Sunday Times' hatchet job on former United States spy Edward Snowden has been equally fascinating and amusing to unfold. What was the august organ thinking, publishing a piece like that in today's technology-driven and hyperfast media environment?
Not only that, but when Sunday Times bandied around terms that were just plain wrong, intelligence wonks and tech geeks alike rose up and shredded the story completely.
It's just highly unlikely that China and Russia would've been able to "crack Snowden's files" even if they'd got hold of them in the first place.
Sunday Times faithfully reported the British government's position saying they had been cracked, but later said it doesn't have any evidence of that or anything else in the story for that matter.
Oops. It's a bit trickier these days to just take down what anonymous government spokespeople tell you to, and have people believe that Snowden has "blood on his hands."
The issue's taken a turn for the comical with Sunday Times issuing a takedown notice under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act against The Intercept which wrote a stinging criticism of the British paper's Snowden story.
Sunday Times would've done well to look up the term "Streisand effect" before calling in the lawyers.
Think what you like about Snowden and the journalists he works with to expose secret mass surveillance and cyber warfare schemes set in motion by intelligence agencies, but has he done as much damage as governments claim?
That's far from sure, as it would be silly to think the West's adversaries hadn't spotted the extensive global wiretapping of communications cables, satellites and networks. It beggars belief that surveillance programmes that started many decades ago had gone unnoticed.
Conversely Western governments seem pretty good at causing real, long term damage to their countries' national security by themselves. Consider the recently revealed - by accident - hack on the US government Office of Personnel Management which leaked somewhere between 9 to 14 million staff records.
The records contained very personal details, and also official security clearance information on government employees and military personnel. They were leaked because of slack security on OPM's servers, where much of the data stored wasn't even encrypted.
Some people or organisations out there, be it state operators or whoever, now has that data and can use it for years to come. Blackmail, mapping staff movements, subversion, there are plenty of uses for the data. In terms of damage, the OPM hack is monumental.
There's a stronger case to suggest that Snowden's leaks caused economic damage. A second report by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation reckoned that US tech industry as a whole is underperforming thanks to what Snowden revealed.
Overseas buyers don't trust US-made tech which they fear is riddled with backdoors for spy agencies.
"Even if the tech is safe and secure, the possibility of surveillance means it's easy for other countries to say no to US gear in favour of local vendors. "
Protectionism, in other words. This is exactly what Huawei's been up against ever since it started expanding out of China.
"... the economic impact of US surveillance practices will likely far exceed ITIF's initial US$35 billion estimate [by 2016]," the foundation wrote.
Had Snowden not disclosed the joint US, UK, Australian, NZ and Canadian those losses would not have materialised - if the secrets of the ever-increasing surveillance and aggressive cyber warfare schemes had been kept by Western governments.
As we've learnt from the OPM hack, keeping sensitive information secure isn't the forte of governments. Snowden too is a case in point here, because he didn't actually have to work that hard to copy however many files he did.
Having learnt nothing from the Snowden experience, there are now calls from Western governments for more warrantless spying on networks, less oversight, backdoors in encryption, restrictions on security research and testing.
How could that possibly go further wrong?