Media uses hacked crowdfunding information to dox and harass First Responders who donated to legal defense funds

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Former President Donald Trump famously called the media the “enemy of the people,” but the media gave that description more credence this week when it utilized hacked material to publish the names of everyday American citizens who anonymously donated to legal defense funds.

 

Quick Facts

 

 

Last week well-known British news outlet The Guardian shared the names of various public employees who had donated to legal defense funds for Kyle Rittenhouse and police officer Rusten Sheskey. Rittenhouse,18, is accused of killing two white protesters and wounding a third in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last August, while Sheskey shot and paralyzed Jacob Blake, a black man who was wielding a knife.

 

Rittenhouse has pleaded not guilty to the charges, claiming self-defense. Local prosecutors announced that there would be no criminal charges against Sheskey, who was also recently found though an independent review to have “acted within the law and consistent with training.” He has since returned to active duty.

 

A writer for The Guardian opened the article by explaining, “A data breach at a Christian crowdfunding website has revealed that serving police officers and public officials have donated money to fundraisers for accused vigilante murderers, far-right activists, and fellow officers accused of shooting black Americans.”

 

Ostensibly this is doubly concerning because, “in many of these cases, the donations were attached to their official email addresses, raising questions about the use of public resources in supporting such campaigns.”

 

The donors had given anonymously, but a “transparency group” known as Distributed Denial of Secrets had hacked the website and downloaded the donor information. The names and other details were then shared with The Guardian.

 

One of the donors doxed in the report was police officer William Kelly. The officer was fired from the Norfolk Police Department when the Guardian article revealed that he had donated $25 to Rittenhouse’s legal defense fund and used his official email address. Kelly also left a comment saying, “God bless. Thank you for your coverage. Keep your head up. You’ve done nothing wrong. Every rank and file police officer supports you. Don’t be discouraged by actions of the political class of law enforcement leadership.”

 

Norfolk City Manager Chip Filer and Police Chief Larry Boone concluded that Kelly’s actions violated city and department policy. Filer said, “His egregious comments erode the trust between the Norfolk Police Department and those they are sworn to serve. The City of Norfolk has a standard of behavior for all employees, and we will hold staff accountable.”

 

Boone added, “A police department cannot do its job when the public loses trust with those whose duty is to serve and protect them. We do not want perceptions of any individual officer to undermine the relations between the Norfolk Police Department and the community.”

 

A Utah paramedic also drew unwanted attention after his name was exposed for donating $10 to Rittenhouse’s defense fund. Jason Nguyen, a local reporter, tracked down the paramedic and went to his home to “get his side of the story.” The paramedic understandably did not want to speak to the media but Nguyen posted a picture of himself at the man’s front door in a since-deleted tweet.

 

Nguyen’s actions drew sharp criticism. NewsBusters managing editor Curtis Houck stated, “Far too many journalists are willing to destroy the life of a private citizen doing nothing and bothering no one at a moment’s notice. It’s frightening and un-American.”

 

“If you don’t like the enemy of the people label, perhaps stop acting like such,” tweeted Stephen L. Miller.

 

Dinesh D’Souza called out Twitter’s hypocrisy by tweeting, “Why hasn’t Twitter banned this reporter for exposing a private individual to harassment at his home, a paramedic whose only ‘offense’ is to make a perfectly legal $10 donation to an accused man’s defense fund?”

 

Ian Miles Cheong noted, “Harassing a private citizen for donating to the defense fund of someone who’s not yet been convicted of any wrongdoing is not journalism.”

 

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These were just two of the people doxed for making small donations to legal defense funds. It is important to remember, as Cheong alluded, these donations were to accused — not convicted — Americans. What makes the American justice system unique is the presumption of innocence. The burden of proof is not on the accused but on the accuser.

 

The issue here is one of journalistic malpractice. The Guardian requests donations for its content saying, “Through these turbulent and challenging times, millions rely on the Guardian for independent journalism that stands for truth and integrity … With your help, we will continue to provide high-impact reporting that can counter misinformation and offer an authoritative, trustworthy source of news for everyone.”

 

Generally speaking, The Guardian is left leaning but a relatively strong news source. This article, however, was hardly in keeping with the noble ambition of standing for truth and integrity. The opening paragraph betrayed the author’s bias and dispensed with any illusion of neutrality.

 

The article exposes the identities of regular Americans for making donations as small as $10. These are First Responders, people that the media claims to love and respect, especially during COVID. This behavior has real-world consequences, including harassment, potential harm, and the loss of a job.

 

The Guardian justified its actions with the concern that these public employees used their official email addresses. Technically, it is most likely true that these employees are not supposed to use official email for any personal purposes, but let’s dispense with the faux outrage. These employees were not using government resources for any personal benefit, such as enriching themselves. They simply entered their government email address on an online donation site that was supposed to be anonymous.

 

The media wants people to believe that then-Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s decision to thwart federal law and jeopardize national security by using a private email server for official U.S. business is fine, but a paramedic entering his work email address to donate $10 to a teenager’s legal defense fund should be outed, harassed, and shamed.

 

And don’t forget that Vice President and then Sen. Kamala Harris and other liberal politicians encouraged the public to financially support the Minnesota Freedom Fund, which paid the bail of Antifa and Black Lives Matter rioters and looters; the fund bailed out several individuals who were later re-arrested on charges of murder, sexual assault, kidnapping, illegal gun possession, gun and drug charges, and rioting.

 

The media and Kelly’s supervisors threw this long-serving police officer under the bus because he did not have the right opinion, not because he used his official email address, as their comments reveal. No serious person cares about a person’s $10 or $25 donation to a perfectly legal cause.

 

For the media, this was nothing more than a great opportunity for reporters to intimidate and retaliate against those who would support a cause that the left does not agree with. And if it just happens to have resulted in one more police officer being forced out of service, then to their mind, that’s likely an added benefit.