Photo: ilijiahao的照片 via flickr
After a posting a story today about Camille Chidiac — the man who just admitted he was behind the mysterious websites attacking two USA Today reporters — one of his spokespeople contacted me to talk about his side of the story.The spokesperson said that Chidiac is embarrassed.
But he’s ready to take all the blame.
He was formerly the co-owner of successful Pentagon contractor Leonie Industries, which specialises in “strategic communications” and Information Operations — known to the public as military propaganda programs.
Earlier this year he registered websites and forums that claimed to be “unofficial fan sites” for two reporters, Tom Vanden Brook and his editor Ray locker, who had written critically about U.S. military information campaigns in the Middle East with which Leonie Industries was involved.
But the websites ended up hosting online discussions slamming the two journalists. Chidiac denies that this was his intention.
“Due to the un-moderated nature of the forums, some of these discussions quickly degenerated from legitimate criticism to immature and irrelevant rhetoric by unknown users,” wrote Chidiac.
USA Today claimed the online activity was a smear campaign against its journalists.
His spokesperson pointed out that Chidiac did not publish false content; he just re-posted articles written by Vanden Brook to the “fan site” he created.
The thing is, it didn’t seem to be much of a fan site.
One of the prominently featured articles was a story by Vanden Brook that contained inaccuracies — suggesting that the public should be wary of the USA Today reporter’s credibility.
I asked Chidiac’s spokesperson why his client labelled the anonymous websites as “fan sites” — that pretense has people wondering about Chidiac’s motivation.
The spokesperson acknowledged they don’t know Chidiac’s motivation for doing that.
According to Chidiac, the sites were always “intended to create open dialogue in an open forum related to the reporters’ past articles.”
“I take full responsibility for having some of the discussion forums opened and reproducing their previously published USA Today articles on them. Even though the USA Today articles written about my family included unfair personal attacks and false statements by the reporters, it did not motivate me to post anything personally nor did I encourage anyone to post anything that was untrue or defamatory in any way,” he wrote in a statement.
He currently has a team of professionals representing him, from a defamation lawyer to media management.
The spokesperson asked not to be named, iterating that the story’s not about him.
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