Earlier this week, Newsweek published an expose on the supposed and elusive founder of Bitcoin cryptocurrency - Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto. Nakamoto has since denied that he is the founder of Bitcoin and claims that Leah McGrath Goodman's story is false.
Goodman's story contains interviews with Nakamoto's family and details aspects of his personal life, including medical records and photos of his house. Many believe that regardless of whether Nakamoto is the actual founder of Bitcoin, Newsweek should not have exposed him. It is a question of journalistic ethics. It is the kind of question that keeps reporters up late at night.
Although Goodman and Newsweek have publicly defended her story, Nakamoto's emphatic denial that he had anything to do with Bitcoin, as well as the media frenzy that has followed him ever since, have cast a grey cloud over the story. Not only is the veracity of the report in question, but the reporter's methods are also under the spotlight.
Newsweek pieced together its report based on interviews with Nakamoto's estranged wife, brother and other family members. Goodman also researched Nakamoto's education, work history and life trajectory in great detail to reach the conclusion that he was indeed the founder of Bitcoin. She spent two weeks researching the story. Goodman also believed that Nakamoto's cagey responses, though inconclusive, "careful but revealing."
When Goodman arrived at Nakamoto's house for an interview, Nakamoto called the cops. Before she was told to leave, Goodman received the following quotation as well as a bit more information, on which she based her entire story:
"I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it," Nakamoto told Goodman. "It's been turned over to other people. They are in charge of it now. I no longer have any connection."
In an interview with the Associated Press, however, Nakamoto denied that he ever said those words to Goodman. Nakamoto speaks both English and Japanese, but his English is not perfect. It is entirely possible that Goodman may have misunderstood him, misquoted him or that he simply wasn't clear with his answer.
"I got nothing to do with it," he told AP multiple times. When asked about that specific quotation, which Goodman thought indicated his past involvement with Bitcoin, Nakamoto stated that he wanted to set the record straight.
"I'm saying I'm no longer in engineering. That's it," he said in regard to his discussion with Goodman. "And even if I was, when we get hired, you have to sign this document, contract saying you will not reveal anything we divulge during and after employment. So that's what I implied."
"It sounded like I was involved before with bitcoin and looked like I'm not involved now. That's not what I meant. I want to clarify that," he said.
Goodman defended her story and her use of the controversial quotation, stating that she recorded the conversation with the utmost accuracy.
"I stand completely by my exchange with Mr. Nakamoto. There was no confusion whatsoever about the context of our conversation -and his acknowledgment of his involvement in bitcoin," Goodman told AP.
Newsweek also released a post in support of Goodman's story.
However, the veracity of Goodman's story hit just one part of the whole controversy. Nakamoto is, by all appearances, a very private and humble person. He is not the type who loves media attention and wants to spin this situation into a reality TV show.
As he read the Newsweek story, Nakamoto repeatedly said, "Oh Jeez," and finally asked, " How long is this media hoopla going to last?"
Bitcoin is one of the most mysterious and complicated businesses in the world. It operates in complete secrecy and as such, is constantly under scrutiny. Everyone wants to know who's behind Bitcoin and what the business actually hopes to do with its cryptocurrency. After years without any clear information about Bitcoin's origins, Goodman's story is bound to create the biggest and most dramatic kind of media frenzy.
This hoopla is just getting started.