A Reluctant Rebuttal to Sullivan
posted at 12:09 am on July 2, 2010 by Slublog
In the fall of 2001, I was in graduate school. In early September, on a cloudless fall day, I went to my windowless office and logged on to my computer to check the headlines. It was just after 9 a.m., and most of the news sites were inaccessible. When I went downstairs a few minutes later and entered a room with a television, I learned why.
In the days following the attacks, I was angry and bewildered. I scoured the web for hours, reading as much news and opinion as I could. One column and one blog stood out to me – Dave Barry’s column and Andrew Sullivan’s blog. Barry’s post-September 11 column is an amazing piece of writing. And Sullivan, writing in a new format called “blogging,” was articulate and unapologetic in his defense of western values as compared to those of the jihadists. I was intrigued by Sullivan’s writing and purchased his book “Virtually Normal,” which is a fascinating and beautifully written examination of societal views on homosexuality and gay marriage.
Sullivan’s blog made me realize the possibilities of the internet and I eventually started my own blog. Basically, he is the reason I entered the blogosphere. I have contributed to his fundraisers and communicated with him via email in the past. I never imagined that one day, he would defend himself against something I had written.
Now to the emails Breitbart claims I referred to – as evidence of my “hypocrisy.” Hot Air’s “Slublog” provided chapter and verse here, here, here and here…So these emails were directly connected to abuse of power by a governor who is currently the GOP leader. They were part of an ethics investigation – and were already in the public domain. And Palin deliberately used a private email account to keep her use of public office to pursue family vendettas out of the public sphere. It seems to me that commenting on emails that have become part of an ethics investigation of a governor is not the same as offering $100,000 to get some embarrassing off-the-record kibbitzing from a blogger on a list-serv.
Sullivan seems to have a strange definition of “public domain.” Nothing in the story he quotes suggests the emails were made public by the Alaskan ethics commission. As the Washington Post makes clear, the emails were given to the reporter by Walter Monegan, a man who was fired by Sarah Palin. In fact, Sullivan admits as much in this post, where he describes the emails as “leaked,” which seems a far cry from released. The second “gotcha” is the result of an FOIA request, as he says. The third seems to have been released by an Anchorage Daily News editor and again, does not seem to be the result of a public inquiry or FOIA request. The fourth, as Karl points out, was highlighted by Sullivan on June 30. In his rebuttal to my post, Sullivan says his use of that email was fair because it was quoted in her memoir. Sullivan quoted the email in June. “Going Rogue” was released in November.
Sullivan next takes issue with my criticism over his obsession with Trig Palin.
Palin held her new-born infant up at the RNC Convention like some scene from the Lion King; she told the crazy story of her wild ride to the Anchorage Daily News long before she was picked by a Google search to be the back up for the leader of the free world. She has written a book full of extremely private details – the nature of her contractions, for example – and made a fortune off it. She is the one who first mentioned “amniotic fluid leaking” and “water-breaking”, not me. She has made speech after speech citing her infant son – just as her teenage daughter has been pushed into every public arena imaginable. There is nothing private about Palin’s story about her child with Down Syndrome. Nothing. To examine the details of a story already told in such detail in the public sphere as a core campaign platform is violating no one’s privacy.
I’m not sure how a mother talking about her child gives a blogger permission to call her a liar and obsess over whether she’s the real mom, but Sullivan seems to think differently. Sullivan again uses the fact that Palin wrote about Trig in her memoir as an excuse to delve into her personal life, conveniently ignoring that most of the Trig-centric posts I linked were written before “Going Rogue” was released.
Sullivan’s rationale for printing Palin’s email seems to be that leaking private emails is okay if the government does it, but if a private citizen such as Andrew Breitbart is involved, there is an absolute right to privacy. His defensiveness in this post leads to an obvious question: was Andrew Sullivan a contributor to Journolist? Does he have a personal stake in keeping that archive private?
If so, why?