The Folha de S. Paulo practices the journalism of ante hoc ergo propter hoc.
A hacker invaded the personal e-mail of President Dilma Rousseff and copied e-mails she received during her victorious run for the presidency last year, according to a report by Matheus Leitão and Rubens Valente in today’s Folha (complete story available to subscribers of the Folha or of UOL, a company controlled by the Grupo Folha, which publishes the Folha.)
If you ask me, that lengthy bit of boilerplate about who owns who ruins the elegant punch of the lead. Nor does the nut graph inspire confidence.
The young man tried to sell the e-mails to politicians from the two opposition parties, the DEM-PFL and PSDB, but said he had no success. The Folha met with the hacker on Monday at a mall in Taguatinga, in the Federal District, 20 km from Brasília. He asked to remain anonymous, saying his name is “Douglas”, that he is unemployed, and that he is 21 years old..
Why is the Folha going to meet hackers with sensitive e-mails from Obama or Mitt Romney in a shopping mall in Ô do Borogodo? It does not by any chance reproduce any of those e-mails, does it? Read on past the pay wall to find out.
And now for something completely different.
Last week, a wave of hacker attacks targeted federal government Web sites. According to an overview compiled by Serpro, the federal data processing service on Tuesday, 20 government portals and 200 municipal sites, mainly those of city executives, were attacked. .The most critical, according to Serpro president Marcos Mazoni, was the attack on the site of the Presidency on Wednesday, June 22..
The editor has just cobbled together two vaguely similar events — an intrusion into a private e-mail account and a coordinated DoS on dozens of sites — into an ill-formed and no especially informative creature. The Folha goes on to say that Douglas said he has nothing to do with the group claiming responsibility for the DoS attacks — thereby admitting that the story of Douglas is completely irrelevant to the bulk of its story.
The paper redeems itself with a very fine infographic on a hostile M&A deal going down between the French and the Brazilians — the Empresa Brasileira de Distribuição, better known as the Pão de Açucar supermarket chain — for Carrefour’s Brazilian stores, above.
That is the sort of thing I would like to be able to produce with my crappy FOSS visualization and diagramming tools.
But back to the e-mails. Did the Folha run them, or attempt to run them? I translate some more.
“Douglas” asked the Folha for money in return for the messages intercepted. The Folha does not pay for the information it runs and refused the offer..
Yes, but the question is whether it ever gets paid to run the things it does, in specie or in kind?
The young man took the reporters to an Internet café where he showed them glimpses of the content of 30 e-mails stored on a hard drive. He would not allow the Folha to photograph or copy the messages.
So it seems as though the Folha, that bastion of integrity, tried, and failed, to leak illegally obtained private information, which it then goes on to paraphrase.
The sample exhibited included results of medical tests Dilma underwent in Porto Alegre (RS), instructions to the campaign regarding the runoff election, and a telephone book with contact information of relatives and aides to the president.
The package also contained a copy of the petition filed by the Folha to access Dilma’s file from the Superior Tribunal Militar, confidential at the time, as well as affidavits related to the scandal leading to the firing of aide Erenice Guerra, comments about accusations against Dilma by former federal tax authority chief Lina Vieira, and messages of personal support.
During the campaign, the Folha ran what purported to be the dossier of the former guerrilla but was in fact a crude hoax.
In sum, Sambodian journalism: meeting with leakers of confidential documents and intrepid campaigners against leakers of confidential documents — an incident of an “attempt to buy a dossier” on an opposition candidate in 2006 has recently regained the headlines.
And the worst of it is that one of the victims of e-mail hacking used UOL e-mail! UOL proclaims itself to be engaged in an intensive investigation to see how its Hotmail-like e-mail security, to which I would not entrust my recipe for leek-potato soup, could have been breached.
I can make neither heads nor tails of it all — especially without an account of exactly how the contact between Folha reporters and a venial hacker came about.