Late last night, the media came out with reports of 4 women who allege that Donald Trump touched them in some sexual way.

12 hours later, people looking into it (not actual reporters), have found that:

Some of the claims match text from previous recorded sexual harassment or assault claims, as though borrowing verbiage to make them credible
One of the claims uses lyrics from a Velvet Underground song
One of the accusers is a Secretary employed by one of the Clinton’s organizations
The claims themselves defy logic—4 victims of a billionaire keep quiet for a decade or 3, skipping out on possible paydays from lawsuits, but then all come forward on the exact same day less than a month before the election

It is, of course, impossible to prove a negative and the clock is ticking on an effort to establish or discredit these claims before election day.  I’ll wager now that if they are all discredited before election day, more women will show up.  I will also wager that comments about the opening of the new Smithsonian Museum focusing on African Americans, which features Anita Hill and ignores Clarence Thomas, was some sort of reassurance to these women as they prepared to make their allegations.

But, it’s a week or two early for a proper October surprise.  Why now?  Well, there’ve been at least 6 different drops of email leaks related to the Clinton campaign in the last few days.  I have not scoured the leaked emails, but it certainly seems to include a number of ethical, and maybe criminal, lapses.

How to stop that getting reported?  With a Denial of Service (DoS) attack.

If you already know what a DoS attack is, skip ahead to the next one-line paragraph.

A DoS is an internet attack on a particular site, for example a web server.  Could be a big server like Microsoft or Google, or a small server like a local pizza restaurant.  The smaller the server, the easier the DoS attack.  Now, every time anyone visits that server, asking for a particular web page, the server notices the request, reads the request, finds the referenced web page, then starts sending it back to the originator of the request.  The process that does this is called a daemon.  It sits on the server waiting for requests.  Usually  many such daemons are waiting there, like taxis at the airport.  Each request is grabbed by a daemon and the next daemon steps forward ready for the next one.

While there is no theoretical maximum number of daemons, there are practical maximums to the number of file requests that can be examined at a time, and the amount of data entering and exiting the server.  So, if enough requests hit a server at the same time, the server will be momentarily too busy to respond to all the requests.  If the high number of requests continues, this becomes a problem.

When the high number of requests is intentional and orchestrated, this is an attack, specifically a Denial of Service attack—so named because a regular user of the web site, trying to reach it during the attack, will be unable to.  The web site is still up.  The attacker may be on a different continent.  But he or she has effectively shut down the server.

If you skipped the DoS description, re-join the discussion here.

The owner of the attacked server has tools to combat a DoS attack, but they take some technical skills and, of course, the owner has to want to.  Well, what owner of an internet server would not want to combat a DoS attack aimed at them?

Before I continue, let me recount a joke from the old British TV show Dave Allen At Large:

A Cardinal rushes up to the Pope and announces that Jesus has just entered Saint Peter’s Square, riding on a donkey.  “What should we do?” he finishes.
The Pope calmly replies, “Look busy”.

So far, over 6000 emails from Hillary crony John Podesta have leaked.  They are news.  But they are getting almost no air-time because the claims against Trump are all that’s being covered (in fact, some at MSNBC and other outlets have come on-air and said, ‘Nothing major in the emails, back to the Trump story.’)  This is, in essence, a Denial of Service attack on the media

As with the owner of the attacked web server, the media has the perfect tool to counteract this DoS attack.  It could simply give equal time to both stories.  But of course, they do not.  They have a story they can grind on to ‘Look Busy’ while burying the stories coming out of the emails.

Is it alarmist to suggest the media is complicit in this?  Well, the leaked emails are showing endless forms of complicity between the Clinton campaign and most every major media outlet there is.  And it’s naming names.  You might think CNN would welcome a chance to cut down its competition a little.  But they are just as vulnerable to the criticism.  So each organization ends up covering for all the others as it covers for itself.

One more thought on the DoS aspect of this.  We usually refer to the server-owner as the victim of a DoS, because their business is being attacked.  The attack takes the form of refusing service to existing or potential customers.  So in another sense, the victim is the customer.

And so it is in the DoS attack with the complicity of the attacked entities.  They still have their business.  They’re selling advertising and people are watching.   They can say they’re just doing their job.

But the customers, the news consumer, is being attacked.  They are being denied the full story of what’s going on.  Most of them don’t even know it, which is how the media wants it (there’s even an email among the leaked group saying precisely that!).

There used to be a time when an oppositional news media challenged and confronted all government agencies, effectively acting as an extra set of checks and balances, in addition to the three branches of Government overseeing each other.  That paradigm is dead—at least so long as the people leading the government share the values of the people managing the media.

To Be Continued….