Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Glove Doesn't Fit!

With all due respect to the famous lawyer, wouldn't Johnny Cochrane say that from the grave? Today we saw a non by-lined story on the front page of the News-Press seeking ex-editor Jerry Robert's hard drive which (not even alledgedly in their report) contains 15,000 images of pornography. Here are the facts thus far:

1) The article actually admits that the District Attorney's Office was unable to prosecute this matter because it would be impossible to tell who put the images on the drive.

2) Roberts passed a lie detector test on the matter.

3) The suspect Macintosh G4 hard drive was a from a used computer used by other editors before Roberts.

4) The News-Press did not contact Roberts for a comment. Bias in the newsroom? At the very least, it is what The Indpendent Media Blog is calling "the biggest no-no in journalism".

5) As Roberts attorney pointed out, "You'd have to be working at it for three years to accumulate this much info". What he really means is who has that much hard drive space on a used G4?

Let's do the math. 15,000 images at let's say a megabyte each....that's 15 gigabytes of images on a used G4. A G4 that is maybe 6 years old shipped with a 27 gigabyte hard drive. A little more recent G4 powerbook would have shipped with a 60 gigabyte hard drive. Why would someone have more than half to a just under a third of their hard drive in images like this and think they could get away with it on a company computer? It would also severely affect performance....

Yes -- let's see what they come up with at Ampersand. But they better come up with a whole lot more. A few months ago I questioned whether they could get any lower. They have. There are no longer any journalists that are also management at De La Guerra Plaza. They've been trying to push this story for months even here at BlogaBarbara and I kept declining the comments. Are they doing this because no one else would? McCaw and Company should be ashamed of themselves....

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Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

Pictures from web sites, any web site, often are much smaller than a megabyte in size. Picture files at even 50 Kb look fine if they are not too large on the screen.

The picture files could be stuck in the download buffer and cache and never automatically deleted, or they were deleted but remained as a ghost in the machine, or they might have been deliberately downloaded.

But also remember, early in the mess last July or August, a Travistorial then made some pathetic jab alleging bias held by Jerry Roberts because a colleague from Los Angeles Times sent Roberts an email with a message as benign as "hang in there" or something like that.

The only way Travisty could have known about that was by searching the deleted email on Roberts computer shortly after he left. That revealed the end to any confidentiality between Newspress reporters and their sources if the message were sent via email. In other words, Newspress management has been looking at the email messages ever sent to Newspress reporters and editors from the public and other confidential sources. Many such reporters and editors left but their computers remained.

The Independent and other reports noted that computers of outsted Newspressers were taken to the Ampersand office on Victoria Street. Considering how the McCaw Foundation evaporated at about the same time with both of the staffers leaving for better opportunities (even if that meant just sleeping more), the Ampersand office there had plenty of room to collect the computers for future snooping.

4/22/2007 10:27 PM  
Anonymous Dr Jazz said...

It's hard to imagine that this pack of jackals could possibly go any lower than this, but I'm sure they'll think of something. In any case, I think the time has come to apply full court pressure to all NP advertisers, or indeed, anyone still associated with the paper in any way.

4/22/2007 10:44 PM  
Anonymous David said...

It was an 80 gig hard drive, I believe. Also, the SBPD analyzed only 250,000 images of the roughly 700,000 found on the computer. So there could be even more child pornography. That would be quite a collection to amass while on the job, working in an office with an open door policy.

4/22/2007 11:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The NP system is an open system. Anybody can access any computer on the ethernet, with file sharing turned on. The images could have been copied to the computer and then deleted, and the user would never know it. You don't even have to be a systems geek to do something like that. Obviously Wendy and her thugs don't have a clue about how things work around there. If they did, they wouldn't have even tried this tactic. I hope Jerry can use this to his advantage.

4/23/2007 4:57 AM  
Anonymous shaggy said...

Isn't it a sad day when The Wendy and the News-Press are so desperate to lash out that they steal strategy from Public Radio's "This American Life"?


Act One. Not Everybody Loves Raymond.

This American Life producer Sarah Koenig tells a story of the rise and fall of a politician's reputation. Raymond Buckley, a Democratic operative from New Hampshire, was instrumental in his party's success in last fall's midterm elections. He set his sights on becoming the chair of the state Democratic Party. But three months before the election for party chair, one of Buckley's political rivals accused him of one of the worst things that anyone can be accused of. It threatened to destroy not only his career, but his life. Unlike most politicians at the center of a scandal, Buckley was willing to talk about what he went through and how it changed him. (35 minutes)

4/23/2007 6:37 AM  
Anonymous Sonny said...

I seem to remember an anonymous post a few months back (here or at the Indie) claiming big news about a former NewsPresser and to be careful who you blindly support..this may be the "big news"!

4/23/2007 9:25 AM  
Anonymous Just an innocent (McFlaw-hating) bystander said...

Yes, Sonny, I was thinking the same thing. Moreover, didn't the N-P's lawyers also ask the court for an injunction that would have forced the owner of the blog to reveal the identity information or IP address of computer used to post the anonymous comment warning that such a scandal was about to go down? That's how I recall it.

4/23/2007 12:52 PM  
Anonymous gator said...

What a sad, small person Miss Wendy has become. Certainly now even the slighest amount of credibility she may have had left is surely gone.
To paraphrase the remark from Edward R Murrow, still the most respected American newsperson, to Sen. Joseph McCarthy, "After long last, have you no shame ma'am?"

4/23/2007 1:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's see, the NP made a copy, and sent the original to drivesavers... Oops, either someone failed to make a bit-copy (exact), or the recovery done was way down below what a bit copier could deal with (case 3 below).

From what I understand, the forensic tools provided to law enforcement for recovering information from a hard drive are standardized. Pretty much, canned programs so that police do not have to have a full technical expertise that is available to a company like drivesavers.

There are several levels of recovery:
1) look at deleted but not ovewirtten files.
2) look at file fragments that have been deleted, and partially overwritten.
3) remnant magnetism. There may be some left over signature even after a file has been overwritten. This is why secure computers require that a file be overwritten several times to insure that recovery is not possible.

For case 1) the files would have date and timestamps. Try any disk recovery tool, and you will see this.

For case 2, if the head of the file is overwritten, then you will not get a datetime stamp. You might be able to get the information out of some other portion of the file.

For case 3: you are talking that experts with good tools, and not something in the law enforcement forensic kit.

Also, if this computer was ever hacked, and hosted a third party content, then the images could be left over from that time, even if the computer was re-imaged.

Has an NP computer even been hacked?

4/23/2007 2:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

re. Gator at 1;43;
The quote was by Joseph Welch, an attorney, during the Senate McCarthy Hearings (not by Edward R. Murrow.) McCarthy had attacked an attorney on Welch's staff as a communist.

Welch's quote- (applicable here in Santa Barbara, to The Wendy):
"Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. Let us not assassinate this lad further, senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?"

4/23/2007 7:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sonny&Just an, I remember that. I think it was here? Maybe both.

4/23/2007 7:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Barry Cappello has been amazingly quiet. No response at all from News-Press "management"?

Imagine Barry's ringing shouts of outrage if he were representing Jerry Roberts.

4/23/2007 7:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It looks like PR Flack Barry is talking to the press.

Once again Wendy is news around the world.

4/23/2007 9:07 PM  

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