This story was written by Keith Dawson for the Industry Standard's Media Grok email newsletter. It is archived here for informational purposes only because The Standard's site is no more. This material is Copyright 1999-2001 by Standard Media.

Gates Watergated?
Jun 19 2000 12:00 AM PDT

If the Wall Street Journal's Ted Bridis is this story's Bob Woodward, then Wired News' Declan McCullagh gets to be Carl Bernstein. (Sorry, Declan.)

Last Thursday, Wired News broke the story of failed offers by a shadowy company, Upstream Technologies, to buy the trash of a pro-Microsoft (MSFT) group. McCullagh linked this bizarre incident with a reported attempted break-in at Microsoft's Washington, D.C., office several days later. McCullagh also revealed Upstream as a front for a prominent Washington private-eye agency, Investigative Group International.

On Friday, the Journal's Bridis pitched in with a piece that got the story wider attention but didn't advance it much beyond McCullagh's coverage. (Curiously, the Journal did not credit McCullagh or Wired News.) Reuters jumped on it the same day, reporting that Microsoft's Washington office had not in fact been broken into, but that others in its building were. Reuters quoted a Microsoft spokesman saying that nothing appeared to be missing. No one mentioned that a thief could have walked away with data from office computers without leaving any traces at all.

In today's Journal, Bridis went deeper. He uncovered new material and linked the Upstream affair to break-ins, laptop thefts and press leaks at three other Microsoft allies. In a companion piece, the Journal's Glenn R. Simpson profiled IGI (IG) and its controversial founder, Terry Lenzner, who got his start working the other side of the break-in biz - as a Watergate investigator.

The New York Times picked up the story for Saturday's edition, giving credit to both Wired News and the Journal. Also on Saturday, the Seattle Times folded in the trash-and-break-in story with updates on Microsoft's various legal battles.

In a table at the bottom of today's piece, the Wall Street Journal tagged the affair "Gatesgate." We can only hope that moniker does not stick. - Keith Dawson

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