The comment comes in reference to the New Year’s Eve story in the Washington daily which falsely claimed that anonymous sources reported that "Russian government hackers had penetrated the US power grid through Vermont’s Burlington Electric Department."
The story caused great public outcry after the Burlington Electric power company debunked the threat by clarifying that that the potential infection was on a laptop not connected to the grid, and that the "nefarious activity detected may not even be linked to Russia."
The Washington Post had to publish a retraction admitting that "the incident is not linked to any Russian government effort to target or hack the utility."
Politico however noted how such a "flurry of unfounded cyber charges against Moscow" threatens the outgoing Obama administration.
"The whiplash Vermont story has played out as Obama administration officials make their final pitch to convince Congress and the public that senior Moscow officials tied to Putin's regime orchestrated a robust hacking campaign to interfere with the US election," it noted.
The outlet interviewed several cyber specialists who only confirmed that "inaccuracies in reporting cyberattacks — whether in the media, by government officials or by companies themselves — can only sow doubts about Moscow's capability with people who are already skeptical about Russian attempts to influence the US election."
Robert Lee, a former Air Force cyber operator who now heads the digital security firm Dragos has suggested that "people [are] vehemently saying [about Vermont], obviously this is proof that the Obama administration faked the DNC [hack] and maybe it was an inside job."
John Hultquist, director of cyber espionage analysis at iSIGHT Partners, a division of top security firm FireEye acknowledged that the fake report has "completely overshadowed the realities of previous espionage operations."
Meanwhile Craig Varoga, a longtime Democratic strategist noted that "from a public perception standpoint, the incident makes it look like all the hacking reports might be false after all."
The outlet also suggested that Vermont false positive could also "play into the hands of President-elect Donald Trump, who has scoffed at the accusations about Russian election-meddling."
On Wednesday, award-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald noted that The Washington Post's story is "not a case of good journalism producing inaccurate reporting; it is the case of a media outlet publishing a story that it knew would produce massive benefits and consequences without the slightest due diligence or care."
In his article for The Intercept he strongly criticized the authors wondering what was the Post’s motive in publishing false stories about Russia.
“But what was the Post’s motive in publishing two false stories about Russia that, very predictably, generated massive attention, traffic, and political impact? Was it ideological and political — namely, devotion to the DC agenda of elevating Russia into a grave threat to US security? Was it to please its audience — knowing that its readers, in the wake of Trump’s victory, want to be fed stories about Russian treachery?” Greenwald asked.
“Was it access and source servitude — proving it will serve as a loyal and uncritical repository for any propaganda intelligence officials want disseminated? Was it profit — to generate revenue through sensationalistic click-bait headlines with a reckless disregard to whether its stories are true? In an institution as large as the Post, with numerous reporters and editors participating in these stories, it’s impossible to identify any one motive as definitive,” he stated.