Today the New York Times picks up on a story about their former reporter Kurt Eichenwald, one that's been drifting around the internets for a week or so. It began with a piece on Counterpunch by Debbie Nathan. Here's the Times's hedging-some-bets opening: "A former New York Times reporter who wrote an article in late 2005 about a teenager who operated a pornographic Web site may have sent more money to the young man than he had previously acknowledged, according to people familiar with sealed documents filed with a court in Tennessee."
Now, we didn't pick up on Debbie Nathan's story last week either, because her piece didn't name a dollar figure. So we thought: Paypal? Porn sites? Okay, so in the course of learning stuff for his story about child pornography on the internet, or in advance of working on the story, he sent $19.99 to a bunch of porn sites. Go figure. (Please. What American hasn't Paypaled money to a porn site, after all?)
Now the Times coughs up a dollar figure for this transaction: $1100. This comes from the same people who are "familiar" with the sealed documents. So, that could be true!
And that's more money. That's interesting!
But really there's another reason we can't stand writing about Kurt Eichenwald, and we're probably not alone. It's the people who email us. Like so:
On 8/3/07, Mike Murphy wrote:
Hey, if you folks are bored with dumping on Eichenwald, let me know. Nothing from you guys all week, even though there was a lot to snark about. Here is the latest from those in the know:
The description of that website as being written by someone "in the know" is at least accurate in one sense; the proprietor is surely involved in one way or another with some ongoing prosecution. Or at least his friends are. We've read the stuff on there before and, yeah, never again.
Which is too bad. The stuff that's verifiably true IS interesting! The stuff that's not is just scary.
And our correspondent Mike Murphy, who seems like a very nice guy, by the way, whatever his real name is, is very busy disseminating stuff about Eichenwald: he hits all the weblogs, from Texas Monthly's to Jossip.
Check what happens in the comments on this thread over on journalist Daniel Radosh's site. Daniel picked up Debbie's piece last week, and next thing you know, people are writing about Tim Richards and how Kurt Eichenwald put innocent people in jail and blah blah crazy conspiracy land.
And so we never ever ever want to write about any of this ever again. What's most annoying is that we're against the hysteria about internet porn, and against innocent people going to jail and all that. And we figure there's gotta be at least more than one good story in all this. But is it worth the disgusting hassle?