Shortly after New York magazine posted a cover story Sunday evening that features on-the-record testimony and photographs of 35 of the 46 women who now claim to have been raped or sexually abused by Bill Cosby, the magazine’s website went dark, apparently the victim of a DDoS — techno speak for “distributed denial of service.” Translation: The magazine’s servers were overwhelmed by traffic as a result of malignant software engineered by a hacker.
The web attack made the story at least temporarily inaccessible to the majority of New York readers who view the bi-weekly publication online. Although the New York Times reported that the site was back online at around noon Monday, several attempts to access nymag.com from different systems were met with messages saying the site could not be accessed.
“We’re experiencing technical difficulties and working to get the site back up,” Lauren Starke. a spokesman for the magazine, told Deadline at 2:15 PM New York time. “I’m sorry but I don’t have any updates beyond what we’ve posted at @nymag (we’re aware of the problem and working on a fix; in the meantime we have published the cover story on Tumblr, and audio on Instagram).”
The timing of the attack couldn’t have been worse for the Adam Moss-edited magazine. The Cosby story, with its sober, monochrome cover, text by senior editor Noreen Malone and photographs by Amanda Demme, represents a journalistic coup and is the result, according to the magazine, of more than six months’ work with the women who were willing to take the extraordinary step of coming forward.
“Accompanying this photo essay is a compilation of the interviews with these women, a record of trauma and survival — the memories that remain of the decades-old incidents. All 35 were interviewed separately, and yet their stories have remarkable similarities, in everything from their descriptions of the incidents to the way they felt in the aftermath. Each story is awful in its own right. But the horror is multiplied by the sheer volume of seeing them together, reading them together, considering their shared experience.
As it happens, the web attack probably had nothing to do with the Cosby story.
Early Monday morning, the website dailydot.com reported that the attack was a hate crime apparently perpetrated by “a self-described hacker called TheThreatKing,” who claims that a recent trip to Gotham caused him to loathe all things New York — or, in this case, with New York in its name, according to the story by William Turton.
“[I]t’s not an attempt to silence the 35 women who have come forth to describe their alleged assault, nor the magazine that pieced their story together, ThreatKing said,” Turton reported. “Instead, he claimed, this stems entirely from his dislike of New York City, which he extends to magazines that share its name.
“Many stupid people at [sic] New York,” ThreatKing told The Daily Dot over a Skype chat. “I have not even seen the cover, LOL,” he said, adding, according to dailydot.com, “I went to new York 2 months ago. It was really bad. Someone pranked me. Everyone started laughing and shit. The first 10 hours being there. Some African-American tried to prank me with a fake hand gun.”
New York‘s print circulation has remained steady at around 400,000 since going biweekly over a year ago, according to the magazine’s publishing side, while nymag.com and its various web spawn had 19 million unique visitors last December according to Comscore, one published report said, with the balance of advertising revenue moving over from print to online and significant editorial resources shifting from print to the web.