WFRV Blindly Follows Russian “Hacking” Narrative

WFRV CBS 5  |  1-2-2017

There is no doubt that the national media has been focusing much of its reporting on Russian hacking. The local media has been no different; however, in its January 2, 2017, 10 pm newscast, Channel 5 (WFRV) took the narrative a bit too far, crossing into the realm of bias.

Watch the report:

What we see and hear is relatively straightforward and admittedly alarming. Here’s the problem: it is misleading because it gives the impression that under the circumstances the Russians were able to hack Vermont’s power grid. In fact, several days prior, the Washington Post specifically corrected a story contending that Russian hackers had penetrated the grid. See the story here.

Now, certainly, WFRV was proper in reporting the potential concerns of hacking or malicious activity against our country; however, WFRV committed bias by omission in failing to report the important facts that Burlington Electric;

“detected the malware in a single Burlington Electric Department laptop not connected to our organization’s grid systems.”

Thus, the grid was not capable of being compromised with this laptop in its isolated state. In fact, according to a subsequent Burlington Electric statement on December 31st

Federal officials have indicated that the specific type of Internet traffic, related to recent malicious cyber activity that was reported by us yesterday, also has been observed elsewhere in the country and is not unique to Burlington Electric.

It’s unfortunate that an official or officials improperly shared inaccurate information with one media outlet, leading to multiple inaccurate reports around the country.

The factual omission in the report, coupled with the lead-in criticizing Donald Trump “continu[ing] to doubt” Russia’s hacking success(es) in the U.S., also constitutes bias by lack of context, because this story gives the impression a problem is potentially much worse than the facts reveal.

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