It's a story of betrayal worthy of an episode of Dateline NBC.
Dateline NBC Producer Michelle Madigan was publicly outed at the DefCon security conference in Las Vegas Friday after show organizers were tipped off that she was trying to film show attendees with a hidden camera.
Madigan ran from the show after organizers publicly threatened to escort her from the event during a 4 p.m. conference session. "She literally kicked the door open," said "Priest," a show official who declined to be identified. "She made the mistake of running. Had she taken it like an adult, she would have been treated with kid gloves, treated with respect."
The Dateline NBC producer than continued out to a nearby parking lot, surrounded by a small crowd of show attendees and media, talking briefly on her mobile phone and not saying anything to the gathering crowd.
Show organizers had been warning attendees all day of Madigan's presence and had repeatedly asked her if she would register as press, Priest said.
Show organizers believe that Madigan had been looking to talk to hackers and federal agents, possibly with the intention of drawing attention to the fact that federal agents participate in a show whose attendees are known to skirt the law. "My guess is that she wanted a splash piece along the lines of, 'We have a whole bunch of people who are criminals. We have federal agents here as well,'" Priest said.
DefCon had been tipped off by Madigan's associates, who Priest declined to name. Dateline NBC could not be reached for comment.
DefCon organizer Dark Tangent (a.k.a Jeff Moss) said that he's concerned that the Dateline producers may have been trying to sensationalize the conference, thus undermining the show's goal of fostering a free exchange of ideas. "We researched them online and we see [the show's producers] do hit and run pieces," he said. "It's not actually research and news. It's just sensationalistic nonsense. And that makes us nervous."
Media and bloggers have gone undercover at DefCon in the past, but nobody of the stature of NBC has ever tried this, Moss said.
"I'm concerned that some impressionable kid... is just going to get cornered and is going to start bragging about stuff," he said. "The next thing you know, he's on nightly news."
DefCon runs through Sunday at the Riviera Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.