Shadowproof began publishing in August 2015 by Kevin Gosztola and Brian Sonenstein, formerly of the mainstay progressive website, Firedoglake.
Firedoglake was founded by Jane Hamsher in 2004. She launched it because she believed blogging could potentially have the same impact that rock music and independent films once had on society.
In 2007, Firedoglake became the first blog to gain credentials to cover a federal trial when it obtained two press passes for the Scooter Libby trial. Firedoglake had a team live-blog the trial in Washington, DC, and the website quickly became a resource for the most up-to-date coverage of the trial. Many journalists used it as a reference for their own reporting.
After Barack Obama was elected president in 2008 and unveiled his plan for health care reform, Firedoglake fought hard for the adoption of a public option and single payer system, keeping the former a major point of contention in the healthcare debate until the very end. Firedoglake also conducted polling months before the election that showed the Affordable Care Act was unpopular and that multiple Democrats would lose their seats as a result. In the end, nearly every result predicted by Firedoglake came to fruition.
In 2010, Firedoglake launched the Just Say Now marijuana legalization campaign, which became the largest advocacy effort to end marijuana prohibition on the Internet. Just Say Now organized thousands of volunteer phone calls to voters in California in 2012, and again in Colorado and Washington in 2014 — working closely with state campaigns to organize online advocacy efforts in those states. Just Say Now eventually grew its Facebook account to 3 million followers.
That same year, Firedoglake helped fight for the first audit of the Federal Reserve, organizing a transpartisan coalition at the height of gridlock on Capitol Hill.
When the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion and oil spill began, Firedoglake sent staff member Michael Whitney to New Orleans as oil began appearing on the beach. When austerity hawks in business and government began to organize behind closed doors to cut social security, the Firedoglake community sprung into action and shed a light on their efforts, helping to stop multiple commissions and even pushing AARP to drop their support for cuts.
Then came Occupy Wall Street on September 17, 2011. Firedoglake was one of the first outlets to live blog and aggressively cover the movement. By November, the organization had launched The Occupy Supply Fund to help the movement sustain itself and keep encampments flourishing through the winter. A network of movement liaisons and community representatives formed so that union and American-made warm clothing, blankets, hats, gloves and other gear could quickly be distributed to Occupy groups. Individual reader contributions paid to purchase and distribute the goods, and funded Kevin Gosztola’s three reporting trips in 2011 and January 2012 to produce firsthand accounts on what was taking place in cities with surviving encampments.
Firedoglake used this network and replicated these support efforts to aid the Keystone XL protesters and Hurricane Sandy relief workers.
The media organization extensively covered military whistleblower Chelsea Manning, who provided over a half million documents that included details of war crimes and diplomatic corruption to WikiLeaks. First, Firedoglake helped expose the abuse Manning endured at the hands of Marines in a prison in Quantico, Virginia. Once Manning was moved to Fort Leavenworth, Firedoglake became a primary source for information on her upcoming court martial.
Kevin Gosztola covered the major pre-trial hearing (Article 32) at Fort Meade in December 2011, where a military judge decided to refer charges against her to a full court martial. Firedoglake was one of a handful of media organizations to have a journalist cover all of the pretrial hearings throughout 2012. When it came time for the trial in June 2013, Gosztola was there every day, including when she was convicted and when she was sentenced to 35 years in military prison.
Firedoglake took the experience of covering a major whistleblower case and developed a reputation as a resource for the latest news on other whistleblower cases. Gosztola followed the case of former CIA officer John Kiriakou, who confirmed that President George W. Bush’s administration had officially approved the waterboarding of prisoners. He took a plea deal and went to federal prison in Loretto, Pennsylvania. While in prison, he wrote “Letters from Loretto,” which Gosztola published. Firedoglake also raised money to help the Kiriakou family while he was in prison and visited John
After months of denial of service attacks on the website, Firedoglake went on hiatus in January 2015.