Not Investigative Journalism’s Finest Hour

Dateline NBC undercover reporter outed

A LOT OF MAKEUP can make you prettier, but it won’t make you smarter. Michelle Madigan, Associate Producer for Dateline NBC found this out the hard way at Defcon.

According to sources at the show, she was there to do a piece called Hackers for Hire, with the goal of showing the criminal hacker underground and possibly outing an undercover fed. As Michelle was said to have said, “People in Kansas would be very interested in what is going on at Defcon”. She was busted hours before she walked in the door, the first slide before the keynote was this (see below), and the speaker asked to notify a goon (security) if she was spotted.

It did not take them long.


The crowd voted that it was “not cool” either that she’d been such an inept undercover journo, too easily outed, or that that she’d endured a hectic “perp walk” on the way to her car (not sure). One guy asked loudly if he could have her “human” (non-press, non-Fed, hackable) badge, and everyone enjoyed the spectacle of Michelle desperately trying to investigate her way out of a dead-end corner of the parking lot after she was hounded out of the meeting room.

They knew she was a journalist planning to attend, because she’d spoken to organizers a couple of times. They offered her press credtentials twice over the phone They knew when her plane departed and landed (not difficult, even if she didn’t volunteer the information). They offered her press credentials twice before the big “Out the Fed” contest she wanted to attend. They knew when she went to the women’s room that she was planning to wire up for video and sound. They knew she was running a camera (blatant clue: don’t pan your unattractive shoulder bag slowly but smoothly around).

All in all, another blot in Dateline NBC’s copybook.

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