[ISN] Salon Hyde Expose' Spurs Death Threats, Hacks

From: mea culpa (jerichoat_private)
Date: Mon Sep 21 1998 - 16:03:36 PDT

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    Salon Hyde Exposť Spurs Death Threats, Hacks
    (09/17/98; 7:41 p.m. ET)
    By John Borland, TechWeb
    
    There's a security guard sitting at the front door of Salon Magazine, the
    Web publication that Wednesday broke a story detailing the adultery of one
    of President Clinton's most powerful Congressional critics. 
    
    The guard isn't standard Salon policy. After posting the story Wednesday
    midday, Salon has been besieged by electronic critics using everything
    from hack attacks to conventional death threats, editors said. 
    
    "We expected a strong reaction, but I'm surprised at the ferocity of the
    response," said David Talbot, the Salon editor who wrote the controversial
    story. 
    
    Salon wrote Wednesday that Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), who chairs the
    committee that will decide whether the full House should vote on Clinton's
    impeachment, had his own affair in the late 1960s. The publication
    documented the story carefully, putting together photos and interviews
    with several people close to Hyde and the woman's family. Editors received
    a statement from Hyde admitting the affair just minutes before the story
    went live. 
    
    Already Talbot has received death threats as a result of his article.
    Threats have been issued against other top editors. Their fax machine was
    shut down by a series of "black faxes" -- a tactic in which the sender
    repeatedly faxes an all-black piece of paper in a deliberate attempt to
    break the recipient's machine. The magazine stopped accepting incoming
    e-mail Thursday morning after an avalanche of hate mail and spam clogged
    their servers. 
    
    "We haven't even read most of the hate mail," said Andrew Leonard, the
    magazine's senior technology writer. "It's not even getting through." 
    
    The story has been angrily denounced by Republicans.  Rep. Tom Delay
    (R-Texas) blasted the story on the floor of the House Thursday morning,
    and later sent a letter to the FBI asking the agency to look into whether
    the White House was responsible for the information on Hyde. 
    
    But Talbot and the other editors bristle at the suggestion they are
    serving as administration puppets, an opinion already being widely heard
    on both conservative and mainstream talk shows. "It's not as if we're a
    P.R. office for the White House," Talbot said. One of Salon's senior
    editors recently called for Clinton's resignation, and the site regularly
    carries columns and articles sharply critical of Clinton and his policies,
    he added. 
    
    "The only reason people say that is because they're trying to kill the
    messenger," Talbot said.  Salon was similarly criticized for its
    investigative stories on Whitewater, he said. "We have stunned those
    people with our reporting." 
    
    Meanwhile, Salon's site was receiving close to 100,000 hits a minute by
    mid-Thursday, straining the company's servers. 
    
    Much of the reader response has been positive, editors said. But the
    electronic backlash also was building, as Salon's story was reported on
    CNN and broadcast news stations, and criticized on conservative outlets
    like Rush Limbaugh's radio show. 
    
    The concerted attacks against the site are unlikely to disappear quickly,
    Talbot said. "There is a hard-core conservative information infrastructure
    in this country, and they've been using it against Salon for some time
    now," he said. 
    
    
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