The FBI Allegedly Investigated This Guy’s ‘Joke’ As A Legitimate Threat To CNN

CNN Worldwide All-Star 2014 Winter TCA Party
Getty Image

In light of the recent Sony Pictures hacking scandal, the tense war of words with North Korea, and anything else that might be called hacking these days, the FBI is taking everything quite seriously. I guess when you’re being made fun of in public, it sticks in your craw a bit.

Take this news for example. Earlier last week, there were reports that the Guardians of Peace were allegedly targeting a media outlet for their next attack. The news ran with it and the FBI started to look into it as part of their ongoing investigation into the Sony leak. As it turns out, the entire threat was reportedly a hoax.

David Garrett Jr. has been taking interviews and answering questions from a number of media outlets following the reveal that he reportedly decided to post an anonymous Pastebin entry containing the “threat” to CNN. From Fusion:

A week earlier, the 30-year-old Knoxville, Tennessee man had authored a post on Pastebin that claimed to be a message from the GOP, the group that hacked Sony Pictures; in it, he mocked CNN’s reporting on the hack and demanded the network hand over “the Wolf,” a.k.a. anchor Wolf Blitzer. He thought the message was obviously satirical, an almost word-for-word copy of a message posted earlier that day mocking the FBI, that CNN had reported as coming from the Sony Pictures hackers. Like that message, Garrett’s linked to a YouTube video with an “You’re an idiot” song. Garrett wanted to make the point that messages posted on Pastebin that claim to be from the GOP are not necessarily from the Guardians of the Peace unless they are accompanied by proof, such as new documents from the hack.

Of course what happened after this is pretty clear. The Department of Homeland Security released a warning about another possible attack, news outlets ran with it, and Garrett Jr’s point was essentially proven. He decided to email the FBI to let them know what was going on, leading to an interesting New Year’s Day:

After journalists linked the DHS warning to his Pastebin post about CNN, Garrett emailed the FBI to clarify that he was indeed the author of the CNN taunt and that it was a joke, and that he hoped there were no hard feelings or legal consequences for this. “I asked the FBI to contact me, because I didn’t want it to blow up anymore that it already had,” says Garrett by phone.

At 5 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, a FBI agent from Los Angeles, the bureau heading up the Sony Pictures hack investigation, called him and said the agency understood it was a joke but had to follow up on it. At 9 p.m. as he was well into “getting his party on,” an agent from Knoxville called and said he needed to come into the bureau on New Year’s Day. “I don’t have money for a lawyer, but I invited a reporter to come with me,” says Garrett. Two FBI agents questioned Garrett for 45 minutes; the reporter wasn’t allowed in.

As someone who has been fooled by such things in the past few weeks, I think this makes a lot of sense. It takes a little more than just accepting the word of someone online, especially if they remain anonymous. In Garrett Jr’s situation, he’s provided proof on his Twitter account and reportedly to the FBI. The same can’t be said for any person who randomly goes onto Twitter or 4Chan, claiming to be a member of a group to get attention.

I do like that this came up at some point during the revelation process:

It’s like turning down the chance to be an oil boy for those Hawaiian Tropic gals. Someone else will come along and get that fame probably. At least no one got locked in a dark box with a turkey dinner up their butt.

(Via Fusion / David Garrett Jr / Gizmodo)