In some cases, journalists don’t understand technical subjects and don’t bother to read up on them before writing their stories, so their misapprehensions will infect everything they write.
Worst of all, the public generally doesn’t understand technical topics like how viruses are transmitted or how computer databases work either. They have no choice but to trust the journalists whose work they read. The result is a systemic spread of misinformation.
Recently, this happened in a concerning way regarding the ongoing Arizona election audit.
The Media Lies Yet Again
To do a full audit of the 2020 election in Arizona, auditors need to be able to inspect a great of data that are found on the voting machines made by Dominion Voting Systems.
A crucial part of those data lies in special election-related databases that not only contain election data like vote tallies but also data about how the machines handled the election data.
Any comprehensive audit needs access to that database. If Dominion’s machines manipulated vote tallies in any way — whether by injecting votes for Biden, by weighting Biden’s votes higher than Trump’s or in any other way — the only way to know for sure is to look at that database.
However, as Arizona Senate Karen Fann explained in a blistering letter dated May 12, that database has been deleted by Maricopa County officials.
Immediately after Fann made this announcement, “fact-checkers” went into high gear.
Sites like Snopes quoted election officials as saying that this claim was false. They provided no evidence that the claim was false. They merely quoted some people who said that it was false. But that is how “fact-checking” works these days.
Then, it emerged that an investigator tasked by the Arizona Senate with conducting the audit, Ben Cotton of CyFIR, was able to recover the deleted database. The media, however, chose to spin this. CNN said, “Auditors hired by the Arizona State Senate backtracked Tuesday from claims that a key database had been deleted from Maricopa County’s election servers.”
For those who don’t know, when you “delete” data from a computer, that data isn’t actually deleted. Computers create little markers for themselves that allow them to locate certain bits of data.
When you click to delete a file, the computer deletes the markers but not the file itself. That can still be located and extracted using forensic techniques.
The Maricopa officials who tried to delete the election database didn’t know this, and it’s a good thing they didn’t.
As Cotton himself said in response to the lying by the media, “To confirm: the Databases’ directory on the EMS Primary Server WAS deleted containing the voting databases. I was able to recover the deleted databases through forensic data recovery processes.”