While the elitist #dickwhisperers at the Washington Post dream up ways of monetizing their "access," let's take a trip down memory lane to shortly 4AM Eastern time on September 1, 2008, less than 72 hours after John McCain announced Sarah Palin would be his VP.
At a quarter-past the hour, Daily Kos diarist Liz Arnett posted a diary featuring several videos tying Sarah Palin to the Alaskan Independence Party, a pro-secession fringe group in Alaska. The diary rocketed up the rec. list and a few hours later, georgia10 followed up with a front page post summarizing the questions raised by Palin's apparent connections.
Later that day, the story was picked up by reporters at ABC, The Atlantic, and TPM. They fleshed out some of the important details: it was Todd, not Sarah, who was actually a member of the party, they found, but Sarah had addressed the AIP and members of the AIP felt Sarah was sympathetic to their pro-secession cause.
Flash-forward six weeks, and Salon published a detailed article by Max Blumenthal and David Neiwert showing the tight connections between the Palins and the secessionists, attracting CNN's interest.
That brings us to today. In a gripping new article, CBS News' Scott Conroy and special contributor Shushannah Walshe explain what happened next:
On the morning of Oct. 15, Palin was aboard her campaign jet and en route to New Hampshire when she happened to catch a disparaging CNN segment that touted the Salon.com story, complete with a provocative graphic at the bottom of the screen reading, "THE PALINS AND THE FRINGE."
While shaking hands after a rally later that afternoon, someone on the rope line shouted a remark at Palin about the AIP.
The comment set her off. She worried that the campaign was not sufficiently mitigating the issue of her alleged connection to the party, which despite a platform that harkens more to the Civil War than the 21st century, continued to play a serious role in Alaska politics.
Palin blasted out an e-mail with the subject line "Todd" to Schmidt, campaign manager Rick Davis and senior advisor Nicolle Wallace, copying her husband on the message (all of the e-mails are reprinted below as written).
"Pls get in front of that ridiculous issue that's cropped up all day today - two reporters, a protestor's sign, and many shout-outs all claiming Todd's involvement in an anti-American political party," Palin wrote. "It's bull, and I don't want to have to keep reacting to it ... Pls have statement given on this so it's put to bed."
According to e-mails obtained by Conroy and Walshe, McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt told Palin to "ignore" the controversy and simply state that Todd loved America. Schmidt (smartly) wanted to limit the amount of specific information given to the media because any hint of inaccuracy would have set off another media bonfire.
In his e-mail, Schmidt said that it was his understanding that secession was part of AIP's platform, infuriating Palin. She responded to him, cc'ing several more staffers, prodding him to defend her.
"That's not part of their platform and he was only a 'member' bc independent alaskans too often check that 'Alaska Independent' box on voter registrations thinking it just means non partisan," Palin wrote. "He caught his error when changing our address and checked the right box. I still want it fixed."
The problem for Palin was that her claims were inaccurate -- the registration form says "Alaskan Independence Party," and scads of evidence showed that both she and Todd Palin were aware of the true nature of the party, having attended several AIP functions.
Schmidt put the matter to rest with an breathtaking reply to Palin:
"Secession," he wrote. "It is their entire reason for existence. A cursory examination of the website shows that the party exists for the purpose of seceding from the union. That is the stated goal on the front page of the web site. Our records indicate that todd was a member for seven years. If this is incorrect then we need to understand the discrepancy. The statement you are suggesting be released would be innaccurate. The innaccuracy would bring greater media attention to this matter and be a distraction. According to your staff there have been no media inquiries into this and you received no questions about it during your interviews. If you are asked about it you should smile and say many alaskans who love their country join the party because it speeks to a tradition of political independence. Todd loves his country
We will not put out a statement and inflame this and create a situation where john has to adress this."
Perhaps the most amazing thing about this e-mail is that Steve Schmidt seems to have agreed with not only with the basic facts of the Palin-AIP association (that she and Todd were affiliated with a pro-secession party), but also that she sought to mislead the media.
To Sarah Palin's critics, it's been obvious from the start that she has a terrible relationship with the truth. It's a nice validation to see John McCain's campaign manager saying essentially the same thing.
More importantly, it's validation of the blogosphere. Without question, there's still good reporting going on in mainstream outlets -- but it's also equally without question true that there's good reporting going on outside the gates as well.
And it is breaking through.
Update -- 11:21AM: Comment from citizenx:
According to your staff there have been no media inquiries into this and you received no questions about it during your interviews.
Our media at work!