A Reuters reporter admits he offered to hide damaging information about Beto O’Rourke during the Democrat’s tight Senate race against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).
On Friday morning, Reuters journalist Joseph Menn broke the news that, as a teen, O’Rourke, who is now a freshly-minted 2020 presidential candidate, was part of a secret hacking group known as the Cult of the Dead Cow.
Since publication, Reuters has also been forced to admit their reporter, who was on leave at the time, knew all about O’Rourke’s hacker past during the 2018 Texas Senate race but offered not to reveal it until after the race:
After more than a year of reporting, Menn persuaded O’Rourke to talk on the record. In an interview in late 2017, O’Rourke acknowledged that he was a member of the group, on the understanding that the information would not be made public until after his Senate race against Ted Cruz in November 2018.
“While I was looking into the Cult of the Dead Cow, I found out that they had a member who was sitting in Congress. I didn’t know which one. But I knew that they had a member of Congress.
“And then I figured out which one it was. And the members of the group wouldn’t talk to me about who it was. They wouldn’t confirm that it was this person unless I promised that I wouldn’t write about it until after the November election. That’s because the member of Congress had decided to run for Senate. Beto O’Rourke is who it was.
“I met Beto O’Rourke. I said ‘I’m writing a book about Cult of the Dead Cow, I think it’s really interesting. I know you were in this group. This book is going to publish after November and your Senate race is over. And he said, ‘OK.’
The key sentence there is: “And then I figured out which one it was.”
So, even before he made a deal with O’Rourke to cover up his criminal past (stealing credit card numbers, etc.), Menn knew it was O’Rourke he was looking for. And all throughout the consequential Texas Senate campaign, Menn chose to hide that information from voters.
In other words, it was not as though Menn fingered O’Rourke after he agreed to hold off on publishing. It was not as though Menn had to make this agreement in order to be informed of O’Rourke’s participation in the group. Under those circumstances, Menn choosing to hide this information would still be a questionable journalistic decision when you consider the bigger moral world of a political race that might have decided which party held the U.S. Senate, but you can excuse Menn keeping his word to a source.
By Menn’s own telling, though, we know that is not what happened; we know he “figured out which one it was” before he “promised [not to] write about it until after the November election.”
Menn’s currently digging an even deeper hole for himself on Twitter.
“No one in [D.C.] would talk about O’Rourke until I promised not to publish before the 2018 election. That was OK: I wanted the full story for my book, which spans decades, rather than 1 scoop ahead of a state vote,” Menn tweeted.
Oh, okay, let’s hide this information because … book.
Can’t you just feel The Journalism?
Menn also admits the embargo was his idea. Even though he already knew of O’Rourke’s criminal past, it was this so-called “journalist” who suggested the story not be published until after the election.
“To be clear, I offered @BetoORourke an embargo because it was for a book I was on leave to write, not for my day job, and because no one else who knew would confirm the facts before the election.”
To be clear, I offered @BetoORourke an embargo because it was for a book I was on leave to write, not for my day job, and because no one else who knew would confirm the facts before the election.
— Joseph Menn (@josephmenn) March 16, 2019
Menn, however, also claims “I did not have the story before the November election because no one would talk.” But he knew it was O’Rourke before he made the deal, before he interviewed the O’Rourke, and all during the Texas Senate race, so I’m not sure what that even means.
Gosh this is fun. I did not have the story before the November election because no one would talk.
— Joseph Menn (@josephmenn) March 17, 2019
Maybe it means he didn’t have the story nailed down, but publishing stories that are not nailed down has become a résumé enhancer during the Trump era. Besides, there are other ways to nail down a story that do not involve colluding with a politician to hide the truth from the public.
It is also worth noting that in his Friday story, Menn and Reuters go out of their way to gloss over the criminality O’Rourke was involved in. It is treated as an adventure, a Kool Kids vs. The Man growth experience, even as they stole intellectual property and “other peoples’ phone-company credit card numbers and five-digit calling codes to place free calls.”
My guess is that those stolen credit cards did not all belong to America’s Bernie Madoffs; that a lot of innocent people got screwed, including their credit scores.
To be clear, my only complaint here is media bias. We all know The Fake Hispanic’s criminality would have led the story if he were a Republican. Personally, I don’t care what a 46-year-old man did as a teenager. Heaven knows I made enough mistakes of my own at that age. But, while he admits he is “not proud” of his hacker past, Mr. Perpetual Journey of Self-Exploration, naturally, still explained to Reuters: “There’s just this profound value in being able to be apart from the system and look at it critically and have fun while you’re doing it… I think of the Cult of the Dead Cow as a great example of that.”
To the surprise of no one, CNN’s Brian Stelter, who has spent a full week bashing Fox News for not reporting on the same Stormy Daniels story a bunch of other outlets also could not nail down before the 2016 presidential election, is defending Menn’s cover-up:
Reporters who are writing books sometimes hold back certain info til their book comes out. That's what the reporter says happened in this case. Book deal situations are definitely complicated. The Fox/Stormy situation didn't involve a book. What's your proposal — no books?
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) March 17, 2019
Yessireee, Democrats sure got it good…