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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Apparently Fox News was the victim of some hackers intent on sullying its until-now clean journalistic reputation over the holiday weekend:

A series of alarming Twitter posts about President Obama appeared on Fox News’s Twitter account for political news early Monday morning, and the Web site for the cable television network said it was a victim of hacking.

The Twitter account, @foxnewspolitics, one of many operated by Fox News, claimed that the president had been fatally shot while campaigning in Iowa, but gave no source for the news. On Monday morning, FoxNews.com first posted a brief statement saying that the reports were incorrect, and that it regretted “any distress the false Tweets may have created.”

The six messages were removed around noon on Monday, about 10 hours after being posted, but not before attracting a flurry of attention.

Because of the seriousness of the content, containing graphic, though fictional, descriptions of the president’s death, senior Secret Service officials gathered Monday morning to discuss them, said a law enforcement official who requested anonymity because of the investigation into the matter.

A spokesman for the Secret Service, George Ogilvie, said, “We are investigating the matter and will be conducting appropriate follow-up.” The White House declined to comment.

In a statement Monday afternoon, Twitter indicated that its own servers were not broken into; instead, the e-mail account associated with the specific Twitter feed had been compromised, and from there the hacker or hackers had been able to gain access.

Twitter referred other questions about the incident to Fox News; a spokeswoman there did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The FoxNews.com Twitter account for political news, which has about 36,000 followers, had been dormant since Friday, but at about 2 a.m. Monday, a message was posted there that eerily presaged the posts that would follow about the president: “just regained full access to our Twitter and email. Happy 4th.” The next post said that the president “has just passed. The President is dead. A sad 4th of July indeed.”

With news that the VP just got on Twitter–Biden 2016 anyone?–we can be sure the Secret Service is watching this news medium with increasing skepticism, even as it shows its revolutionary muscle in countries from Iran to Belarus.

And Rubert Murdoch, owner of Fox News and a British tabloid that recently hacked a dead woman’s cell phone, can be confident his employees will return to doing their reportage on the serious issues confronting the nation. [The New York Times]

 

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