WARNING: RANT AHEAD
Since the election of President Barack Obama, Sarah Palin to me has been largely inconsequential. She wasn't someone I railed against. In fact any mention of her in the news, was typically met with a roll of my eyes and an exhasperated shake of my head. I was more concerned with how she portrays women in politics than anything. Her delusions of grandeur, I concluded to myself, were the product of being the inhabitant of an extraordinarily small pond. She simply didn't know any better, than to make absurd statements, and do absurd things, like spend $150,000 on herself and her family in high end department stores. And the fact that Right Wing Conservatives still flocked to her Political Action Committee (PAC), just reinforced my opinion of her ineptness.
But then she got my attention in a press release cited by politico.com, dated on the 4th of July no less, warning news outlets not to print speculations about possible Federal investigations into some of her dealings in Alaska. Yes that's right America, lets celebrate the birth of the Country and all of it's values such as Free Speech and Freedom of the Press, with a news release that says, don't say bad things about Sarah Palin.
The last paragraph of the letter reads,
"To the extent several websites, most notably liberal Alaska blogger Shannyn Moore, are now claiming as “fact” that Governor Palin resigned because she is “under federal investigation” for embezzlement or other criminal wrongdoing, we will be exploring legal options this week to address such defamation. This is to provide notice to Ms. Moore, and those who re-publish the defamation, such as Huffington Post, MSNBC, the New York Times and The Washington Post, that the Palins will not allow them to propagate defamatory material without answering to this in a court of law. The Alaska Constitution protects the right of free speech, while simultaneously holding those “responsible for the abuse of that right.” Alaska Constitution Art. I, Sec. 5. http://ltgov.state.ak.us/constitution.php?section=1. These falsehoods abuse the right to free speech; continuing to publish these falsehoods of criminal activity is reckless, done without any regard for the truth, and is actionable. "
So here's why I can't just shake my head at this one. First, not all bloggers are journalists. And even if bloggers are journalists, it's a blog, not an edited publication, thus, opinions are allowed. If a blogger wants to write the sky is orange, they have the right to do so, because that is an opinion. Second, bloggers' opinions and observations are sometimes used as a barometer or jumping off point for journalistic organizations. Recognizing the value in what bloggers have to say is part of the new media landscape. Does it mean that news organization should use blogs as a single source for a story? Of course not, but bloggers do have a knack for bringing things to the forfront. As a blogger, I commit myself to keeping it real, read: tell the truth, but also assume that those who read my words recognize that these are opinions. A news organization that repeats such an opinion is simply citing a source. It doesn't mean that the opinion is valid, it is a method of considering that opinion for further investigation. Third, it is the job of journalists and citizens alike to present arguments and ask very tough questions and discourse amongst themselves in considering these questions, opinions, rumors and whatnot, allowing the reader to determine the value of such things. Threatening action against those who do so, is to me, quintessentially unamerican.
So here's my opinion. I think Sarah Palin needs to realize that she stepped into a much larger pond full of people that do know better. And as for Shannyn Moore, let me know if you need to start a legal fund. I'm more than willing to donate merely out of principle.