Media Won’t Retract Anonymously Sourced Claims That Colonial Pipeline Refused To Pay $5 Million Ransom

Media Won’t Retract Anonymously Sourced Claims That Colonial Pipeline Refused To Pay $5 Million Ransom

Multiple corporate media outlets relied on anonymous sources to report that the Colonial Pipeline would not pay the ransom demanded by cyberattackers who targeted the fuel transportation system. That turned out to be false, and Colonial did in fact pay the $5 million ransom, but several outlets have yet to retract any of their previous reporting.

Reuters reported Colonial would not pay the ransom based on “sources familiar with the company’s response.” And while there’s a notice on the story headlined “Colonial Pipeline has no plan to pay ransom to hackers -sources” that “this story refiles to fix typographical error in paragraph 10,” Reuters did not respond to The Federalist’s questions about whether they would be issuing a retraction of the article.

The Washington Post also cited two anonymous sources as the basis for its reference to Colonial Pipeline’s decision not to pay a ransom.

“Meanwhile, Colonial and its cybersecurity consultants were working to secure its servers, having decided not to pay a ransom demanded by foreign hackers, according to two people familiar with the matter,” one Washington Post article from Wednesday claimed.

Another article, headlined “Colonial Pipeline said to have no plan to pay hackers ransom” repeated and promoted the information from Post’s sources as fact.

“Colonial Pipeline has no plan at this point to pay a ransom to decrypt data files, said two people familiar with the matter. Rather, they are working with the cybersecurity firm Mandiant to restore the data from backup systems where possible and rebuild systems where backups are unavailable, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the matter is still under investigation,” the article states.

CNN was one of the only outlets to issue a correction on their false reporting. The article, originally headlined “Colonial Pipeline not likely to pay millions in ransom demanded by hackers,” claimed that anonymous sources and experts “familiar with the response” confirmed that the pipeline was not interested in paying the cryptocurrency price.

Now, the article is headlined “Colonial Pipeline did pay ransom to hackers, sources now say” and features paragraphs walking back CNN’s former claims. A correction notice is tacked to the bottom of the digital story stating that it had since been modified to “reflect new reporting,”  but the corporate media organization did not respond to The Federalist’s questions about why the article was not fully retracted.

“An earlier version of this story said Colonial Pipeline was not likely to pay a ransom. The headline and story have been updated to reflect new reporting that they did pay and clarify the data recovery process,” the correction reads.

The New York Times was one of the first corrupt media organizations to be dishonest in its coverage of the Colonial Pipeline and the ensuing gas shortages. Shortly after the Colonial Pipeline shut down, the New York Times claimed there were no lines at gas stations along the East Coast even though some had already completely run out of fuel.

“Colonial Pipeline, a vital U.S. fuel artery that was shut down by a cyberattack, said it hoped to restore most operations by the end of the week. Since the shutdown, there have been no long lines or major price hikes for gas,” the New York Times wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.

Jordan Davidson is a staff writer at The Federalist. She graduated from Baylor University where she majored in political science and minored in journalism.
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