There’s a video doing the rounds of a woman harassing White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer at an Apple Store. The usual suspects are disgusted with the fact that she repeatedly says Spicer works for a fascist. But we here at Gizmodo are much more interested in the questions that can’t be answered from the video: Specifically, what products did Spicer buy and how quickly were they hacked by a foreign government?
Right off the bat, we know that whatever Spicer bought, it wasn’t for President Trump. The president quite notoriously doesn’t use a computer, and his favorite phone is an Android. But hopefully whatever Spicer did buy won’t be touching any sensitive material. Off-the-shelf computing equipment is a great target for state actors to spy on each other.
As just one example, back in 2008, Russian spies were trying to get into a classified NATO network that wasn’t connected to the public internet. How did they get in? According to Fred Kaplan’s book Dark Territory, the Russians supplied cheap thumb drives loaded with malware to retailers around NATO offices in Kabul. US servicemembers purchased the drives and plugged them into secure computers.
And I know what you’re thinking: But the Trump White House has been so secure! They have the NSA, which is specifically charged with helping make sure stuff like this doesn’t happen! And we know how well Trump is getting along with the Intelligence Community! They’re besties! And besides, how could a near-peer adversary like China (or an ally like Germany) ever get malware loaded onto devices at an Apple Store that White House staff might be shopping at?
The mere thought of it all is absurd, I know. Especially when you’ve got a crackerjack team of cybersecurity experts like Rudy Giuliani looking after your interests. And Sean Spicer is nothing if not known for his computer security.
But I’m just asking questions, much like the woman in the Periscope video who wants to know how it feels to work for a fascist. Not great, I would guess. Not great.
Update, 7:45am: I’ve been informed by my colleague Christina Warren that at least one of the products we see in the video is an Apple Sport Watch. If it’s for Spicey’s personal use I think we can safely say that Chinese spies now have a minute-by-minute account of the Press Secretary’s heart rate.
Update, 1:51pm: Sean Spicer is currently giving his daily press conference but no one has asked why he bought an Apple Watch this weekend.
Update, 1:54pm: Spicer is talking about job creation but still has yet to address his Apple Watch purchase.
Update, 1:57pm: Spicer is just said that Obamacare is “failing every American who has Obamacare.”
Update, 1:58pm: Still no comment on Spicer’s Apple Store purchases.
Update, 2:01pm: Journalists keep asking questions about silly things like how the Republican health care bill will strip 15 million people of coverage and Trump’s claims about Obama wiretapping him and not asking the important questions like why a grown man in the Trump White House would buy an Apple Watch.
Update, 2:06pm: A journalists finally asked about the Apple Store, the most important story of the day. She said that while the person shooting video may have been aggressive, how should people interact with Spicer when they have a question for him.
“Ask it,” Spicer laughed. “I interact with individuals all day along. Ninety-nine percent of them are pleasant even with people who may not agree with our philosophy or programs or whatever. But it’s a free country and the beauty of it is that people can act how they want, no matter how that’s interpreted. And as long as they step on... stay on the right side of the First Amendment, we’re good.”
Update, 2:17pm: The press conference is over, but after giving it a long hard think I have no idea what it means to “stay on the right side of the First Amendment” when you’re talking to a White House official in public.