Undercover NBC Dateline reporter bolts from DEFCON 2007

Undercover NBC Dateline reporter bolts from DEFCON 2007

Summary: Undercover reporter Michelle Madigan (Associate Producer of NBC Dateline) got a little more than she bargained for when she tried to sneak in to DEFCON 2007 with hidden cameras to get someone to confess to a felony.

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TOPICS: Hardware
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Undercover reporter Michelle Madigan (Associate Producer of NBC Dateline) got a little more than she bargained for when she tried to sneak in to DEFCON 2007 with hidden cameras to get someone to confess to a felony.  When DEFCON staff announced the "spot the undercover reporter" game and told the audience that an undercover reporter was taking video to catch someone confessing to a hacking crime, Madigan bolted from the conference premises followed by a pack of ~150 DEFCON attendees and reporters trying to photograph and video tape her.  DEFCON officials never got the chance to bring Madigan on stage to offer her a press badge so that she could cover the rest of the event above board.

DEFCON organizers caught wind of this from undisclosed sources and casually contacted Madigan to see if she wanted official press credentials and a press badge to cover DEFCON.  Reporters in the pressroom were then fully briefed on the situation before the "spot the undercover reporter game" so that they could cover the event.

According to Senior DEFCON official "Priest" who works for the Government in his day job, Madigan declined press credentials on four separate occasions  (twice on phone and twice at DEFCON).  Madigan proceeded to register as a regular DEFCON attendee and even told a DEFCON staffer that she was going to the bathroom to get her hidden camera ready.  When a DEFCON goon (staffer) explained to Madigan that secret video taping wasn't allowed, Madigan not knowing she was speaking to a goon replied that she didn't think it wasn't a problem.  The staffer then followed Madigan around and watched her as she panned her hidden camera around the entire "Capture the flag" room to get unauthorized video of the members.

Madigan was apparently trying to do a shock piece for NBC Dateline to show middle America how criminal underground hackers had descended on DEFCON Las Vegas to learn tricks of the trade and how Federal Agents were tracking them down.  When a DEFCON staffer spoke to Madigan posing as regular attendee, Madigan commented that people in Kansas (reference to middle America) would be very interested in what was "really" going on in DEFCON.  DEFCON official "Priest" also had reason to believe that that Madigan was planning to out uncover federal agents attending DEFCON and expressed some serious concern about the safety and privacy of those agents.  Because of this, staffers used this to lure Madigan to the room where they planned to out her instead in front of DEFCON attendees in the "spot the undercover reporter" game but Madigan bolted from the scene before her photo was put up on the projector.

The sad part of this story is that Madigan was given every opportunity to get a press pass and get access to any of the speakers and attendees above board.  Even after the secret video taping she was offered a chance cover the rest of the conference with an official press badge.  This is my second year covering DEFCON and I've never had any problems getting photos or video from willing attendees and speakers but that's not what Madigan was going after.  She wanted to paint a picture that would shock "people in Kansas" about DEFCON and that's not what DEFCON is about.  The Feds, Press, and hacker community have built up a level of mutual trust at DEFCON so that we have a place to talk openly and honestly.  After taking an unofficial poll in the press room here, not one person appreciated Madigan's antics.

Topic: Hardware

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123 comments
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  • Typical reporter

    The fact that she refused an official press badge proves that she was more interested in stirring up controversy than in providing factual coverage of the events.

    She should apply to Fox News as they are always looking for people with these skills.
    otaddy
    • With all due respect, Dateline has a habbit of doing this

      With all due respect, Dateline has a habbit of doing this.
      georgeou
      • With all due respects

        It's good (and rather funny) to see them get caught with
        their knickers down. Hopefully the network will apologize
        to the attendees (sure they will) or at least show the outing
        on one of the news shows.
        Ken_z
      • more due respect

        You're right, Dateline is HORRIBLE with this type of mis-information. Though, Fox news with its "Fox Investigates" pieces is right up there as well.
        @...
      • RE: With all due respect...

        But, isn't that the question? Exactly how much respect are they due?

        IIRC, this is the same show that to prove a certain brand of trucks unsafe repeatedly hit it at such an angle and in such a way as to maximize the possibility of a gas tank rupture and possible fire. Then, when their normal collisions failed to create the required sensational explosion, they planted explosive devices on the trucks to make their gasoline tanks explode to "Prove" they were unsafe at low speed collisions.

        Is that the respect you were referring to?
        GreyGeek
    • Very good point 'typical report' (eom)

      .
      BillyG_n_SC
    • Don't let your personal bias get in the way ....

      ... of what occurred! This story was about a Dateline reporter. When Fox is caught doing this then feel free to drag them into it. In the mean time attacking Fox for something that NBC did is completely out of line.
      ShadeTree
      • RE: Don't let your personal bias get in the way ....

        For Fox is allowed to do this, and if not allowed, when it does do it, it is the morally right thing to do. Long live Fox, your national voice of the Republican Party. They are so far right they can't be wrong. Some would disagree with the above, but they are the same people who would argue with a sign post.
        joe6pack_z
        • RE: Fox bias

          Is Fox News the national voice of the Republican Party?

          Is that why you have reporters who worked for CNN moving to Fox and some who worked for Fox now working for CNN?

          That Move-on.org kool-aid must be pretty tasty. You seem to have drunk a lot of it.
          GreyGeek
      • No need to attack Fox

        Just their mere existence speaks volumns of their ignorance and complete disregard for factual reporting.

        Fortunately, they only preach to the choir of poor saps that are lacking the mental capacity to realize they're being dupped every day. Anyone who actually thinks they fairly report "news" can only watch Fox because the little box they live in would be destroyed if they actually found out what was happening in the world.

        They should change their slogan to - "Fox News: The news we want you to hear."
        FatherJ
        • You Really do Hate Us

          ANOTHER story about ANOTHER liberal news outlet attempting to manufacture, rather than report news. Obviously, that will bring out the moveon.org type, yeahbutt, trolls to bash conservatives the single non hard left liberal tv news channel.

          Digging a bit deeper into this, since conservatives are such a choir of mentally incapable poor saps, that half of the country should do what? Sitdown, shutup, and not stand for what they believe in thier hearts to be true? Just let you, NBC/CNN/NPR/ABC/CBS/MNSBC/etc... tell them what to think? To march, lock step with the drones of self proclaimed "free thinkers". To consume the tripe spoon fed by the liberal news, believing it is ambrosia handed down from the gods. Having been programmed to believe everyone else, not marching in step, is stupid/ignorant and that liberal Big Goverenment tax and spend social programs are all that stand between those poor saps and the abyss?

          What we're we talking about? Oh yeah... "Undercover NBC Dateline reporter bolts from DEFCON 2007". Got a bit off topic didn't we? It must be the President's fault.
          invmgr@...
          • Great

            You tell it brother
            itsgregman
      • True,Fox not the only one guilty

        I dont like any of the news programs which is why I get my news from the internet.

        The only good thing about Fox is that only those who are totally devoted conservatives watch it--or those who like to watch leggy news gals talk.
        otaddy
        • Fact correction:

          Just thought that I would point out that Fox is not conservative; at the most they are moderate. It is simply that the rest of the mainstream media (NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, NY Times, etc., etc.) are so LIBERAL that in comparison, Fox would SEEM to be the voice of conservatism.
          justanitguy
          • Yeah, right. and neither is Rush Limbaugh.

            Oh please wake up. Fox not conservative? Does a segment go by without some snide remark & laughing at what they consider liberals?

            "At most they are moderate"??? So you're saying there's a possibility you consider Fox to be Liberal? What color is the sky on your planet?

            Your contention is as absurd as someone claiming NBC isn't liberal. Fox just shows their bias more blatantly , while outlets like NPR like to make it more subtle.

            If you can't spot bias better than that, give up and go back to listening to your middle-of-the-road Rush Limbaugh.
            gordon@...
          • So true.

            Amen, brother.
            euclid911@...
          • RE: Fact correction:

            Interesting how you label your opinion as "fact".

            If it smells like a Rose, looks like a Rose, then it must be a ..fruit cake !!!

            Right?

            I'll bet your favorite radio talk show personalities are Rush Limbaugh and Dr. Laura, right?
            Grexican
      • If it was CNN...

        ...they might have a point. Remember Peter Arnett's "Operation Tailwind" report? He and his producers KNEW it was all made-up, but the arrogance of the old-style media knows no bounds. They honestly (or dishonestly) thought they'd get away with it.

        If they can bring up anything even approaching this for Fox News, I'd like to hear it. (N.B. I don't even watch Fox or any broadcast news. Why bother, when the Internet and the attendant blogosphere gives you the full story and allows you to decide for yourself instead of getting only what the Leftist media establishment wants you to hear).
        bpolhemus@...
        • Or the CBS Rather reports

          nt
          georgeou
    • Except that, if she had skills then we wouldn't be

      reading about it here. We'd be watching her "shocking expose" on the tv.

      But yes, Fox or CNN or maybe the Weekly World News could use her.
      fuzzy2k