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ABC News Mistake Leads To Exposure Of Mark Foley's IM Partner

William Kerr at Passionate American has discovered the identity of the one of the persons that Representative Mark Foley communicated with in instant messages. Kerr was able to find the identity of the former congressional page due to the ineptitude of ABC News, who published the AIM screen name of Foley's chat buddy in the initial PDF release of the IM exchange.

Tens of thousands of people saw the screen name in the PDF's attached to Brian Ross's report at ABC's The Blotter before it was fixed; and many more were alerted to ABC's failure sanitize their documents in a comment made one hour and six minutes after Ross's story was published:

One of the worst things is that this news story showed the kid's screenname (before fixing it), which allows anyone to find his personal information, pictures of him, websites he's posted on, etc. This is such terrible editing, I can't believe it. Getting a news story out quickly is one thing, but giving out the names of everyone involved is irresponsible.
Posted by: Random | Sep 29, 2006 7:05:37 PM

ABC never bothered to remove that comment, so those reading the post days latter knew that ABC had "blown it" when first publishing the story. That was like a big banner announcing that the identity of Foley's IM partner could was out there for an enterprising sluether to find. The fact that Kerr was able to identify the victim is hardly a surprise, given that his AIM screen name was visible on the ABC website for nearly an hour; it was bound to happen...

All that said, there is absolutely no value in Kerr's publication of the young mans identity. The young man clearly was under 18-years-old when at least one of the IM conversation took place, "i'm not 18 till feb 23" and Foley's trolling for young teen boys was hardly a Hill secret. The publication of the young man's identity - he's a Republican campaign worker - is actually a rather sorry moment in the history of the blogosphere...


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Comments (14)

The page who's name was rel... (Below threshold)

The page who's name was released should sue ABC, and teach them a very important lesson.

The IM originally used by A... (Below threshold)

The IM originally used by ABC was after the guy turned 18. Another mistake by ABC. They (ABC) have been doing a real scrub job on their internet site but screen shot got them anyway.

The former page is now over 21 and working (paid) on someone's campaign staff. Something is still smelling rotten.

After all the slime in the past three days by the democrats you can't blame the blogger for publishing the entire identy of the 21 year old X page. Now they can suck it up and accept it or outlaw homosexuals all togather. Hard on the left wingers isn't it.

Anyway there was a revenge motive for all of this. Why, that mean old Foley voted against gay marriage and the plan to destroy him took three years. It is a good lesson for the homosexuals anyway. Cross the left wing and they'll destroy your life. Good blackmail tactic to keep them in line. It's worked with welfare for the blacks for 50 years so guess the homosexuals will fold to them to.

That's freakin' hilarious, ... (Below threshold)

That's freakin' hilarious, Lee.

This kid is going to sue ABC for exposing his screen name after he supplied them with his saved IMs?

Yeah, that's right. He sent them to ABC. Nobody else could have. Sure, some IM services maintain a log, but that's not something the public can access, or the press, or even law enforcement without a warrant (unless it was an ongoing terrorism case).

So, if not from the kid himself, WHERE did ABC get them? ABC claims they were sent by the former page. You be the judge.

Whatever his age at the time he SAVED the IMs in the first place, when he sent them to ABC, he was 21. If he wanted his screen name kept private, he could have simply edited it out himself - just like he could edit anything else in a saved IM file.

Foley is a creep - that much isn't in dispute - and he has lost his seat, his reputation, and may face criminal charges. That doesn't necessarily make everyone else a "victim," though. If you are getting IMs you don't like, you can sign the damn thing off, can't you? Wouldn't you think a kid who got to be a page and got into Cal would have enough sense to know that?

Typical Democratic outlook: if you do something stupid and suffer because of it, look around for someone else to blame and sue.

Yeah -- I'm just guessing h... (Below threshold)

Yeah -- I'm just guessing here Jim - but I suspect that the page requested that his name be withheld (and can therefore sue ABC for publishing it).

We know that because when ABC printed excerpts of the messages they --uhm, follow me here Jim... withheld his name!

Gee, Lee, you mean there is... (Below threshold)

Gee, Lee, you mean there is some exception to the 1st Amendment allowing newspapers to be sued for publishing - even accidentally - information you VOLUNTARILY provided them?

Do try to keep up.

Mr. Addison, I wonder if th... (Below threshold)

Mr. Addison, I wonder if this kid - young man was the one to turn these over.

From what I am reading someone had access to Foleys screenname and computer. (of course, I don't believe everything I read or see, BUT)

ABC is getting info from former pages... but I thought these came from another source Maybe I am confused - thought that is what was on Oreilly tonite.

"Foley is a creep - that much isn't in dispute" AGREED

Then you follow with ..."necessarily make everyone else a "victim," though. If you are getting IMs you don't like, you can sign the damn thing off, can't you? I get the idea these Political science kids were trying to keep a contact to further their careers too. Doesn't that kind of make it an abuse of power by Foley?

Were they using each other?

But here is my question, being computer stupid, can you tell that it is me personally using my computer? Is the only way to say this isn't my comment to be somewhere else?

The publication of the y... (Below threshold)

The publication of the young man's identity - he's a Republican campaign worker - is actually a rather sorry moment in the history of the blogosphere...

Seriously, what a jackass.

Yeah, Jim, if you provide t... (Below threshold)

Yeah, Jim, if you provide the media with information, you can do so with the condition that your name is withheld.

That's why you'll see terms like "information provide by a State Department official speaking on the condition that their name is withheld" in the newspaper.

DUH, Lee.The media... (Below threshold)

DUH, Lee.

The media can withhold your name IF THEY WANT TO. If you might be fertile ground for future info, they probably will.

The question, though, was can they be SUED, as YOU suggested, for NOT doing so.

I say, NO, they cannot.

You are of course free to hold any idiotic opinion you wish. I've noted many instances of you exercising that freedom.

Soupy ~ ABC said they got t... (Below threshold)

Soupy ~ ABC said they got the IM texts from the former page. I take them at their word, absent evidence to the contrary.

Perhaps the young man was "using" Foley's attention to somehow promote his career, as you suggest - but I still think that precludes his claiming "victim" status. Clearly, if one party sees some advantage in an ongoing communication, and keeps it up, their "victim" claim is severely diminished, eh?

Legally, ABC probably can't... (Below threshold)

Legally, ABC probably can't be sued. Previous accidental exposures have not resulted in successful lawsuits. Once you voluntarily talk to the press they are under no legal obligation to withhold any of the information.

The term "off the record" is a "gentleman's agreement" only and holds no legal bindings. News organizations generally hold to them because if word gets out that they don't abide by it they find their sources dry up quickly as no one will talk to them.

If this person had NOT been the one to send the information to ABC and it was some unknown third party then he might be able to sue the third party. He still wouldn't be able to sue ABC.

Well, minor correction, he can ALWAYS file a suit, but a judge would just throw it out.

Faith:Some never l... (Below threshold)


Some never let facts, reason or logic get in the way of emotional behavior/statements. Ususally these are preschoolers, but sometimes they are octogenarians.

The question, though, wa... (Below threshold)

The question, though, was can they be SUED, as YOU suggested, for NOT doing so. I say, NO, they cannot.

At the very least, "if I give you this, you agree to not publish my name" is a contract that they could probably be sued over breaching.

Right, Brian. Faith has joi... (Below threshold)

Right, Brian. Faith has joined the ranks of Republican liars.

I wonder if she gets bonus points for repeating the lie more than once...?






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