Daily Kos Founder Refused to Protect Identity of Underage Girls

From Tommy Christopher in Mediaite:

Then, on Thursday, a blogger at DailyKos published a diary rife with wild speculation, and unfounded insinuations, including an unredacted version of Veronica’s Direct Messages to @Goatsred, which also contains Betty’s name. This is the problem with new media, an ignorance, or contempt, or simple disregard, for established journalistic practices. Redacting the names would have no effect on the item’s news value, and the message states they are high school girls, but the blogger either didn’t notice, or didn’t care.

When the girls’ parents became aware of this, they were very distressed, fearing for their children’s safety and privacy. I assured them that I would contact the blog’s proprietor, Markos Moulitsas (a father himself), and he would surely take it down, or redact their names.

The reality, though, was quite another story. When I contacted Moulitsas, he refused to call me, insisting upon email, which greatly hampered the amount of detail I could give him. The result was that he refused to redact their names, or make any changes, but the actual emails demonstrate a reprehensible lack of compassion or responsibility: (Warning: There is some very strong language)

VERY Urgent you call me! One of your bloggers is compromising identities of two minors

date Thu, Jun 2, 2011 at 9:22 PM

subject VERY Urgent you call me! One of your bloggers is compromising identities of two minors

They are sources of mine, and scared shitless, please call me. xxx-xxx-xxxx


from Markos Moulitsas

to Tommy Christopher

date Thu, Jun 2, 2011 at 9:26 PM

subject Re: VERY Urgent you call me! One of your bloggers is compromising identities of two minors

Email me the info.

from Tommy Christopher tommy@mediaite.com

to dkos

date Thu, Jun 2, 2011 at 9:29 PM

subject Re: VERY Urgent you call me! One of your bloggers is compromising identities of two minors

These are confidential sources. If you can’t call me, at least have this blog taken down, or redact the DM screenshot, including the names (redacted) and the name (redacted), and the girl’s picture. And any reference to those names in the comments or story

from Tommy Christopher tommy@mediaite.com

to dkos

date Thu, Jun 2, 2011 at 9:58 PM

subject Re: VERY Urgent you call me! One of your bloggers is compromising identities of two minors

Please let me know what’s going on. I will be posting these girls’ story pretty soon, with proper protection. They just don’t want all these bread crumbs out there. They are 16 years old.

from Markos Moulitsas

to Tommy Christopher

date Thu, Jun 2, 2011 at 10:34 PM

subject Re: VERY Urgent you call me! One of your bloggers is compromising identities of two minors

That’s a community member’s post. Not my staff. I don’t exert editorial control over what the community writes absent legal imperatives or deeply offensive material. Right now, I’m seeing neither.

I’m not sure I get why you want me to pull that. Those DMs appear relevant to the story. As I understand it, those two individuals injected themselves into a political smear effort, why should they be protected now?

Open to a counter argument that has nothing to do with protecting your source.

from Tommy Christopher tommy@mediaite.com

to Markos Moulitsas

date Thu, Jun 2, 2011 at 10:37 PM

subject Re: VERY Urgent you call me! One of your bloggers is compromising identities of two minors

They are both minor children and (redacted) was not involved. Will discuss further if you need, not on email. There could be legal implications, I’m not a lawyer. I’m going to post their story fairly soon, but will discuss off the record by phone if you need.

from Tommy Christopher tommy@mediaite.com

to Markos Moulitsas

date Thu, Jun 2, 2011 at 11:20 PM

subject Re: VERY Urgent you call me! One of your bloggers is compromising identities of two minors

I’m prepping my story now. Are you going to leave it as is? These girls are afraid. Here’s a redacted version, if you want to drop it in. That’s all I ask. You’re a father, think about it for a sec.

from Markos Moulitsas

to Tommy Christopher

date Thu, Jun 2, 2011 at 11:35 PM

subject Re: VERY Urgent you call me! One of your bloggers is compromising identities of two minors

If they’re so afraid, why are they talking to you?

from Markos Moulitsas

to Tommy Christopher

date Thu, Jun 2, 2011 at 11:35 PM

subject Re: VERY Urgent you call me! One of your bloggers is compromising identities of two minors

And to be clear, no, I’m not getting involved. I see no reason to protect your scoop.

from Tommy Christopher tommy@mediaite.com

to Markos Moulitsas

date Thu, Jun 2, 2011 at 11:35 PM

subject Re: VERY Urgent you call me! One of your bloggers is compromising identities of two minors

Because I have promised to protect their identities.

from Tommy Christopher tommy@mediaite.com

to Markos Moulitsas

date Thu, Jun 2, 2011 at 11:37 PM

subject Re: VERY Urgent you call me! One of your bloggers is compromising identities of two minors

It’s not my scoop I’m protecting, it’s these young girls. Jesus, all I’m asking is that you redact the names of these children. Please.

from Markos Moulitsas

to Tommy Christopher

date Thu, Jun 2, 2011 at 11:37 PM

subject Re: VERY Urgent you call me! One of your bloggers is compromising identities of two minors

So did @goatsred.

Again, not my responsibility to protect your sources.

from Tommy Christopher tommy@mediaite.com

to Markos Moulitsas

date Thu, Jun 2, 2011 at 11:40 PM

subject Re: VERY Urgent you call me! One of your bloggers is compromising identities of two minors

Dude, it is your responsibility to protect the identities of minors, sources or not. I can’t believe you. This gesture will cost you nothing, and it will save these girls being subjected to fuck knows what. As a father, I beg you, please redact these girls’ names.

from Tommy Christopher tommy@mediaite.com

to Markos Moulitsas

date Fri, Jun 3, 2011 at 12:17 AM

subject Re: VERY Urgent you call me! One of your bloggers is compromising identities of two minors

This is the last I’ll say on the subject, and you can take it for what it’s worth, like I said, I’m not a legal expert, but this girl’s parents are livid and talking about legal action. Obviously, you didn’t know it was posted, but you know now.

from Markos Moulitsas

to Tommy Christopher

date Fri, Jun 3, 2011 at 12:56 AM

subject Re: VERY Urgent you call me! One of your bloggers is compromising identities of two minors

Wish them luck going after @goatsred.

from Tommy Christopher tommy@mediaite.com

to Markos Moulitsas

date Fri, Jun 3, 2011 at 1:08 AM

subject Re: VERY Urgent you call me! One of your bloggers is compromising identities of two minors

Well, he has removed it from his YFrog. Probably not out of decency, but now, you’re the only obstacle to their safety. I really can’t believe you’re doing this. I hope you think better of it.

It disgusts me to see any person behave this way, particularly a fellow liberal. It is my hope that he rethinks this, or that enough of my fellow liberals (he’s not likely to be persuaded by conservatives) encourage him (perhaps via Twitter) to do the right thing, and protect these girls. Their parents are sick with worry over this, and the frustrating part is that I promised them, every step of the way, that I would protect them, that I would kill the story rather than risk harm to these girls.

Read the whole, very interesting article here.

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