Michelle Madigan attempts to hack DEFCON

A pity effort to hack into the hacker-only conference DEFCON was attempted by the NBC reporter Michelle Madigan. Apparently the Associate Producer for Dateline NBC entered the DEFCON with a hidden camera and tried to film attendees confessing to illegal activities. According to some sources, Madigan was working on an investigative piece called “Hackers for Hire” which would have shown the underground world of the hackers community.

The DEFCON folks quickly picked up the scent (some claim they were tipped off) and told the audience that there is a reporter among them with a hidden camera. Michelle Madigan quickly left the conference room, chased down by over 100 of the participants. The tables turned on Madigan on exit, when she was chased down by a dozen of reporters trying to interview her. —Michelle Madigan attempts to hack DEFCON (OG Paper)

Mob justice.

I don’t think the “chased down by a dozen of reporters” is accurate — it sounded to me like it was a small gang of hackers who half-heartedly pretended to be reporters. One said “Thanks for playing!” and others chorused “Bye!” when she left the parking lot.

While the video is credited to “Elizabeth Safran,” there is something very discomfiting about a gang of men mocking and poking fun at a woman as she makes a beeline for her car. Having said that, Madigan had attended under false pretenses, and while the small crowd escorting her to her car was annoyed, they simply counted on their presence in numbers to give them authority, and — like any hackers would hack any system — used the tools of the existing system in order to upset the status quo. The TV news “perp walk” is a media event designed to shame a suspect and celebrate the power of the authorities, and here we see a reporter making that walk of shame.