Benghazi-Obsessed Reporter Claims Gov’t Hacked Her Computer, Actually ‘Backspace’ Key Was Just Stuck (VIDEO)

Former CBS reporter and current Benghazi conspiracy theorist Sharyl Attkisson recently made the quite serious claim that during her investigations into the US government’s failures surrounding the 2012 Benghazi attack her personal computer was hacked by an unnamed government agency bent on preventing her from exposing the truth. Unfortunately, it appears Occam’s Razor wins again: her “hack” was less a government conspiracy to cover up Obama administration crimes and more a broken “backspace” key on her laptop’s keyboard.

Her network, CBS, did come under attack from hackers, but it has not been shown that those hackers targeted Attkisson’s work specifically nor has it ever been proven that the government was behind the attacks. It’s worth noting that in the past few years, nearly every high profile business and organization has, at various times, come under digital attack by hackers hoping to gain access to privileged information like social security numbers, credit card information, and incriminating photos.

Despite the lack of evidence, Attkisson went ahead and wrote a book breathlessly titled Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington that is light on actual facts, but heavy on the kind of fingerpointing hysterics that tinfoil hat-wearing Benghazi! nuts love.

Attkisson’s (likely, imagined) hacked computer fits into the narrative that Obama and his jackbooted thugs are using the vast resources of the United States government to cover-up “presidency ending” crimes committed during the 2012 Libyan embassy attack. As such, just as she resigned from CBS for not reporting on Benghazi enough, her star was rising in the conservative media. They used her status as a “legitimate reporter” to justify the frequent overblown claims about Benghazi. They latched onto the idea that Attkisson was an intrepid reporter just trying to uncover the truth against the corrupt and monolithic Obama administration.

Her accusations of conspiracies against her, like that of Benghazi itself, may be a bit divorced realty, though. As Vox points out, most of what Attkisson describes as hacking sounds like technical glitches, demonstrating a lack of understanding on her part over what exactly she means by the term she throws around:

Hacking often gets embellished for dramatic effect in the movies, but in the real world it rarely produce effects that are visible to a user. Hacking a computer usually doesn’t cause it to emit a “reeeeeeeeeee” sound, as Attkisson says two of her computers did. There’s no particular reason why having your home network hacked would cause your digital television to “spontaneously jitter, mute, and freeze-frame,” as she said happened to her. And there’s not much reason to think the extraneous cable she found attached to her FiOS box was placed there by a US intelligence agency. If the NSA did hack her laptop, they would be able to send back data over her normal internet connection, so it’s not clear what the point would be of adding an extra cable.

By far the most embarrassing piece of supposed hacking evidence comes from a video Attkisson took with her phone showing her computer being “hacked” in real time.

The video features a word document on Attkisson’s laptop being slowly deleted. It’s terrifying prospect for a journalist, no doubt, but probably not evidence of a vast conspiracy to shut her up. In fact, when Media Matters asked a computer security expert what they thought was happening during the video, Matthew Brothers-McGrew, a senior specialist at Interhack Corp. said it appeared more likely that the computer was just malfunctioning (something that we all know is a frequent, frustrating occurrence.)

[S]ometimes computers “malfunction, a key can get stuck, sometimes dirt can get under a keyboard and a key will inadvertently be held down.” He explained that sometimes there can be software issues “where the computer will think a key is held down in fact it is not,” and said that his firm tested holding down the backspace key on a computer in their offices, and found “if you have Word open it will continually backspace text at about the same rate we are seeing in the video.” [source]

If this were just a bit of trivia Attkisson placed in her book, then we might be able to just laugh it off. Unfortunately, it appears to be the central thesis; The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple calls it the book’s “narrative spine.” Attkisson is convinced that she was hacked and the perpetrators of those attacks originate from within the government. She then uses those assumptions to vindicate all of her reporting on what happened in Benghazi. Without the hacks, you might as well hold down the backspace key on the rest of the book’s claims.

Of course, it’s impossible to prove that Attkisson’s computer and television weren’t hacked, but before giving Attkisson’s wild-eyed theory any credence, we should probably check our conclusions against the very real possibility that the only conspiracy is that which we all know: Technology sometimes bytes.