After the Ashley Madison hack spooked moralizing hypocrites and millions of would-be adulterers, the Associated Press conducted an investigation into the data that turned up “workers at more than two dozen Obama administration agencies” who had been using the cheating site from their government desks. The AP tracked down the offending bureaucrats by tracing the Internet Protocol Addresses—a unique number assigned to every internet-connected device, called an IP address for short—associated with the hacked accounts to government computers.
So what happens when you search the same data for the Associated Press and other news outlets?
Many IP addresses are publicly associated with the institutions that control them. We used two sources of IP address data—the American Registry for Internet Numbers and a private database from geo-location firm MaxMind—to come up with a list of address ranges assigned to the AP and other news outlets, and then looked for those addresses in the Ashley Madison data.
We found dozens of accounts that appear to have been created with computers owned by Fox News (49), the New York Times (85), Condé Nast (29), and, yes—the AP (30). Most interesting, perhaps, are the ten Ashley Madison accounts created by computers that appear to be associated with Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network.
Some caveats: although we’ve checked and double-checked the IP ranges in question, they’ve all been sourced from a third party and not the organizations in question. IP addresses are not permanently assigned and can change hands over time, so it’s possible that some of these addresses may not have been used by the news organizations at the time the accounts were created. To verify the data, we have spot-checked many of the accounts, and we generally found that they either were created or appear to have been created by people who work at the associated media company.
It’s also entirely possible that each IP hit on Ashley Madison represents someone perusing the site in the course of journalistic research—all 30 of them at the AP, even. Also, these figures only represent accounts created at work computers, not those created elsewhere and accessed at work, or accounts used by members of the media away from the office.
Our findings are below. And yes, we checked Gawker Media’s IP address: No hits. Sorry.
|Dow Jones & Co||110|
|New York Times Company||85|
|Fox News Channel||49|
|News Corp UK||26|
|New York Daily News||12|
|Christian Broadcasting Network||10|
|New York Times Digital||2|
Keep in mind that corporations like Viacom and NBCUniversal are enormous media conglomerates that include many large networks of their own. Or, maybe they are just particularly horny.
Additional reporting by Keenan Trotter and Tim Burke