Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Covert hack smacked in DC

Maybe he's not as sly as Nellie Bly (left).
An expose of the lowdown world of Washington DC lobbyists has been greeted with muttering about the writer Ken Silverstein's own journalistic ethics while playing gotcha with the suits. When Howard Kurtz tsk-tsked about webs of deceit in his Washington Post media column, the correspondent for Harper's Magazine explained his side in his former rag, the LA Times. Ken takes a swipe at the cowardice of beltway reporters, many of whom consider themselves part of the establishment these days, and hearkens back to the days of resourceful Nellie Bly, an 1880s ace reporter who once pretended to be insane to get inside and investigate asylum conditions. Harpers stands behind their July-issue slapdown of highly-paid advocates for corrupt regimes.

Kurtz asserted that clandestine stings have not had much approval in high profile US media outlets since the 1970s (Hmmmm- five years ago People magazine reporters would switch wigs and don waiter's uniforms to penetrate celebrity bashes; now the stars accept money for cooperation and product placement.)
Things are rather different in Britain, where Mark Daly of the BBC won kudos for exposing five notorious pedophiles.
And in 2003 the tabloid Daily Mirror exposed security gaps at Buckingham Palace, despite a severe lockdown for a state visit by Bush, by planting a cub reporter among the royal servants.
Mazher Mahmood,pictured at right after Member of Parliament George Galloway unmasked him as the "Fake Sheikh", was considered a stealth weapon by the British red-top News of the World, coloquially known as News of the Screws. More than 100 criminals were exposed through his relentless undercover reporting, as well as revelations of the seamier side of star athletes and some politicians.
But the Fake sheikh came under a cloud after an alleged plot to kidnap "Posh Spice" (mega-footballer's wife, Victoria Beckham) backfired.

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