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Seth Abramson @SethAbramson
, 11 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
NOTE: An op-ed I tweeted out earlier, in which a Root journalist offered the *opinion*—based on *circumstantial evidence*—that Russia changed votes (which view I called compelling for reasons both in and not in the article) has been temporarily taken down for updating. @KimZetter
2/ Critics of the article wrongly said it dealt in direct evidence, despite a lengthy preamble saying it was only discussing circumstantial evidence—the most common type of evidence used in securing convictions in criminal courts. They also wrongly called it hard news reporting.
3/ The messages I received from cybersecurity experts after I linked to the article were *livid*—in part because they don't understand evidentiary modes or the 30+ journalistic writing modes in use in America (both of which are topics I teach courses on at a research university).
4/ A chapter in my in-progress book is on America's "expertise crisis"—which at base is a crisis in our understanding of what expertise is and when/where it's useful. I'm as sure cybersecurity experts don't understand this as I am they know far more than me about cybersecurity.
5/ 18 months of relative silence from most—not all—cybersecurity experts has left the field open for scoundrels to push the opposite view: that there must not have been any election effect to Russian hacking because *we'd have heard from cybersecurity experts if there had been*.
6/ If our cybersecurity experts had had cross-disciplinary command of evidentiary modes—an ability to speak of circumstantial evidence or investigatory trajectories rather than just final conclusions—they wouldn't have had to stay silent and thereby negligently promote confusion.
7/ It was this *failure* of communication between the cybersecurity community and the American people that (a) permanently biased the reading public against any future findings that votes were changed and (b) forced an op-ed writer for The Root to try to fill the gap they'd left.
8/ But in fact it was worse than this: because non-cybersecurity experts in journalism were awaiting final findings from cybersecurity experts half in and half out of journalism, they allowed state and federal officials to *mislead* Americans on this story for the past 18 months.
9/ As a former criminal investigator, I treat the lies told by state officials about whether their sites were breached, and the feds soft-shoeing of the issue, and news stories on what happened slowly revealing it was worse (and worse) than we thought, as circumstantial evidence.
10/ I appreciate that no one wants a panic. I also know the field of truth was conceded from the outset for reasons having nothing to do with NatSec (which was harmed by it) and everything to do with the politics of professionalism. That's unacceptable—so I tweeted the link. /end
PS/ My advice to cybersecurity experts: don't email an attorney and journalism professor to lecture him on a topic touching on the law and journalism just because you "own" a quadrant of a story which—because you had only *one* quadrant—you've been mishandling from the beginning.
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