undercover reporter going to DefCon and attempting to do some hidden-camera filming. I also don't have a problem with DefCon attendees blowing her cover and publicly humiliating her.

I do have a problem with a sensationalist "news" show like Dateline manufacturing and capitalizing on fear of whatever.

I'm not a hacker, and I've never been to DefCon. It's clear from the articles about this story that feds routinely appear at DefCon, so if you are a hacker at DefCon, you already should know to be circumspect when talking to someone you don't know about your l33t exploits. Right?

It'll be interesting to see how Dateline deals with this mess, if at all. I'm guessing they didn't get a lot of juicy footage of hackers bragging that they totally 0wnzor the air-traffic control system. What they do have footage of is hackers being a bunch of big meanies and chasing away the nice reporter. Are they going to go with that angle? That hackers are a bunch of big meanies? Or perhaps that they're so tight-lipped about their nefarious exploits that they must be up to no good?

Yeah. I think that'll be the angle. The perfect Dateline story: manufacturing a scary story where you have exactly zero material to work with.
posted by adamrice at 9:47 AM on August 5, 2007


I felt bad for her. Maybe because she was kind of cute.

And also because that DefCon conference looked absolutely ridiculous. She seems to be an inexperienced journalist who learned her lesson to be way more incognito next time. I mean, she's a little dumb. I think after you are offered a press badge you either take it or leave. Which she did... after they smoked her out.

Still, the mob that followed her was kind of embarassing.
posted by ageispolis at 10:17 AM on August 5, 2007


Michelle - you got served.

Good on the hackers, for Dateline's breathless sensationalism has no business masquerading as "news."
posted by porn in the woods at 10:24 AM on August 5, 2007


adamrice: Ms. Madigan was offered a press pass four times, and repeatedly told that hidden cameras were not welcome at DefCon. She had no business attending undercover, and is an idiot for even trying after her cover was blown.

And as for Feds at DefCon: it's my understanding that law enforcement indeed sends representatives to DefCon, but that they don't attend undercover. In fact, I'm told that most law enforcement agencies send recruiters to DefCon, not security personal (or spies).

The main purpose of DefCon, after all, is to bring together the best and brightest from the security world for candid, honest discussion.
posted by jacobian at 10:29 AM on August 5, 2007


So this DefCon, it's a summer camp for T-Shirt enthusiasts?

Okay, I've gone off and on since Defcon 2. The subculture in question is undeniably bright but very prone to the kind of cantankerous mob rule I see in this clip.

They are well within their rights to eject her. The mob chose the rest of the action, and the vibe is spreading out and getting ugly.

She's doing her terrible job where she may not be paid if she doesn't get a segment on air. That's her choice, but that means that when she's caught, she's caught and that's where it ends. The macabre revenge fantasies I'm seeing in this thread (though you're not alone) peg out my creep-o-meter.

Pretty much any attention DateLine or this producer receive for this bit will give more opportunity to play the victim.

Also, I can't help but detect a stink of misogyny in the responses. I know full well the gender ratio is more mixed than you'd think at DefCon; but it's not so mixed as to make me feel like the response would be the same if this producer had a penis.

Or a black T-Shirt.
posted by abulafa at 10:33 AM on August 5, 2007 [5 favorites]


Undercover reporting is nothing new. Dateline has some sleazy stories, but the mob mentality intent upon humiliating and hurting her and language that was tossed at this woman is absolutely disgusting.

I'm actually disappointed so many MeFites think this is somehow "awesome" or funny.
posted by cmgonzalez at 10:33 AM on August 5, 2007


Also, I can't help but detect a stink of misogyny in the responses. I know full well the gender ratio is more mixed than you'd think at DefCon; but it's not so mixed as to make me feel like the response would be the same if this producer had a penis.

I agree completely. Was just about to post again to bring up this very point, since I'd neglected it, but it's already here.
posted by cmgonzalez at 10:35 AM on August 5, 2007


It's kind of fucked up that a relatively clean hit against the powers that be gets marred by all the misogynistic comments.
posted by empath at 10:43 AM on August 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


A milquetoast response from a former colleague of Madigan's.

(Found while researching my instinct that DateLine is, like many other shows with associate producers, prone to reducing that staff to serfdom in competition for airtime.)
posted by abulafa at 10:44 AM on August 5, 2007


they should make a mockumentary of nbc reporters named michelle
posted by phaedon at 10:57 AM on August 5, 2007


Looks like Michelle Madigan has removed her LinkedIn profile (cached version).
posted by ericb at 11:05 AM on August 5, 2007


Even after she filmed the gathering without permission, they offered her a press pass and invited her to stay. She freaked, The Deej. She just freaked. That's part of what makes it so funny - her idiotic, cowardly overreaction.

Thanks for the input, mediareport.

Yeah, she was an idiot, and it was obvious they were on to her, yet somehow she thought she would get away with it.

I guess my nit-picky point is when the unnamed official says:
"She made the mistake of running. Had she taken it like an adult, she would have been treated with kid gloves, treated with respect,"
it makes me wonder what "taking it like an adult" means in this context. She was caught, and she bolted. I think at that point she had no option. Is the official saying that "taking it like an adult" means she should have sat there until she was "escorted out"? That would have allowed an even bigger crowd to converge around her, and frankly in those kinds of situations, you don't know if someone will become violent.

And don't think that "geeks" can't get violent. Let me remind you of the awful riot between conflicting geek-groups recounted here.

So, if you are keeping score at home: Yes she was stupid, yes I hate the whole "gotcha" ethic of modern "reporting," yes she should have gotten a press pass and gone by the rules, but no, I didn't find it funny. I'm sure there is some satisfaction in turning the tables on Dateline though. And I would have hoped the mocking by the crowd following her would have been wittier.
posted by The Deej at 11:19 AM on August 5, 2007


It's kind of fucked up that a relatively clean hit against the powers that be gets marred by all the misogynistic comments.

Totally. Between the "This is for all you bitches I assumed would turn me down so I never talked to them" stupid comments and the emcee's incredibly overblown and overlong "This is my moment" oversell, I wound up feeling kind of bad for her, even though she works for a soulless show that made me feel bad for pederasts. Must be getting old.
posted by yerfatma at 11:22 AM on August 5, 2007


"Our intrepid reporter tried to get to the bottom of this 'so-called' convention, but, perhaps due to the infamously effective internet pervert communications network, was exposed and forced to flee what could only be described as a lynch mob of pedophiles, compulsive masturbators, and suspected Catholics. They may have won this small battle, but we assure you, we will win this battle to keep our children safe."

"Next, after the break: Just like picket fences, apple pie, and tax breaks for the wealthy, adopting a pet is part of the American Dream. But for one family, it turned into a nightmare when they realized they had impulse-purchased more than they bargained for:"

[Cut to clip of tearful parent] 'I-I walked in, and Mr. Waggles was on my eight-year-old's leg.... *sobs, dabs corner of heavily made up eye with tissue* his tongue, hanging out of his mouth, he made the most awful panting noise- I'm sorry, I need- I need a second... '

"The Pedigreed Predator, when Dateline returns."
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:32 AM on August 5, 2007 [6 favorites]


Dammit, "... win this war to keep our children safe."
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:38 AM on August 5, 2007


Wow, those people following her come off really badly...
posted by SweetJesus at 11:54 AM on August 5, 2007


the whole "gotcha" ethic of modern "reporting,"

Brings to mind ABC's "Prime Time Live" hidden camera report, investigating the Food Lion supermarket chain.
"On November 5, 1992, the ABC News Magazine "Prime Time Live" broadcast one of its high profile investigative reports. The story accused Food Lion, an 1100-store grocery chain, of selling old food, cheese gnawed by rats, and spoiled meat washed in bleach to kill the odor. ABC used some controversial techniques to learn about Food Lion. Two producers worked undercover in two North Carolina supermarkets, lying on their resumes to get the jobs. They each wore a wig hiding a tiny lipstick-sized camera, and each carried a concealed microphone. Citing the ongoing case, ABC declined to allow the NewsHour to show any of the footage.

Food Lion did not deny the undercover report's allegations, but two months before the story aired, the company filed suit against ABC, charging the network with fraud, trespassing, and other deception. On December 20th last year a Greensboro, North Carolina jury ruled against ABC. Ten days later the jury awarded Food Lion $1,402 in compensatory damages. Their grocery chain had sought twice that amount as compensation for wages paid to producers, plus the company's costs to train them. But that's not the end of the story. Food Lion is also seeking up to $2 billion in punitive damages to 'deter illegal conduct' by news organizations."*
BTW -- The jury verdict was eventually overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Virginia. According to the court, even though ABC was wrong to do what they had done, they felt that Food Lion was unable to show that they had been directly injured by ABC's actions.

Beyond ABC v. Food Lion -- "Are deceptive practices by a news organization justified if they reveal deceptive practices by others? How serious do suspected abuses have to be to warrant reporters' going undercover to expose them? Should certain kinds of journalistic deception be prohibited by law?"
posted by ericb at 11:56 AM on August 5, 2007



And as for Feds at DefCon: it's my understanding that law enforcement indeed sends representatives to DefCon, but that they don't attend undercover. In fact, I'm told that most law enforcement agencies send recruiters to DefCon, not security personal (or spies).


From the first article:

"Federal law enforcement agents from FBI, DoD, United States Postal Inspection Service and other agencies regularly attend DefCon to gather intelligence on the latest techniques of hackers. DefCon holds an annual contest called Spot the Fed, in which attendees out people in the audience they think are undercover federal agents. The contest is good-natured, but the feds who get caught are generally ones who don't mind getting caught."

Those people following her were the politest mob I've ever seen - possibly not their intent. You could almost hear them thinking, Quick, I've got to come up with super witty before she gets away! What will I say? *silence while mob marshalls thoughts* I'll make a Lindsey Lohan joke - no, it turned out lame and wrong. Oh, well...
posted by frobozz at 12:09 PM on August 5, 2007


Personally, I hope someone at DefCon finds out that she had a small "career" in pornography...

Yeah, totally. I bet she did, too. Bitch. Most of the bitches on television have had porn careers, you know. Filthy sluts. Man, I really hope those fucking whores get what they deserve.
posted by flashboy at 12:11 PM on August 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


That was geeky. They could have handled it with grace and decorum, taking the high road. Instead it turned into a physical manifestation of an Xbox Live match.

The difference between this and how other conference handle what they don't like (remember the huffington post evangelical post a while back?) is that Defcon welcomed her and repeatedly offered a press pass. I'm sure they could have found more than a few people to have honest, enlightening interviews. Instead, they wanted to find some socially backward kid and place a mildly attractive blonde in front of him admitting that he did something illegal, but inconsequential.
posted by geoff. at 12:38 PM on August 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Seriously though, a sizable percentage of that crowd probably does have several gigs of "pictures of my nephew I swear" on a freenet node somewhere.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 1:06 PM on August 5, 2007


I'm sure they could have found more than a few people to have honest, enlightening interviews. Instead, they wanted to find some socially backward kid and place a mildly attractive blonde in front of him admitting that he did something illegal, but inconsequential.

Exactly. And to all you folks crying about how awful and anti-woman this is, be sure to explain why they sent a pretty blonde woman as an undercover reporter in a male-dominated room.

They knew exactly what they were doing. No amount of juvenile after-the-fact misogyny from some internet observers (sad as that is) can erase the fundamentally sleazy and dishonest nature of what Madigan was there to do.
posted by mediareport at 1:09 PM on August 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


You could almost hear them thinking, Quick, I've got to come up with super witty before she gets away! What will I say? *silence while mob marshalls thoughts* I'll make a Lindsey Lohan joke - no, it turned out lame and wrong. Oh, well...

I hesitate to make this generality, but my long history with "dork posses" warrants observation. Hang out with any nerd group (from department meeting coffee clatch to convention mob) long enough and discourse will eventually sink to this nadir. As if a sort of intellectual oneupmanship, nerds will start to crack one-liners that I guess sounded amazingly biting in their heads, but just sort of fall flat on the outside. It's like instead of regular social interaction, they begin to swing for the fences, and only rarely connecting. I've seen normals do this too, but nerds take it to a spectacular AMIRITE art form.
posted by quite unimportant at 1:24 PM on August 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


No amount of juvenile after-the-fact misogyny from some internet observers (sad as that is) can erase the fundamentally sleazy and dishonest nature of what Madigan was there to do.

Nor does the fundamentally sleazy and dishonest nature of what Madigan was there to do erase the misogyny exhibited by the internet observers.
posted by misskaz at 1:40 PM on August 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


Right. It's bad. But the "mob" wasn't guilty of that.
posted by mediareport at 1:46 PM on August 5, 2007


I'm a Vegas native, and still call it home (although my wife wants to move). I attended DefCon every year from DC-5 through DC-12. That was back when it was held exclusively at the Alexis Park Hotel. The Army has unfortunately had me busy every year at that time since, but I've heard so many horror stories involving the transition to the Riviera that I'm not so sure I feel bad about missing it.

NBC has been trying to stir up sensationalized news for a while; this is no new trend. While shock-and-awe news that plays to fear is more strongly utilized by hardcore Republicans than anyone else, it still occurs across the full spectrum and is a disturbing practice any time it happens.

DefCon has very explicit rules, and the reasons for them are well-defined and largely agreed upon as in the greater good. She went undercover for only a few potential reasons: to catch people admitting to illegal (and largely inconsequential) activities; to catch feds interacting with suspected criminals; to whine about a place where feds, the curious, and criminals can co-exist in peaceful knowledge exchange; or some combination of the three. No matter which criterion is used, it would become a shock piece playing on the "OMG HAXORZ!" fears of the general population, probably for the "noble" goal of getting some worthless reporting award.

This is where things get iffy. Before the public "outing", she was offered a press badge several times and declined. There have been public statements that she could have remained after being outed if she was willing to switch to a press badge right then - certainly a more honorable treatment than would have been present from any other group that found out about an undercover reporter in its midst who was trying to stir up shit. Still, why didn't they offer the badge again publicly right from the podium? Why did they encourage a mass of attendees to the point where they followed her out? Why did so many people follow her and heckle her?

I seem to remember significantly more tact from the average attendee at DefCon back when I attended regularly. Hell, there was more tact in the "Hacker" sub-culture as a whole. Somewhere along the way we've given up trying to educate others about what it means to be a real hacker and have come to the battleground armed with "u r dumb, lol" instead of putting up any real fight. This is a very real war - one against politicians, media, and other fearmongers - and we will lose our rights and our identity if we don't defend ourselves accordingly. Fight for what it means to be a hacker by living that very same code: treat those who seek to destroy you with respect; educate others about what a hacker really is; spur debate and conversation not only amongst yourselves, but with everyone else too; remember that if you give up in an uphill battle things will roll back downhill.
posted by mystyk at 2:15 PM on August 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Still, why didn't they offer the badge again publicly right from the podium?

Uh, they did. Check the video with 3:10 left to go; the speaker at the podium clearly states, "if you'd like to wear a press pass, you're welcome back." *After* the crowd votes to escort her out.
posted by mediareport at 2:53 PM on August 5, 2007


Exactly. And to all you folks crying about how awful and anti-woman this is, be sure to explain why they sent a pretty blonde woman as an undercover reporter in a male-dominated room.

Being "attractive" does not undermine professionalism. It does not undermine the situation here or in any other situation where professional females work. Assuming she was only there as a "pretty blonde" is not a slam against the misogyny shown here; it's not so subtle support of it.

You also assume an awful lot negative about the attendees if you think that sending said "pretty blonde" was an excuse for them not being unable to control themselves..
posted by cmgonzalez at 3:16 PM on August 5, 2007


Err... that should read:

You also assume an awful lot negative about the attendees if you think that sending said "pretty blonde" was an excuse for them being unable to control themselves.
posted by cmgonzalez at 3:21 PM on August 5, 2007


Wait, I thought we liked it when reporters went undercover to get information about secretive subcultures, or is that just when it's the National Review cruise or that Christian compound in DC?

Well, the main difference is, and that's what she failed to take into account, is that people at DefCon are actually pretty damn smart. Much smarter than the average american. So the fact that she somehow was offered a press badge before being outed should have given her a hint. She underestimated the people she was dealing with and paid for it. Maybe next time she will be smarter.
posted by c13 at 3:25 PM on August 5, 2007


The Witch: I'm not a witch I'm not a witch!
Sir Bedevere: But you are dressed as one
The Witch: *They* dressed me up like this!
Crowd: We didn't! We didn't...
The Witch: And this isn't my nose. It's a false one.
Sir Bedevere: [lifts up her false nose] Well?
Peasant 1: Well, we did do the nose.
Sir Bedevere: The nose?
Peasant 1: And the hat, but she is a witch!
Crowd: Yeah! Burn her! Burn her!
Sir Bedevere: Did you dress her up like this?
Peasant 1: No!
Peasant 3, Peasant 2: No!
Peasant 3: No!
Peasant 1: No!
Peasant 3, Peasant 2: No!
Peasant 1: Yes!
Peasant 2: Yes!
Peasant 1: Yeah a bit.
Peasant 3: A bit!
Peasant 1, Peasant 2: A bit!
Peasant 2: a bit
Peasant 1: But she has got a wart!
Random Person in the crowd: *cough* *cough*
posted by sluglicker at 5:18 PM on August 5, 2007


cmgonzales, you miss the point of the comment you last responded to. It's about the potential viewers of the dateline segment, not about her or the attendees.

Also, it's awfully convenient to mix up the approach of the conference, the crowd, and random internet message boards. And dishonest.

They called her out, like they call out any reporter. She got videotaped as she walked out which sucks but it's not all that different from what journalists do and are into doing. Where exactly did DefCon proper exhibit misogyny?
posted by Firas at 5:39 PM on August 5, 2007


Dateline will just kill this story (whatever the story IS, I'm still trying to figure out) because there is no "payoff".

No one was "caught" or found out.
posted by wfc123 at 6:06 PM on August 5, 2007


.. except for the Dateline reporter.
posted by wfc123 at 6:07 PM on August 5, 2007


it would become a shock piece playing on the "OMG HAXORZ!" fears of the general population

The "general population" doesn't talk like a chat room log.
posted by dhammond at 6:42 PM on August 5, 2007


I'm a bit late to the party, but I've gone over the links, and I have to ask what misogyny was committed? I'm against the "fuck you all" attitude of hackers outright, but I didn't hear any specific examples of misogyny in the videos. I'm just asking for a few sources before we hang these guys' underwear from the flag pole.
posted by potch at 9:56 PM on August 5, 2007


I didn't hear any specific examples of misogyny in the videos.

I think those comments mostly were referring to supposed misogynistic posts in this thread, not on the video.
posted by frobozz at 11:18 PM on August 5, 2007


I hate Dateline, and feel their internet fearmongering is a direct attack on the work that me and my friends do, but that video creeped me the fuck out. Yes, she shouldn't have been there, but there was an inarguable air of menace along with the piss-poor attempts at jokes. I wouldn't be surprised if she were traumatized by the episode for quite some time. Not saying she's not also culpable, but if you can't see the awful misogynistic stalker vibe in that video, you might want to sit through it again.
posted by anildash at 1:17 AM on August 6, 2007


When does the comical start in that comical parking lot chase? It looked to me more like the world's dullest man not knowing what to do with making his point, followed by a woman walking to her car at normal pace while a bunch of people jeered.
posted by biffa at 2:33 AM on August 6, 2007


" every year from DC-5 through DC-12. That was back when it was held exclusively at the Alexis Park Hotel."

DefCon 5 was at the Monte Carlo, not the AP. Also, it wasn't a very good con.

"Being "attractive" does not undermine professionalism... Assuming she was only there as a "pretty blonde" is not a slam against the misogyny shown here; it's not so subtle support of it."

She was only there as a "pretty blonde." If she were attending in a professional capacity she wouldn't have been so blindingly incompetent at her predatory game.
posted by majick at 7:46 AM on August 6, 2007


there was an inarguable air of menace

You've got to be kidding. I'd argue that "inarguable" point. Where exactly is the menace in that video? Unless you're also arguing there's an "inarguable air of menace" to any reporter following a target around with a camera, in which case you've got a point, albeit a trivial one for this thread.
posted by mediareport at 9:55 AM on August 6, 2007


"but the mob mentality intent upon humiliating and hurting her and language that was tossed at this woman is absolutely disgusting."

but.. it was a flash mob. that's so Web 2.0!
posted by drstein at 10:41 AM on August 6, 2007


DefCon 5 was at the Monte Carlo, not the AP. Also, it wasn't a very good con.

DC4 was at the Monte Carlo, DC5 was at the Aladdin. And it was a very good con from my perspective.
posted by scalefree at 10:44 AM on August 6, 2007


Hey, you're right. I stand corrected!
posted by majick at 11:24 AM on August 6, 2007


After reading the ZDNet link I am even less sympathetic to Ms Madigan:
Madigan declined press credentials on four separate occasions (twice on phone and twice at DEFCON). Madigan proceeded to register as a regular DEFCON attendee and even told a DEFCON staffer that she was going to the bathroom to get her hidden camera ready. When a DEFCON goon (staffer) explained to Madigan that secret video taping wasn’t allowed, Madigan not knowing she was speaking to a goon replied that she didn’t think it wasn’t a problem. The staffer then followed Madigan around and watched her as she panned her hidden camera around the entire “Capture the flag” room to get unauthorized video of the members.

Madigan was apparently trying to do a shock piece for NBC Dateline to show middle America how criminal underground hackers had descended on DEFCON Las Vegas to learn tricks of the trade and how Federal Agents were tracking them down. When a DEFCON staffer spoke to Madigan posing as regular attendee, Madigan commented that people in Kansas (reference to middle America) would be very interested in what was “really” going on in DEFCON.
posted by scalefree at 12:26 PM on August 6, 2007


« Older I watch virtually no television but this NPR revie...  |  Achtung! Nazis! Nazi amphetam... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments