Timothy Burke Indicted on Ridiculous Conspiracy Charges tampabay.com

Justin Garcia, Dan Sullivan, Jay Cridlin, and Olivia George, Tampa Bay Times:

Tampa media consultant Tim Burke was charged Thursday with 14 federal crimes related to alleged computer hacks at Fox News.


According to the indictment, Burke and an unnamed person used “compromised credentials” to access and save protected commercial broadcast video streams, then disseminate specific clips after taking steps to mask where they came from and how they were obtained.

The indictment, thankfully embedded by the Times, makes it sound like Burke was some master hacker. But in an interview with Mathew Ingram of Columbia Journalism Review, Burke’s defence attorney Mark Rasch has a different explanation:

Here’s what we know: Fox News does the Kanye West–Tucker Carlson interview. They broadcast two hours of it. At the same time, Fox, like many other broadcasters, are livestreaming continuously to many different entities — to their affiliates, and so on — and these live feeds are in high definition and encrypted. But at the same time, they are also broadcasting low-definition, unencrypted feeds. They’re internet addressable, with no user ID and password required. All you need to know is the URL.

There are third-party sites that transmit these live feeds as a service. They have password-protected websites. And in this case, somebody on the internet provided Tim with the publicly posted user ID and password for a demo account on one of these services that are used by broadcasters. So Tim logs in to the site, and the site automatically downloads to his computer a list of all the livestreams on the site. The important thing to note here is that those livestreams did not require a user ID and password to access them, just a URL.

If this is as described, it is as idiotic to treat Burke as a criminal it was for Missouri Governor Mike Parson to go after a journalist who viewed the source of a webpage and reported it was leaking teachers’ Social Security Numbers. Charges were not filed in that case but the prosecutor left dangling a suspicion that it was still illegal. Now, there is Burke being charged with fourteen counts for similarly bogus reasons, and questioning whether what he does is actually journalism. It is nonsense.

Oh, and there is a Vice connection.