Hey Joe, here’s a quarter. Buy a clue about Apple

For MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, Russian interference on Facebook, Twitter and Google leads straight to… Apple?

Remember all the fuss in February 2016 when former FBI director James Comey ordered Apple to unlock a San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone and Apple refused?

Joe Scarborough hasn’t forgotten.

Scarborough doesn’t pretend to know anything about hackers and strong encryption, but that didn’t stop him from expressing—in a rant that went on at the time for nearly six minutes—his shock and outrage that Apple would dare defy Comey’s court order.

What Scarborough saw as Apple’s arrogance and highhandedness in the San Bernardino case has gnawed at him ever since. And Tuesday morning, when the Morning Joe team turned to the roles Facebook, Twitter and Google played in the 2016 Presidential election, Scarborough’s mind went straight to Apple.

Cue the same rant Scarborough delivered 20 months earlier, about how it was Apple’s responsibility to create a back door for the FBI, no matter how much danger that might pose for the rest of us. It didn’t make sense to me back then, and it makes even less sense today.

I didn’t take notes until he got to the end. “The government,” he concluded, forgetting his libertarian roots, “as dysfunctional as it is, they have to fix this.”

One of the ironies here is that when Comey’s agents finally got into the San Bernardino iPhone—thanks to some some well-paid freelance hackers—they found nothing useful. Kind of like the Clinton e-mails Comey’s agents discovered on Anthony Weiner’s computer two weeks before the 2016 Presidential election.

See also: Who elected Tim Cook?


  1. Gregg Thurman said:

    Rarely does knowledge/intelligence appear as a prerequisite for a “journalism” career. Being able to draw eyeballs is the #1 prerequisite.

    The real tragedy is that the majority of readers can’t tell the difference between informed articles, and bullshit articles.

    October 10, 2017
  2. David Humphrey said:


    Speaking of hacking, there is a story that CoS Gen Kelly’s phone was hacked last December which was only discovered this past summer. Do we know what kind of phone he was using?

    October 10, 2017
  3. John Kirk said:

    Let’s take a hypothetical. “A” is a dangerous individual who has committed a crime. “B” is a government that wants to review the contents of A’s phone in order to see if there is evidence of that crime. Sounds totally reasonable, right?

    Now let’s fill in some details. A is a dissident in North Korea or China or Russia or you-pick-the country and the government wants to review the contents of A’s phone to see if they oppose the official views of the government.

    Hmm. That’s a little different, right?

    What some people refuse to get is that if Apple provides data to the FBI or to the CIA from a locked iPhone, they have to do the same for every other country in the world. And that ain’t good.

    Now let’s move on to practicality. People use the term “back door”. We need to stop doing that. It’s a misleading metaphor. Lowering security for “just” the government is like lowering the height of a dam or punching a hole in a dike. It won’t just be the government who pours through the hole. It will be every thief, hacker, con-man and alien government who has the chops to do so. Companies (cough Equifax, cough Target) can’t protect our data when they’re trying their best to do so. What do we think will happen when they purposely weaken their security?

    But, I don’t think any of this really matters. Apple has seen — or long ago saw — the writing on the wall. So long as they are capable of breaking into their own phones, some nation’s government will insist that they do so. So Apple is making it impossible to break into their own phones. There will be downsides. A child dies and the parents ask Apple to unlock his phone. No can do. Someone loses their password and asks for Apple’s help. No can do. A terrorist uses a phone to commit a crime and we want to review the contents of the phone. No can do.

    But the upside is that the phone’s defense will be just as strong as it can be.

    Security on a phone is like a lock on your home’s door. That door may belong to a criminal. But that doesn’t mean we should lower the quality of all locks. Nor should we lower the quality of all phone encryption.

    October 10, 2017
  4. Ken Cheng said:

    “forgetting his libertarian roots”

    How can one even remotely fathom taking the government’s position here, if they are a libertarian?

    October 10, 2017

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