Media Fawn Over Kurt Eichenwald, Overlook Sordid Past Involving Child Porn Site Expose

He posed as a "pervert" version of Don Henley and paid the so-called "child porn star" more thousands of dollars.

The mainstream media's new darling is left-wing Newsweek writer Kurt Eichenwald, who recently had a very public meltdown during an exchange with Fox News' Tucker Carlson. 

That Eichenwald made a complete and utter fool of himself during that interview is inconsequential to members of the Left. In fact, they've already rewritten history to assert that Eichenwald "owned" Carlson during the exchange. 

Okay. 

On Thursday afternoon, however, freelance journalist Sebastian Jones took to Twitter to ask why the mainstream media is ignoring Eichenwald's checkered past. Newsbusters parses the relevant portions of Jones' discussion thread, in which he highlighted the fact that in the mid-2000s, Eichenwald embarrassed himself "after it was discovered that, while at The New York Times, he had neglected to inform his editors, readers, and fellow writers that he had given thousands of dollars to gain the trust of a teenager connected to the dark world of child pornography for a December 2005 expose in the paper."

Jones provided a screen shot of Eichenwald's explanation of how he supposedly stumbled on this "bombshell" of a story:  

It was entirely by accident that he turned his talents to exposing the Internet-porn business, he says. Between investigations, he was Googling for a new project. “I was looking for something international,” he has said, and something involving dirty money. So he typed in Interpol, fraud alert, and investigations. That led him to a Website called MexicoFriends.com, which sounded to Eichenwald like it might involve cross-border money laundering but turned out to be an amateurish porn operation starring Justin Berry, who was 18 at the time, and a parade of beautiful Mexican women. His eye fell on the Website’s help icon. It was illustrated with the face of a young kid—Berry at about age 14.

 

Rather than contact authorities immediately and ensure future children would not be victimized, Eichenwald instead reached out to Berry posed as a pervert-version of -- wait for it -- "Don Henley from the Eagles." Newsbusters explains what followed: 

[Eichenwald reached out to] Berry posed as Don Henley from the Eagles’ who was, in the words of the New York magazine piece, a “pervy fan” and “obsessed admirer.” Eichenwald claimed that he did so only out of his “increased...concern of the youth and his fears for the kid’s safety.”

The level of misbehavior and irresponsibility continued as Eichenwald wired cash to curry favor with this child-porn site without the knowledge or permission of The Times: 

Apparently Eichenwald cited "significant memory disruptions" -- you know, due to his "seizure disorder"  --  when it came time to explain his actions. 

Newsbusters notes that even outlets like NPR ultimately found "horrifying details such as an account believed to have been from Eichenwald 'had high-level administrative access' to the child porn site “JustinsFriends, which would have allowed him to closely monitor the site’s business.'" In 2007 NPR wrote of Eichenwald: 

In March of this year, in the trial of Berry's adult business partner, Greg Mitchel, it is revealed that Eichenwald wrote a check for two grand to Berry before their meeting. Though the money was subsequently repaid to Eichenwald by a relative of Berry's, it is contrary to journalistic ethics and Times practice for reporters to exchange funds with sources.

Once caught in this severe omission, Eichenwald's excuses for his actions are, frankly, lame. He claims he wrote the check and met Berry as a private citizen trying to help a young man who was caught out. It was only after meeting Berry that Eichenwald — according to Eichenwald — became interested in him as the subject of a story. Be that as it may, Eichenwald still had a responsibility to tell his editors about the financial transaction. Eichenwald writes on the media site Romenesko: "Once the reporting began ... a financial transaction from a month before ... just slipped away amid the 18 hour days, seven days a week of turmoil and chaos."

You know, I've been under deadline stress before. But never to the point I've forgotten about a two-grand check I've written to a kiddie porn star. Eichenwald did assure the Times that except for one further $10 transaction through a PayPal account, the two grand were the only funds exchanged with Berry.

 Eichenwald maintained then that he'd only made a $2,000 payment to Berry, until, as NPR's John Ridley points out, "the eighth of this month [August, 2007], when it's reported that sealed documents in the trial of another of Berry's business partners purport Eichenwald sent at least another $1,100 dollars to a PayPal account maintained by Berry and Mitchel, at times under another name."

And Eichenwald's newer, lamer excuse for actions he — according to him — may or may not have taken? "If these PayPal payments did occur in June 2005, I am deeply sorry that my inability to remember them has resulted in permitting a series of convicted felons to cast doubt on the nature of my wife's and my efforts to save a young man who was caught in the grip of a cycle of drugs and abuse."

In the same year, then-Executive Editor for the Times, Bill Keller, acknowledged Eichenwald's transgressions in a statement: 

“What we published in December 2005 was a disturbing portrayal of a pernicious online world. It is clear, however, that the methods employed in gathering the material violated Times standards. Had Kurt disclosed to us the full extent of his involvement with his sources and subjects we would have been obliged, at least, to have his work verified by another reporter.”

The Times concluded that "like most mainstream news organizations, prohibits paying sources for information, and it bars reporters and editors from having financial relationships of any kind with people or organizations that figure in their coverage."

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