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Open Letter to Brian Krebs (restored)


I'm sending this to you directly before I post it anywhere because I feel the issue is truly serious enough to warrant a personal appeal.

You are one of the great investigative reporters of our age.  You have done more than just about anyone to sound the alarm on network and digital security.  You've set a standard of journalistic quality on par with the great journalists of history and everyone in their right mind honors that, including me.

However, this story doesn't meet that standard. I've identified three major flaws, plus two critical and verifiable falsehoods which cast your thesis into doubt. The Norse saga is a tale of great dreams with a horrible lack of maturity or experience, but you turned it into one of conspiracy and malfeasance where none exists, committing a fallacy of Hanlon's Razor.

In this I think you fell victim to confirmation bias; that you spend so much of your time snooping out bad guys (And thank you for that, seriously), that you believed you had a yet another example here.  The problem is your own choice of words betray you. You conflate Norse's founders and Cyco/Nexicon/etc.'s founders as part of the same conspiracy by being purposely ambiguous about who these "founders" actually are, yet are very specific about the dates when people became involved with things.

The fact of the matter is, demonstrably, that Cyco/Nexicon's founders are not Norse's founders; that Cyco/Nexicon's leaders are not Norse's leaders; that Cyco/Nexicon's assets are not Norse's assets; that Cyco/Nexicon's business practices are not Norse's business practices; that Cyco/Nexicon's failures are not Norse's failures.  I've never met Richard Urrea, and never heard him or Nexicon mentioned in any way other than disdain and hatred.

And the further fact of the matter is, you invented a link, via literary device, where there is no such link, and you let your bias find you and through you defame good people, via the flaws i demonstrated and refer to above.

There are few true libels left in our society, among these heinous disease, child abusers, felony status, and fraud.  This story accuses Norse, and by extension all of us who worked so hard to make it work, despite it's problems, of being participants in a conspiracy.  This is a heinous accusation, demonstrably flawed, which harms good people. Frankly, you've left us victimized twice.

And it is beneath the standards of veracity and journalistic quality that you yourself have set.  I ask you to do the right thing and withdraw it.

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Did he reply?

no... didn't expect him to.  It's bad enough having everything you've worked for collapse... it's worse having your work disparaged by sloppy reporting

I'm restoring this.  When i withdrew this yesterday, I was despairing and despondent... After discussing with several people, I now know more specifics than I did yesterday, and I want this here for posterity

Also here are a few of the points i refer to above, as written in comments on the story page:

You make two verifiable and specifically false accusations.

“The founders of Norse Corp. got their start in 1998 …” and “By the time the SEC revoked Nexicon’s trading ability, the company’s founders were already working to reinvent themselves yet again.”

Who founded what in 1998? It sure wasn’t Tommy Stiansen or Sam Glines and it sure wasn’t Norse. You already stated Tommy didn’t get involved for at least 4 or 5 years and Sam for another 10. Since Tommy and Sam are the 2 founders of Norse, did they travel back in time?

You then say Nexicon’s founders “working to reinvent themselves again”. Who are Nexicon’s founders? Not Tommy or Sam. They were just employees: Head Geek and Taskmaster. Perhaps it was Richard Urrea, who was definitely not involved with Norse.

Again, specifically and verifiably false, like a nice ribbon of lies to stitch your narrative together.

The reality here is you were fed a seemingly ready-made pile of sketch, perfectly attenuated with incompetence and a touch of malfeasance, and you had to tie in that juicy, hit-generating tidbit no matter what, even if it meant begging the question to do so… because the reality, that the founders of Norse, like so many other startup founders, two employees of a failing company sick and tired of their bosses incompetence and games, wasn’t interesting enough to fill column inches.

The more I think about this, the more I wonder if this false link you’ve made, that Nexicon = Norse, and that Norse is an extension of Richard Urrea’s corporate shell games, isn’t dangerously close to the definition of “actual malice”

Thank you for this clarification, Jason. 

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