Over the past week, we've seen numerous stories from mainstream press trying to conflate skepticism of CrowdStrike with many conspiracy theories and we've seen a lot of people who describe themselves as "journalists" claiming suspicions against CrowdStrike all started with a post on 4Chan.
Unfortunately, these mainstream journalists are wildly speculating and pushing a dubious theory that is directly contradicted by evidence.
Unfortunately, for NBC, not only did they ignore that evidence, they've also disgraced themselves by promoting smears against the one person actually fact-checking them.
They have refused to verify or validate their information, have presented a false narrative to their audiences and have attacked those who do verify and validate information.
The "It Came From 4Chan" Origin Theory
On September 27, 2019, NBC journalist Ben Collins tweeted out the following origin theory attributing the source of "the Crowdstrike conspiracy theory" to a post on 4chan:
To be fair to Collins, it is what Buzzfeed's Ryan Broderick had reported a day earlier.
However, having done a lot of research into RussiaGate during the past three years, I knew very well that suspicions of CrowdStrike's role at the DNC really came a lot sooner.
Suspicion of CrowdStrike Appeared Much Sooner
I won't say that this is the origin (because there may have been an even earlier example) but it's certainly a much earlier (and more interesting) example than the 4chan post that mainstream media seem to have fixated on.
On June 16, 2016, only one day after Guccifer 2.0 had emerged, a blog post was posted to inevitahillary.blogspot.com titled: "Perhaps CrowdStrike : Guccifer 2.0 :: FBI : Sabu" (or, to put it more coherently: Perhaps CrowdStrike is to Guccifer 2.0 what the FBI was to Sabu).
The article goes into detail about CrowdStrike, It's president Shawn Henry (and his past at the FBI) and suggests that CrowdStrike could be behind the Guccifer 2.0 persona.
(Mr. Henry, for those who don't know, has also been a network news analyst for NBC in the past.)
I won't go further into the theory as this article isn't about pushing alternate theories, the point here is simply that this was an earlier example of a theory suspecting CrowdStrike of fakery in relation to the alleged hacking of the DNC by Russians.
This came far sooner (by around nine months) than the 4chan post that mainstream journalists have claimed was the origin.
I can understand why they've ignored this and chosen to focus on the 4chan post.
Back To The Present: Debunked Smear Merchants Push Their Luck
Unfortunately for Collins, another journalist (Karl Bode, who I debunked in the past and who has held a grudge ever since) decided to respond to Collins thread by misrepresenting my position, accusing me of something I've never done and tweeting a link to a hit-piece that was authored by Duncan Campbell (a journalist who I had criticized for reliance on propaganda back in 2017, who then came up with a crazy conspiracy theory to smear myself and others, and who has demonstrably made false claims about evidence as part of his efforts against me).
In response to Karl Bode, I shared an article covering how Campbell's conspiracy theories and smears have fallen apart:
and pointed out that I had already corrected him on his lies in the past and asked him to explain why he's chosen to continue pushing distortions and lies:
I then called out the fact that the origin theory Ben Collins was tweeting about was already contradicted by the prior existence of an alternate theory relating to CrowdStrike that emerged much earlier (June 16, 2016) and I provided evidence to support this:
Note that "@oneunderscore__" (aka Ben Collins) is tagged in on this.
Neither Bode nor Collins responded and I thought that would be the end of things. Unfortunately, though, Collins decided to take the low road and scrape the bottom of the propaganda barrel where he found some already debunked smears against me and figured he'd enlist Campbell's help for his conspiracy theory origin fantasy story.
He chose to promote Campbell's smears and conspiracy theories against me, making no mention of the fact that the nonsense from Campbell had already been extensively rebutted and debunked, nor did Collins mention the fact that additional evidence emerged in the past year that has further corroborated the findings of Campbell's targets.
Ben Collins Ignores Evidence, Runs With Phony Origin Story & Promotes Debunked Smears
On October 3, 2019, five days after I shared evidence showing prior origin, an article by Ben Collins was published by NBC titled: "Trump seized on a conspiracy theory called the 'insurance policy.' Now, it's at the center of an impeachment investigation."
The article claimed a 4Chan post was the origin of conspiracy theories related to CrowdStrike (completely ignoring the earlier example I'd provided):
But we know this isn't really the first known evidence of a theory questioning CrowdStrike's involvement with the DNC and alleged hacking incidents.
We know, in reality, this first emerged nine months earlier.
This is, quite simply, fake news from NBC's Ben Collins.
The article continues and eventually gets around to promoting Campbell's debunked conspiracy theories, presenting his nonsense as though it were credible:
Campbell never demonstrated how or why documents were supposedly "fake" and neither Campbell nor Collins provide evidence to support this assertion. It's also unclear what metadata was "proof" of files being "illegitimate" or what the evidence for this is supposed to be.
Campbell did try to cherry-pick his way to a conclusion that the NGP-VAN files (released by Guccifer 2.0 in September 2016) had their timestamps tampered with (maybe this is what the "illegitimate" allegation is in reference to) but the theory was dismantled by Forensicator earlier this year.
It seems Collins has invented his "fake documents" allegation out of whole cloth just to suit the narrative he's promoting.
The claim "metadata on the files offering proof" is also false.
What Campbell found was a statistical anomaly through a process that first involved throwing out two thirds of timestamp data (and laying out all files on a minutes-and-seconds-only timeline).
Campbell found evidence that seemed to suggest his theory of Guccifer 2.0 tampering with timestamps was probable or likely, at best.
However, even this isn't something we would argue is "proof" in our own work. Not just because it's statistical and something we would refer to in terms of probability but because Forensicator has found examples of there being clashes in the file/folder timeline (and that's without even factoring in contemporaneous files discovered in the CF.7z archive that Guccifer 2.0 later released), which discredits Campbell's theory.
Conclusion: NBC Published Fake News After It Had Already Been Debunked
Ben Collins promoted a bogus claim about origins of conspiracy theories relating to CrowdStrike that was contradicted by evidence I had presented on September 27th, at least 5 days before Collins' article was published.
Instead of responding to the evidence I presented, Collins promoted already-debunked smears against me.
Collins did not attempt to contact myself or Bill Binney before publishing his fictional bilge.
Pushing a narrative that you don't care to verify or validate is irresponsible journalism.
Opponents can screech "disinformation" and "fake" all they like but when they lack evidence to support their claims and they choose to ignore evidence that debunks their silly theories, they are nothing more than smear merchants.
Duncan Campbell, Ben Collins (and Karl Bode) have traded their objectivity in favor of baseless attacks on researchers who offer opposing views (based on available facts). They resist amending their stories based on evidence that they hadn't previously considered and have demonstrated extremely unprofessional and unethical behavior.
[Ben Collins was contacted and asked why he chose to ignore the evidence of earlier origin; why he chose to promote debunked smears; and why he didn't qualify the disinformation from Campbell by covering the fact Campbell's nonsense has been rebutted and debunked. At the time of publication of this article, Collins had provided no response.]
[On October 8, 2019, NBC Digital's Executive Editor (Catherine Kim), Managing Editor (David Firestone), Assistant Managing Editor For News (Tim Perone), Senior Tech Editor (Jason Abbruzzese), Senior Editor News Projects (Anna Brand), News Media Relations Department & others were contacted by email and asked to provide evidence to support their publication's claims and asked why they made no effort to validate the claims they promoted with primary sources. As of October 12, 2019, none of these recipients have responded.]
[Article was updated on December 31, 2019 to highlight another false claim in the NBC article in relation to "metadata on the files offers proof" and, to date, neither Collins nor the NBC News editors contacted have responded to the previous challenge for evidence to support their claims.]
[Duncan Campbell was emailed on January 1, 2020 and has been asked to provide evidence to support the "fake documents", "metadata offers proof" and "pro-Russia" assertions published by NBC News. He has also been asked to respond to Forensicator's "Campbell Coincidence" rebuttal and to respond to a challenge against his past false claims regarding evidence.]
[Phone calls were made to Duncan Campbell on March 9th, 10th and 11th (at different times of day), he refused to answer and messages were left asking him to explain his allegations and produce the "proof" that Ben Collins had written about. Campbell has made no effort to call back and discuss this as of the latest update (March 27, 2020).]
[On March 18, 2020, Ben Collins was publicly asked to substantiate his claim about fake documents. It seems unlikely he'll respond. It's been almost 6 months and he still cannot substantiate his claims and prove them to be true.]
[As of March 27, 2020, NBC News editors, Ben Collins and Duncan Campbell have all refused to respond to reasonable requests for substantiation of their claims via multiple channels and failed to produce the "proof" they said exists.]
If any publication would like to know more about Campbell, the real reason he has tried to destroy my reputation and would like to see and hear evidence to demonstrate that his efforts have been malicious and fraudulent from the outset, please get in contact with me.