Perhaps most damning is the void that has followed “The Big Hack”: No competitor of Bloomberg has yet matched the story, despite vigorous efforts by some of the country’s leading outlets. Ignoring the Bloomberg story was not an option, considering that the hack alleged in the piece — the implanting of a tiny microchip on server motherboards — was a scary operation. If true, the scoop would be the portal to a national scandal of sorts — something that no outlet could afford to sit out. The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and The Post, in addition to other outlets, have all tried to replicate Bloomberg’s findings — without success.
Yet the story’s status as a journalistic dangling modifier puts Bloomberg in league with a couple of other major stories of recent months that stand by their lonesome, with just one news brand attesting to their bona fides. Every journalist loves to produce an exclusive, but no journalist wants a permanent exclusive. “Being alone is great for about two days and then you start saying, ‘Where is everyone else or where is anybody else?’” says Bob Woodward, who partnered with Carl Bernstein on The Post’s coverage of Watergate. Referring to former Post eminences Katharine Graham and Ben Bradlee, Woodward says, “Ben would say, ‘Kay says if it’s such a good story, where’s everybody else? Why are we alone?’”