NY Times Finds Little in Palin Email Dump, Writes About It Anyway

Not with a bang but with a whimper. Reporting from Juneau, Alaska, New York Times reporters Jim Rutenberg and William Yardley wrapped up Sunday the less-than-earthshaking findings from the media’s bizarre full-court press to see three-year-old emails from Sarah Palin’s time as Alaska governor -- “Palin’s E-Mails Undercut Simplistic Views of Her, Both Positive and Negative.”

In the three years since Sarah Palin stormed the national political stage, her brief tenure as governor of Alaska has often been reduced to caricature. Critics cast her as petty, preoccupied and disengaged. Supporters say she was a maverick reformer, a salt-of-the-earth true believer who bucked the establishment elite.

The Times’s own coverage of Palin certainly fits the “critics” part of the bill, and the paper's decision to "crowd-source" the Palin email dump with help from its liberal readership suggests it was eager to uncover controversy. It didn't quite turn out that way, forcing reporters to write around the absence of bombshells.

One aspect of the emails that the Times has yet to pick up on -- the death threats Palin received. London's Daily Telegraph reports Palin "received a barrage of abusive emails including death threats in the run up to the 2008 presidential race." Instead, the Times wrote:

Yet what is clear in the 24,000 pages of her e-mails released Friday -- completing Ms. Palin’s transformation from one of the most obscure politicians in America to one of the most scrutinized -- is that her governing style was not necessarily an either-or proposition. Sometimes she seemed to be everything all at once.

Rutenberg and Yardley went on to damn Palin with faint praise:

Winning the governorship here as a what-you-see-is-what-you-get hockey mom from Wasilla, she won fans for her promises to break with politics as usual. But, the e-mails show, she nonetheless went on to rely on standard statehouse fare like ghost-written Op-Eds and supportive letters to the editor, even prodding staff to flood online opinion polls to influence results. She was also, in the years before her national emergence, more open to compromise and political dealing than her more recent image suggests....While e-mails like these might fuel critics who question her policy acumen, others show Ms. Palin clearly engaged in lawmaking. She paid close attention to the legislative progress of what had been the top item on her 2006 campaign agenda, a plan for developing a natural gas pipeline.

Clay Waters
Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center . Read more: http://archive.newsbusters.org/bios/clay-waters.html#ixzz3CdgxLFgQ