“Don’t let its past good work fool you… something has changed”
With proof of broken promises, political prisoner MartyG is warning sources not to trust Deseret News.
After the recent debacle at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, many of the attendees who work for publications known to be politically opposed to President Trump were left to tweet about how the type of blatantly biased political attacks that punctuated the evening have lowered the bar of journalism and made the public increasingly distrustful of the media in general. And they were right, even if the irony and perhaps the hypocrisy of their words were lost on them.
But even in DC, at least clear lines have been drawn. Everyone knows who’s on which side. That’s not always the case though, especially now with the political winds shifting so rapidly and sometimes suddenly.
Take Utah’s Deseret News for example, for which my wife Dana and I recently made the mistake of agreeing to be sources for an article that its reporter Jennifer Graham claimed was going to be about ethical hacking.
At first, I was very pleased with the prospect of working with Deseret News because I was familiar with the work it had done years ago exposing institutionalized child abuse in the “troubled teen industry” in its native state and I hoped, given their initial emails and my background, that the article on which they wanted our help was going to be a continuation of that very important yet under-celebrated work.
For more background on my history, please see this article at Red State called, “City Of Boston And Hospital Violated Teen Girl’s Human Rights, Hacker Who Fought For Her Faces 25 Years In Prison,” which is available here, or this article which ran in a December print edition of The New American magazine with a title “Save a Girls Life, Get Treated Worse Than a Terrorist,” which is available on our website courtesy of The New American here, or this Rolling Stone feature named, “The Hacker Who Cared Too Much: How a Crusade to Save Children Landed a Hacker in Prison – Rolling Stone” which is available here. Although I must note that while Rolling Stone got a significant number of my biographical details wrong, the rest of the story is largely correct and its spirit is both accurate and commendable, unlike that of the recent Deseret News piece.
For an example of the better previous work done by Deseret News exposing the brutality of the troubled teen industry in its state, you can check out this article on its website from nearly 15 years ago, entitled, “Boarding Schools Go Unchecked in Utah,” available here. And to further illustrate the horrific abuses common throughout the industry, check out this litany detailed in sworn Congressional testimony by the investigative arm of Congress, the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), available here:
That’s what befalls children when their parents send them off into this industry expecting them to get qualified mental health treatment for behavioral and other issues like eating disorders, autism, ADD, and you name it. Here is the former chair of the House Committee on Education and Labor, George Miller, opening a hearing on the industry 11 years ago and sadly, largely thanks to a dogged misinformation campaign waged by the industry, little has changed since:
So, it’s against this back drop that Deseret News reporter Graham contacted us and asked about my advocacy on behalf of these children. But don’t let its past good work fool you, as I did, something has changed at the publication. And don’t let the headline on the article they recently published, “What we can learn from the good-guy hackers,” fool you either, it seems like a typical cover on a planted story meant to help the troubled teen industry trick desperate parents, as the industry commonly does in other ways too, some of which the GAO also testified about in front of the House Committee on Education and Labor, as you can watch here:
Indeed, one of the ways that you can tell that there’s something off with Graham’s coverage at Deseret News is that you won’t find any of this documentation mentioned in her article. And while she was sure to link on one of abusive institution’s websites in her work, she didn’t link to the other side of the story, here. Worse still, she further misled the Deseret News audience by quoting from an investigative agency claiming to have cleared that institution of wrong doing without mentioning that this agency is itself known to be compromised, due to its seemingly revolving door policy allowing staff to move back and forth between oversight and industry roles as you can see here. For just one example, see the documentary “Who’s Watching the Kids?” by PBS Montana, available here. Tellingly, it also seems that Graham intentionally didn’t mention the over 2,000 signatures and hundreds of revelatory comments left on the petition asking that same so-called “academy” to stop abusing children, which you can find here.
But I digress. Not only is such one-sided hyperlinking an obvious sign of a lack of journalistic neutrality no matter what Graham may claim, but it also serves a more insidious purpose for the high-priced, high-profit teen torture centers which make up an industry worth billions. These programs spend big money advertising to desperate parents on the internet and on search engine optimization (SEO), which is the practice of gaming Google to show up higher in its search results, and the more sites that link to a given page, the higher up in those results that page climbs. If Graham had linked to both pages then at least her article would have had a neutral effect on search results instead of helping the program edge out its survivors’ stories on Google.
And why should anyone ever help a facility known to abuse children attract more customers as Graham and Deseret News have done? Was Graham’s article a paid puff piece? After all, this industry has even bribed judges to sentence thousands of children to juvenile detention at its for-profit prisons, which you can read about here or watch in the documentary “Kids for Ca$h,” available on YouTube here. And here’s what the American Bar Association told Congress about the industry and online marketing in 2007:
Despite egregious abuses, these facilities continue to grow in number and size. The industry is booming and reportedly worth over a billion dollars. A parent may pay between $3,000-$5,000 per month to send their child or youth into a private unregulated residential treatment facility and not be able to monitor his or her progress because of rules limiting family contact. The industry prospers on promises to modify troublesome behavior and to make “bad” kids good. Its financial sustainability is ensured by frequent deceptive advertising on the internet that market facilities as offering an array of mental health and of educational services that are often not available or provided by unqualified staff.
Further, the decision of Graham and Deseret News about to whom to link and to whom not to link seems even more deliberate in light of the relevant parts of the email exchange below (see here for screenshots):
FreeMartyG on 4/20:
Hi Jennifer,No, the trial has been delayed. We can let you know as the schedule firms up, but right now it’s kind of in the air. Marty’s attorney is filing a dispositive motion to dismiss pursuant to the federal Speedy Trial Act today. We expect that motion to be meritorious, if only in the long run on appeal to the First Circuit Court of Appeals. Obviously while the case is pending Marty has to be a little more careful about what he says but he is open to the idea that if you submit a list of questions for him, I can try to get you recorded answers from him. Unfortunately he’s not able to just call whoever he likes and he’s only allowed to update his phone list 4 times a year, so that would be the best way of dong it. Phone time to the jail is very expensive though, so for us to do that we would like to ask for you to link to FreeMartyG.com and make a note that people can donate to support Marty there.
We definitely would link to your website, and I am dismayed that this has been postponed yet again.
Hi Jennifer,Thanks for agreeing to link to the website and saying people can donate there to support Marty. Please find the recording below. Let me know if you have any questions or if there are any problems with the clip.
You see, despite the above, Graham and Deseret News didn’t mention anything about donating to FreeMartyG. Not that it would have mattered though, because from the one-sided way the article was written when it first came out it seems unlikely that anyone would have donated anyways. For instance, the “attack” of which Graham speaks was in fact a twitterstorm, and as you can read about here, this “attack” consisted entirely of sending awareness-raising tweets. And even if they were to correct some of the above now in a belated effort to save face, such late modifications would be unlikely to be seen by many.
Additionally, we had an agreement with Deseret News to post our audio from our YouTube channel as you can see here:
FreeMartyG on 4/24:
No problem. I uploaded the first recording to our YT channel here: https://youtu.be/ZfkuXevAS94I set it as private so it doesn’t go out to our followers until the article drops. Let me know when the publish date gets closer and I’ll change it to public.
*Please embed the audio clip from our YT channel.
Okay, will do. Thank you!
Hi again – this link isn’t working for me… do I need to subscribe to your channel to access it?
And we never gave them permission to post it to their SoundCloud as they did.
All of the above should give any potential source considering working with Deseret News and in particular Graham great pause. It appears they don’t keep their word and calling their end result “journalism” is a stretch, to put it mildly, when they make such glaring material omissions of facts for the seeming purpose of benefiting child abusers.
Also, I found Graham’s misrepresentation of deceased hero Aaron Swartz wholly distasteful. For a more complete version of his story, please see the award-winning biopic about him, “The Internet’s Own Boy” on YouTube here.
For a version of the Deseret News article, “What we can learn from the good-guy hackers,” as it originally ran, you can find it on on archive.org here. But take it, Graham and the publication with a grain of salt — or a truck-full — and think twice before working with them.
We’ve been in touch with Deseret News regarding the issues surrounding this article and while they’ve made some minor corrections they appear unwilling to address the vast majority of the larger issues and are yet to issue a retraction.
Marty is an Obama-era political prisoner. To donate to support him or follow him on social media through his unjust incarceration please go to FreeMartyG.com.