Such is the case with CNN, which ran away Tuesday with a mostly recycled story accusing Russian hackers of infiltrating White House computer systems – a breach that was widely reported on when the story first broke in October.
The only difference between Tuesday’s report and last year’s coverage: This time around, CNN cited “US officials briefed on the investigation” as its source.
Mark Stroh apparently was not one of those officials. The spokesman for the National Security Council said CNN was “speculating” when it attributed the breach to Russian hackers.
"This report is not referring to a new incident – it is speculating on the attribution of the activity of concern on the unclassified EOP network that the White House disclosed last year,'' Stroh said in an emailed statement Tuesday.
"Any such activity is something we take very seriously. In this case, as we made clear at the time, we took immediate measures to evaluate and mitigate the activity. As has been our position, we are not going to comment on the referenced article's attribution to specific actors."
Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser to President Barack Obama, downplayed the 2014 breach, which affected only an unclassified system.
But CNN asserts that the data accessed, which included Obama’s schedule, “belies the seriousness of the intrusion.”
The situation better be serious – especially if you want to revive six-month-old accusations, still without any proof, outside of unnamed sources.
According to CNN, federal investigators consider the breach “among the most sophisticated attacks ever launched against US government systems.” But despite their advanced skills, the perpetrators were careless enough to leave “tell-tale codes and other markers” that “point to hackers working for the Russian government.”
One unnamed source told CNN that the Russian hackers have “owned” the State Department for months, and may still have access to the system.
No wonder former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used her personal email rather than the State Department’s alarmingly vulnerable system.
Many other media outlets have reported on CNN’s allegations that Russian hackers are to blame, but all of those agencies all have clearly attributed the claims to CNN.