When the news of Jonah Lehrer's resignation from the New Yorker broke Monday, ambulance chasers and media navel gazers rushed to the source of Lehrer's dramatic fall from grace - Michael C. Moynihan's Tablet magazine article exposing the author's fabrications of Bob Dylan quotes in his bestselling book Imagine: How Creativity Works.
But for extended periods on Monday and Tuesday, a visit to Tabletmag.com was met with an error message that the site was offline.
Tablet's executive editor Jesse Oxfeld published a statement on Tuesday, explaining why Tablet has been difficult to access. According to Oxfeld, the site has been experiencing difficulties since before Moynihan published the story, and the presumed source of the trouble is a bit more nefarious than overloaded bandwith:
The Lehrer story brought us an unprecedentedly large legitimate traffic load. Some commentators and observers speculated that that's what brought us down. It's true that the rush of readers coming to the Lehrer story was much larger than normal, but I am assured by our IT team that we had more than sufficient bandwith and server memory to handle it, Oxfeld wrote, pointing out that for several hours Monday afternoon, the site supported heavy traffic without incident.
Our IT team strongly believes that what we were experiencing-and have been for some time-are sophisticated attacks specifically targeting Tablet, not just run-of-the-mill Internet-as-Wild-West hijinks, Oxfeld continued. It is possible that whoever is out to get us seized on a moment when we had high publicity and high server demand to attack. It sounds a little paranoid, granted, but as the saying goes, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.
Tuesday's statement elaborates on Tablet's Twitter announcement on Monday: We're suffering a DDOS attack. Techs are working to get things back up. Google cache of the Lehrer piece is here: bit.ly/Q6HTU0.
As a post on Twitchy.com pointed out, not everyone following the story was convinced.
lol I think Tablet Mag doesn't know the difference between a DDOS attack and a lot of new readers, wrote @nemoran3.
Who are all these Jonah Lehrer fans launching a DDOS attack on @tabletmag?, asked @daweiner.
Lehrer's resignation comes a month after the 31-year-old made a formal, public apology for using self-plagiarized material -- recycled pssages from his book that he published, in some cases verbatim, in blog posts for the New Yorker. In June, Lehrer's editor David Remnick stood by him and allowed him to keep his job. On Monday, Remnick issued a statement in response to Lehrer's resignation, which according to the New York Times, he accepted Sunday night.
This is a terrifically sad situation, Remnick said, but, in the end, what is most important is the integrity of what we publish and what we stand for.