Newsweek Just Dug Its Grave With The Help Of Leah McGrath Goodman
Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto, who Newsweek claimed was “the” Satoshi Nakamoto credited with the creation of Bitcoin, has issued a statement through his lawyer Ethan Kirschner completely denying his involvement in creating the digital currency.
“I did not create, invent, or otherwise work on Bitcoin. I unconditionally deny the Newsweek report,” Nakamoto said in the statement.
The story, which revealed details about Dorian’s life, complete with a photo of his house and car, sparked a modern tech manhunt as reporters raced to chase the man down. Dorian has denied everything again and again.
And now we have Dorian’s denial in writing as well. Reuters Blogger Felix Salmon originally produced the statement, but the note has been confirmed to be directly from Kirschner.
The Newsweek story made for an enticing headline (“The Face Behind Bitcoin”), but one with little substance. I like a good mystery as much as the next guy, and I was certainly drawn in by the report, but a little analysis shows it’s nothing more than Leah McGrath Goodman’s horrifically bad journalism: sensationalizing a hunch and publishing a story she knows isn’t convincing.
As Felix Salmon suggests, if Goodman had approached the story differently—perhaps as a narrative of how she arrived at her conclusion (including any other characters she eliminated along the way)—it wouldn’t have sparked so much backlash. But, of course, that wouldn’t make her any less wrong.
The problem I have with this story is the sheer disregard for Dorian Nakamoto’s privacy. Posting false information about a private citizen and exposing them to the risk of personal injury, as well as a horrendous amount of harassment, does not constitute “open discourse.”
Newsweek should do themselves a favor and admit—publicly—that the story was poorly researched and, frankly, a mistake to publish.
The company is just barely staying afloat as it is. Indeed, this is the same news outlet that sold for $1 in 2010. They’re clinging to any scoop they can get to stay alive, but you would think they’d have the sense to distinguish between investigative journalism and speculative clickbait. Any hope Newsweek had of reviving its credibility is deteriorating by the minute as the editors sit idly and “stand by the facts,” which were almost entirely speculative, if not completely libelous.
Posting the home of a private citizen and harassing their family is no way to run a reputable news organization, and they should be ashamed of themselves for hiding from their mistakes like this.
Not only does such a decision lack personal and professional responsibility, but it’s a poor business decision as well. They are, no doubt, generating massive ad revenue upfront, but most of those clicks are coming from people who are forming a negative opinion of Newsweek because of their shoddy reporting, and thus will not be back.
On to the real news.