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It’s an ongoing feeding frenzy for media outlets in Juneau, Alaska, where officials on Friday released 24,199 pages of emails that Sarah Palin sent and received while governor and reporters rushed to be the first to broadcast some of them and post them online.
Some media, including The New York Times, MSNBC and the UK’s Guardian, took the unusual step of asking readers to help pour through the more than 100 pounds of printed emails in order to spot the more interesting ones.”
“Help us review the Sarah Palin E-mail records,” says a message at NYTimes.com. “Interested users can fill out a simple form to describe the nature of the e-mail, and provide a name and e-mail address so we’ll know who should get the credit.”
“Given the size of the cache, we reckon the collective eyes of thousands of you will find the juicy bits more quickly,” says a message at the Guardian’s website, “so we’ll be publishing the raw mails on our website as quickly as we can and asking you to tell us which ones are interesting and why.”
“In a hotel room in Juneau, the Guardian’s Simon Jeffery is shoving the pages of emails into a high-tech scanner capable of getting through 25 sheets a minutes (sic),” says one Guardian blog post. “Remembering that there’s 24,000 pages, that should take a mere 16 hours to get the entire cache online. Fingers crossed.”
The Guardian asks readers to rate each email on a scale from “Not very interesting” to “Palingate!”
One of the earlier posts at the MSNBC blog read: “If you were in Juneau you’d see reporters spilling boxes as they try to push handtrucks downhill. Not much handtruck experience among the press corps, apparently. The scanning and reading have begun.”
Some accounts have reporters literally running while carrying heavy boxes in order to be the first to make some emails public.
“By my calculation the Guardian was the first to get Palin emails online,” crows a blogger at the Guardian, “but the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times were a close second and third.”
The emails are from January 2007 to September 2008, though officials haven’t yet released emails from the last 10 months of her governorship, as the process of redacting certain items is a lenghty one. The email dump stems from requests made nearly three years ago, shortly after she was chosen as the Republican nominee for vice president.
MSNBC, in conjunction with other publications, has created a searchable data base for the emails.
In this first batch, 2,275 pages have been redacted. MSNBC is curious why one message about “children, dinner, and prayer” is on the list, though largely redactions concern personnel matters.
So far, the emails are benign, but the press is treating them like big news nevertheless. ABCNews.com gets credit for identifying the most noteworthy ones, according to bloggers.
At 2:26 p.m. ET, the ABC blog posts this bombshell: “Sarah Palin had her eye on vice presidential slot months before receiving nomination.” The rest of the blog post consists of emails Palin received from fans saying they’d support her for vp, emails that Palin then forwarded to staffers.
MSNBC boasted on its blog that “volunteers from the League of Women Voters and the Retired Public Employees of Alaska have joined us at the city’s Centennial Hall convention center to help look at the records.”
A blog post at the Guardian illustrates, inadvertently, how non-controversial the emails have been thus far, considering the ones that they chose to highlight as newsworthy.
One, for example, merely consists of an invitation to meet President George W. Bush when he was in Fairbanks, Alaska in 2008. Another is an email from a landlord of one of Palin’s employees indicating how excited the landlord was that the employee had listed the governor as a reference.
Another email highlighted has Palin complaining that a radio host disparaged one of her appearances.
“He slammed RTL, the dinner and especially my ‘horrible’ speech. Yuck,” reads the email.
The Guardian bloggers present that email with the commentary: “Here’s an email where Palin shows that her thin skin to media criticism goes way back.”
Naturally, all this attention the mainstream media is paying to pretty dull emails is fodder for the conservative media.
Sean Hannity, on his radio show Friday, for example, spent several minutes noting that reporters seem obsessed with every word Palin has ever written, even though she’s a private citizen not running for office. But there’s no curiosity, he said, over whether email exchanges between President Barack Obama exist with controversial figures like Bill Ayres and Pastor Jeremiah Wright.
Other conservatives are noting that the media did all they could to ignore the tweets and Facebook “sexts” of Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner, or the emails that exposed shenanigans at the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit.
Meanwhile, the press was searching for Palin so she could comment on all of this, but no luck. On Sunday on the Fox News Channel, where she’s a commentator, she said she wasn’t concerned about the release of emails because the press has already dissected her life.
She added, though, “a lot of those emails obviously weren’t meant for public consumption.
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