Green Room

A Reluctant Rebuttal to Sullivan

posted at 12:09 am on July 2, 2010 by

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?

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shakes magic 8 ball

SIGNS POINT TO ‘YES’

Unfortunately, the 8 ball can only answer yes/no questions. When it comes to the whys and wherefores, your guess is as good as mine.

gryphon202 on July 2, 2010 at 12:35 AM

Who’s this Sullivan guy that Slublog keeps talking about?

cthulhu on July 2, 2010 at 12:53 AM

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?

I’m not a big fan of the “if you’ve got nothing to hide” argument, but I agree with the suggestion that there’s probably a boatload of terrible stuff (professionally, maybe personally) in those archives for a lot of prominent reporters/commentators, Sullivan included. It’s the collusion aspect of JournoList that makes it so worthy of the Breitbart Bounty… an insight into how the MSM operates behind the scenes. That the listservers were crazy enough to literally document the collusion without considering the epic risks involved — or at least not adequately appreciating them, given where we now are — is simply mindblowing.

Who’s this Sullivan guy that Slublog keeps talking about?

cthulhu on July 2, 2010 at 12:53 AM

Long, long story. Or if you’re kidding, then… yeah, that’s about where I’m at with Sullivan’s stuff anymore.

Patrick Ishmael on July 2, 2010 at 2:58 AM

The truth is out there! And so’s the archive. Looking forward to the ClimateGating of these schemers.

Feedie on July 2, 2010 at 4:52 AM

As the Washington Post makes clear, the emails were given to the reporter by Walter Monegan, a man who was fired by Sarah Palin.

Great post, but you got a fact wrong, which many people get wrong, because it was reported wrong endlessly in 2008.

Palin did not “fire” Monegan. She tranferred him from Public Safety Commissioner, to another position in State government dealing with Alcohol regulation and abuse prevention.

The next day he turned in his resignation, and soon after was publicly quoted as saying that neither Palin or her husband Todd tried to pressure him into firing the State Trooper, Wooten.
Then the AK Democrats and the Union got a hold of him, and his story suddenly changed into what became “Troopergate”, or what I prefer to call “Tasergate”.

This is a minor thing, but it irritates me that this sequence of facts has been so thoroughly misrepresented by the LSM that it still hangs out there even in friendly quarters.

Also, Sullivan is bat guano crazy over Palin, and it is downright sick at this point.
Good on you for pushing back, Slu.

Brian1972 on July 2, 2010 at 8:54 AM

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?

Because it will show he was never what he claimed to be when he got started, a gay man who supported GWB. He was just another blogger with no notoriety without that mantle.
Yet with it he was a star. It was all a contrivance.

Beto Ochoa on July 2, 2010 at 8:59 AM

The nut loves the attention. I try never to give nuts what they want if I can help it.

I’m glad I never took this man seriously.

TheBigOldDog on July 2, 2010 at 9:10 AM

I think Sullivan’s main argument is that Palin is fair game as a potential President, whereas the Journolist guys are ultimately private citizens.

I would argue that the reporters are also in the political arena so anything involving potential improprieties is absolutely newsworthy.

Mister Mets on July 2, 2010 at 9:11 AM

I would argue that the reporters are also in the political arena…

If by “in the political arena” you mean they protect the interests of Democrats, while piously puffing up their chests about being the sacred guardians of the American public, yeah, they are… in addition to being lying filth.

drunyan8315 on July 2, 2010 at 9:28 AM

Having read A Beautiful Mind I can understand that someone can be mentally ill and yet still function, to an extent, in society.

Sullivan’s writings have devolved into an incoherent mess, indicative of poor mental health. Very sad. And I do not say this in a snarky way, if someone supported W.’s decision to go to war against Saddam, but then later changed his mind, that is fine. But the creepy fixation on Trig’s maternal parentage (and what does that say about his paternal parentage) is evidence of a diseased mind.

rbj on July 2, 2010 at 9:37 AM

Do not search for rational thought in the Sullivan brain, particularly when it comes to things Palin. There be dragons.

As for the idea that journalists/JournoListers are private citizens – the evidence from what we’ve seen is, and Breitbart’s effort is to prove, that these individuals have been colluding to shape public opinion on issues in a manner favorable to the Obama administration and Democrats generally.

As with the evidence from the Climategate release that climate ‘scientists’ were happily willing to throw off the restraints of ethics and scientific method to get the ‘right’ political story in IPCC AR4, once you’ve stepped into the public-policy arena you’re fair game.

JEM on July 2, 2010 at 9:43 AM

I used to be a fan of Andrew Sullivan. His writings were insightful and fun to read. I don’t know why he decided to force feed his readers almost exclusively on homosexuality.
He penned an article around this time of year in 2002 called
“What I believe”. I’d like that Andrew Sullivan to please stand up.

psychocyber on July 2, 2010 at 9:54 AM

Is Weird Andy worried that JournoList emails will show up as Plaintiff’s exhibits in Palin v. Sullivan?

Just a hunch, but remember, JournoList was ostensibly to match expert sources with reporters. What if there is an OB/GYN on there telling Sully he’s dead wrong about his theory on the circumstances surrounding Trig Palin’s birth. Knowledge that the story was pushing was false, plus malice (also possibly provable through JournoList emails) equals big troubles for Sullivan. Good bye Sully, good bye Atlantic…

Nat Hound on July 2, 2010 at 10:03 AM

Well said Slublog. I too was a fan of Sullivan’s writings and supported his blog for years. I do not care that he is against Sarah Palin, he is entitled to do so. I know many conservatives who are against her for a variety of reasons.

But his intellectual dishonesty and partisanship has become quite apparent. His standards completely change depending on the subject.

Yesterday, as an example, he had a post from a reader saying, if tax cuts are so good why didn’t Bush’s tax cuts work? The old Sullivan would never have supported such a trope. In fact, Sullivan criticized Bush (rightly so) for entitlement expansion and spending. So when Obama goes where no Bush has gone before and increases spending on entitlements and increases taxes in a depression/recession–Sullivan goes quiet.

Mr. Joe on July 2, 2010 at 10:05 AM

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.

This is just bat**** crazy. How do you even respond rationally to such irrationality?

rockmom on July 2, 2010 at 10:16 AM

I remember how Sully hated Mel Gibson. Well he was right about Gibson (at least in part). Mel is a talented actor and director, but also a bit bat [guano] crazy. I doubt Mel Gibson is some evil misogynist anti semite, his deamons are a little more complex than that, but he can sure sound like one.

Well, Sullivan is becoming his own Mel Gibson. The obsession with Palin and Trig. Heck, recently he had a link to an interview with Levi Johnson’s family where after slaming Sarah Palin they ended the interview with confirming Trig is not Levi Johnson’s kid. Sullivan ignores that.

Mr. Joe on July 2, 2010 at 10:26 AM

Going Rouge” was released in Novembe

Humorous typo alert.

TexasDan on July 2, 2010 at 10:49 AM

TexasDan on July 2, 2010 at 10:49 AM

Heh. Fixed. Clearly, my fingers acted stupidly.

Slublog on July 2, 2010 at 10:59 AM

I can’t figure out why anyone listens to this guy. At first he was sort of a conservative dissenter. Nothing particularly wrong with that. But now it has diminished to the point where he speaks about conservatives the way a jilted ex-wife talks about her ex-husband’s new wife. I get it, Andrew, Sarah Palin is a no-good, terrible, horrible, very bad person, and she is not nearly as smart, charming or good looking as you, now get on with your life and let it go.

Squid Vicious on July 2, 2010 at 11:29 AM

I love how Sullivan claims that by virtue of Palin talking about her kids and having her kids at various events, they are fully fair game. EVERY politician in America uses their kids in this way. It is – for honorable people – an unwritten rule that we don’t go after the kids of politicians. By Sullivan’s logic, it is perfectly acceptable for anyone to investigate, etc., Obama’s kids. Were they not at campaign events? Did the Obama’s not talk about their children?

Sullivan is pathetic and disgusting. He has no logic or analysis to offer. Why any of you bloggers continue to treat with him as if he is important or even rational is beyond me.

Monkeytoe on July 2, 2010 at 11:52 AM

Once again Breitbart shows his brilliance. Either somebody takes the 100K and the dirt is available for all to see, or nobody does and the implication is that the stuff was so bad that it just couldn’t be exposed to the light of day.

As for Sullivan, I take the un-PC view that HIV is affecting his brain. Sullivan was an intelligent writer but in the last three years his opinions have become nothing short of psychotic.

Tyrone Slothrop on July 2, 2010 at 12:02 PM

As for Sullivan, I take the un-PC view that HIV is affecting his brain. Sullivan was an intelligent writer but in the last three years his opinions have become nothing short of psychotic.

Tyrone Slothrop on July 2, 2010 at 12:02 PM

I thought so too, but he can still write lucidly on other topics. I think he has just become a militant homosexual and sees most everything now through that prism. He has a lover that he wants to marry but won’t until same-sex marriage is the law of the land, and he feels no constraint in attacking anyone who opposes same-sex marriage or supports other conservative social views. He sincerely thought he had found a silver bullet to kill Sarah Palin with the supposed cover-up of Trig’s birth, based only on an old family picture that some crazy Lefties said showed Bristol hiding a pregnancy, plus a total lack of understanding about the female reproductive cycle. Once he started down that road, he pretty much had to go all-in no matter where the facts went.

A rational person would have backed off on this witch-hunt when the facts – and most of his audience – turned against him, but when it comes to Palin he is not rational.

As for his defense of the JournoList, I think most of the people on that list are very afraid that release of its archives will be embarrassing to all of them. Far from a high-minded intellectual listserv that sought to connect policy wonks with journalists for in-depth analysis of important issues, what will be revealed is instead a liberal echo chamber that got most of its talking points directly from David Axelrod and engaged mostly in hackery.

rockmom on July 2, 2010 at 12:27 PM

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.

It seems to me that if the Journolist archives are made public it will demonstrate a lot more than off-the-record kibbitzing, and embarrassment won’t be the reaction.

It’s becoming more clear by the day that the pathological liars on the left are incapable of embarassment.

The collusion of a bunch of semi hysterical, pseudo-intellectual sissy boys, to smear an All American mother and Governor, while elevating an unAmerican marxist of dubious origins, and meager accomplishments to near god like status is criminal.

If it ever becomes clear to the public exactly what the MFM have been up to with their off the record organizing, they may have to go into hiding, with Sully headed for the booby hatch.

ontherocks on July 2, 2010 at 12:28 PM

Ask Kaus if Sullivan was a member of Journolist. Frankly, I want to read the entire archive of Journolist.

Blake on July 2, 2010 at 1:16 PM

He has a lover that he wants to marry but won’t until same-sex marriage is the law of the land, and he feels no constraint in attacking anyone who opposes same-sex marriage or supports other conservative social views.

Isn’t the boyfriend a doctor? That’s what I think I remember from back when I read him. I think he decided that social cons opposed to gay marriage – though they aren’t the only ones – were the problem with the Republican Party & conservatives, and like a jilted lover decided everything about that philosophy was corrupted, and decided to do everything in his power to undermine it.

He was one of the best writers about conservatism, Reagan & Thatcher, and even religion and being a sinner & still feeling grace, for a very long time. I’m another that read him daily, contributed and occasionally traded emails with him.

The Palin stuff though is even worse than the anti-conservative stuff. It’s just insane, and I don’t mean that in a hyperbolic manner. It really is crazy talk. Unless he’s just a fantastic driver of traffic, I don’t get why the ‘Atlantic’ doesn’t sit him down and just tell him to quit writing about her or at least her family, stick to issue disagreements when he talks about her.

lizzie beth on July 2, 2010 at 2:36 PM

Slu,

I know this was a difficult post to write, as you were at one time inspired by the man. Don’t beat yourself up (I’m not saying you are; I’m just saying don’t) — Clearly, Sullivan has issues that go beyond national politics, and he needs our prayers and best wishes. His compulsion with Palin would, I’m sure, be a trove of fodder for someone versed in psychology/psychiatry and a bent toward publishing thier analyses.

He has shown himself to be a talented writer. Let’s hope that he can find a path that will lead him to using that talent in a constructive way.

hillbillyjim on July 3, 2010 at 1:36 AM

Oh yeah. The whole Journolist thing deserves a lot more attention, but then who is going to focus that attention if most of MSM is on the inside looking out?

Freedom of the press is one thing; freedom of the press to conspire for the purpose of duping the nation on matters of national import is another animal altogether.

Bloggers, are our best hope for holding the press accountable.

hillbillyjim on July 3, 2010 at 1:49 AM

Where’d that comma ^ come from? My fingers acted stupidly as well, I suppose.

hillbillyjim on July 3, 2010 at 1:51 AM

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?

Yes and yes. The “why” is self-evident: he doesn’t want to be embarrassed by public disclosure of comments he made in a supposed confidential setting with like-minded idiots.

Now imagine this: if his public columns are so off-the-wall as to be embarrassing to the reader, what on earth might he have said privately?

disa on July 3, 2010 at 7:45 AM

Just dealing with Andrew Sullivan makes one feel dirty. Hew has morphed from an intelligent, witty, blogger into a disgusting, vile pussbag.

Hilts on July 3, 2010 at 9:51 AM

My tow must reads every morning for so many years were Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish and Charles Johnson’s Little Green Footballs. My have times changed!

Hilts on July 3, 2010 at 9:55 AM

I think I’ve had an epiphany as to why Andrew Sullivan is so obsessed with Sarah Palin and her uterus. The fact is, he doesn’t really care who Trig’s “real mom” is. Sarah Palin is a self-confident, accomplished woman, and an unapologetic conservative Christian. For these two reasons combined, he hates her and must attempt to destroy her, because she is anathema to everything he thinks he stands for.

Sorry, Andrew. I know a few gay men who enjoy Saturday afternoons crafting with accomplished Christian women. We chat like friends do, we have similar interests, and similar outlooks on the economical and political scene, and some of us understand and like Sarah Palin just for being who she is. It’s called relating to your fellow human being, overlooking differences in lifestyle, enjoying each other’s convivial company. Sorry you can’t do the same.

RebeccaH on July 3, 2010 at 6:37 PM