Corporate Media: Guccifer 2.0’s Final Messenger

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by Elizabeth Vos, Disobedient Media:

Disobedient Media has consistently covered the work of The Forensicator over the last nine months. Our previous report focused on the first in a series of findings made by the analyst, which reveal intricate issues stemming from the Guccifer 2.0 persona’s earliest publications, as well as the establishment media’s culpability in broadcasting the documents as part of a larger Russian hacking narrative.

This article will focus on the second work published by the Forensicator in his ongoing series, titled: Media Mishaps: Early Guccifer 2 Coverage. The Forensicator sums up the results of his latest work:

Wittingly, or not, the media served a critical role in getting the message out that there were “Russian fingerprints” inside the first document that Guccifer 2 disclosed. The media became Guccifer 2.0’s assistant by completing the long path from the original Trump opposition report to the final published PDF’s with Russian error messages in them (the so-called “Russian fingerprints”).

As described by the Forensicator, the emergence of wide public exposure to Guccifer 2.0’s first document and the Cyrillic error messages embedded within it depended solely on the work of establishment media. The outlets involved worked to make the technical details of the matter digestible for broad public consumption, and concluded that the errors in the document constituted evidence of a successful Russian-state-sponsored hack of the DNC.

While this may not represent a shocking revelation to those who have followed the lumbering progress of the Russian hacking narrative, the Forensicator’s new report indicates the degree to which there may have been active or unwitting cooperation between the Guccifer 2.0 persona and key press outlets who published the earliest reports on the alleged hacker’s publication of the ‘Trump opposition report.’

Leading the charge in such press coverage was The Washington Post, who reported on June 14, 2016, that the DNC alleged that it had been hacked by Russian operatives. The following day, Guccifer 2.0 made his official debut. He shared several documents with at least two media outlets: The Smoking Gun and Gawker. The outlets focused on Guccifer 2.0’s first document, a doctored version of a Trump opposition report that the DNC claimed had been stolen by Russian hackers. Both media outlets published Guccifer 2.0’s first publication as a PDF file on their websites.

As discussed by the Forensicator and Disobedient Media, the fact the email to which the opposition report was attached was later published in the Podesta Email collection by WikiLeaks does not prove that Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks shared a source on the document. However, it does suggest that either the DNC, the operators of the Guccifer 2.0 persona, or both parties had access to Podesta’s emails. This raises questions as to why the DNC would interpret the use of this particular file as evidence of Russian penetration of the DNC.

Returning to the timeline of events surrounding media coverage of the Guccifer 2.0 persona’s debut, one recalls that the following day, on June 16, 2016, Ars Technica published an article, titled “Guccifer” leak of DNC Trump research has a Russian’s fingerprints on it. The “Russian fingerprints” cited were the error messages, written in the Cyrillic alphabet, which were included near the end of Gawker’s PDF printout of the opposition report. The errors are presented, with notation via the Forensicator, below:

The Forensicator’s findings describe the procedure by which Ars Technica opened Guccifer 2’s document, seeing the error messages in English despite Gawker’s PDF showing them in Russian. In response to this inconsistency, Ars Technica argued that the Russian error messages must have appeared when the file was printed as a PDF. The outlet also made the surprising claim that Gawker got its PDF file directly from Guccifer 2.0. This statement, as highlighted by the Forensicator in the following image, raises serious questions regarding the relationship between major press outlets and supposed Russian hackers.

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