Blog Post

New Journalistic Low: Newspapers Recruit Volunteers to Scour Palin E-Mails

Commentary by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Journalist Criticism is mounting over the decision by several major newspapers to recruit volunteers to scour 24,000 e-mail messages to and from Sarah Palin during her tenure as governor, ostensibly to help them uncover the "most important information." Chris Cillizza of The Washimgton Post blog The Fix put out a call asking people to volunteer to scour the e-mails which are being released today. Volunteers are invited to post comments on "the most interesting or most noteworthy sections." He goes on to say that they will "share your comments with our reporters and may use facts or related material you suggest" to annotate the documents displayed on the site. The New York Times put a similar offer on the table yesterday afternoon: "We’re asking readers to help us identify interesting and newsworthy e-mails, people and events that we may want to highlight." This blatant media frenzy in search of dirt on Sarah Palin is generating not only scorn, but a good deal of disgust from all quarters, including the media itself. "Can we imagine they are looking for the good things she did as Governor with the purpose of praising her?" asks popular Catholic blogger Fr. John Zuhlsdorf. "Surely there will be some.  If they find those things will they report them?  Do we expect stories about how, as Governor, she – say – helped a vet get a new wheelchair? My initial reaction is one of contempt," he says, and asks, "Does this seem to you to be a weird journalistic low?" Yes, according to many in the media, who are not afraid to point out the blatant hypocrisy in it all. " . . .(W)here was this crowd-sourcing investigative enthusiasm upon the release of the 2,000-page ObamaCare bill, when it could have uncovered all sorts of expensive hidden surprises?" asks Clay Waters of the Media Research Center's Times Watch blog. "I've never seen the news media do this, and it is beyond reproachful for them to have done this," said NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell on this morning's Fox & Friends show. "This is [the mainstream media] participating in a character assassination campaign" and shows "exactly how much the media despise Sarah Palin and to what ends they'll go to have her knocked out of this [presidential] race,"he said, adding that it was "unimaginable" that the press would go to same lengths to vet a Democratic presidential candidate such as Barack Obama. Palin supporters are not sitting idle on the sidelines, however, and are actively recruiting volunteers to join the Washington Post and New York Times team and root out the good news they find about the former governor. "There will be nothing in these emails for anyone to fear," says a posting on "However, that will not stop unscrupulous individuals from spinning them out of context in an effort to hurt the governor. She needs you guys to be the eyes looking over these, and not people who are determined to destroy her. Please get involved if you can." © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly®/Women of Grace®