The ADN came as close as they have on this, by publishing a fairly solid article by Erika Bolstad and Sean Cockerham back on November 17th, about the initial reception to the largely ghost-written book's release. Maybe their timidity on this subject is best portrayed by the blog entry made ten days earlier in November, by Pat Dougherty, the ADN's managing editor. In response to the question, "What happened to the comments section under the story about Sarah Palin's book tour?" Dougherty wrote:
I made the decision to turn off comments on this story. We offer comments on stories in the hope of some reasonable discussion of the topic being covered, or the handling of the story by the newspaper. Unfortunately, comments on stories about our former governor invariably seem to devolve into little more than food fights between people who like her and those who don't.
In addition, these stories, for whatever reason, particularly seem to attract individuals who are unable or unwilling to adhere to our commenting guidelines, and that consumes my time or that of other staff here that could be better used for other work.
Because the Daily News does not care to play host to food fights, I have closed one venue where they predictably occur. In the future, on the more substantive stories about Ms. Palin, we will allow comments as long as they amount to more than petty bickering among partisans. If they don't rise above that, we will shut them off.
So maybe the ADN hasn't reviewed this important book by the most famous person in Alaska history, a person to whom the ADN has erected a seemingly permanent "shrine," because Dougherty finds "food fights" distasteful?
The ADN has hosted writings on Palin's role in Alaska politics his past year that show prescience. The former ADN editor who has done this quite well is Michael Carey, who was, during the period between the national discovery of Palin and her self-inflicted demise, the "go-to guy" in the national mainstream press for commentary on what all this meant.
As good as Carey's columns about Palin have been, none stared Palin straight in the face. Carey came close in a column written a week after Palin's abdication. Even then, though, he carefully qualified what many of us see as glaringly obvious:
Sarah Palin is probably the most divisive figure in America.
Why that is has not been the subject of any efforts by the ADN under the daily editorial feature titled Our View. Alaska's progressive bloggers and dozens of Outside journalists, authors and bloggers have tied the package together as it truly is, many times, many ways. Essentially, Palin is so divisive because she brings out in her supporters emotions, opinions and actions that are often really ugly. Carey, in the op-ed cited above, sort of tiptoed around this by typifying some of the hate mail he had received after an appearance on FOX News.
But the most egregious aspect of our written journal of record in Alaska not reviewing Going Rogue is the fact that the book probably contains more provable falsehoods per page than any ever penned by an Alaskan. By a Lake Lucille mile and then some. No entity is better situated to bring that aspect of the book forward the public than is the ADN. By not doing this, they are enabling people Outside who believe the bullshit, vindictiveness, backstabbing and full frontal lying created by Palin's false impressions.
More courageous than the ADN editors in this realm is author Jonathan Raban, whose book, Passage to Juneau, is one of my personal favorites. Raban has reviewed Going Rogue and Sarah from Alaska: The Sudden Rise and Brutal Education of a New Conservative by Scott Conroy and Shushannah Walshe, in an article in the January 14th issue of the prestigious New York Review of Books.
Raban's review observes that Palin's portrayal of Alaska is purposefully misleading:
Alaska, the particular reality from which Palin hails, is so little known by most Americans that she was able to freely mythicize her state as the utopian last refuge of the "hard work ethic," "unpretentious living," and proud self-sufficiency. Her anti-tax rhetoric (private citizens spend their money more wisely than government does) and disdain for "federal dollars" were unembarrassed by the fact that Alaska tops the tables of both per capita federal expenditure, on which one in three jobs in the state depends, and congressional earmarks, or "pork." So, too, she mythicized the straggling eyesore of Wasilla (described by a current councilwoman there as "like a big ugly strip mall from one end to the other") as the bucolic small town of sentimental American memory. Listening to Palin talk about it, one was invited to inspect not the string of oceanic parking lots attached to Fred Meyer, Lowe's, Target, Wal-Mart, and Home Depot, or the town's reputation among state troopers as the crystal meth capital of Alaska, but, rather, the imaginary barber shop, drugstore soda fountain, antique church, and raised boardwalks, seen in the rosy light of an Indian summer evening.
To audiences struggling to keep their heads above water through a deepening recession, her Alaska de l'esprit, this land of boundless natural resources and minimal government and taxation, "microcosm of America" as she liked to say, sounded a fine place to which to escape from the exigencies of living in the real United States in 2008.
Raban goes on to observe many things the ADN has missed about Palin over the years. Here's just one example:
With the backing of her church, the Wasilla Assembly of God, and the hunting interest, she campaigned on the nonmayoral issues of abortion and gun-ownership. It was put about that the Steins were living in sin: they produced their marriage certificate. It was also put about that Stein, a lapsed Lutheran, was Jewish. In 2008, he told William Yardley of The New York Times:
Sarah comes in with all this ideological stuff, and I was like, "Whoa." But that got her elected: abortion, gun rights, term limits and the religious born-again thing. I'm not a churchgoing guy, and that was another issue: "We will have our first Christian mayor." I thought, Holy cow, what's happening here?
In Going Rogue, Stein is described as "relatively new to the community." "He wasn't a born-here, raised-here, gonna-be-buried-here type of hometown guy." Those darned wandering Jews.
Raban does describe instances of Alaskans getting the word out, though:
Fact-checkers from the Associated Press and several tireless bloggers have uncovered scores of inaccuracies and "lies" in Going Rogue. It's fair to doubt that any line of direct speech in the book was ever uttered by the person to whom it is attributed, and to assume that every factual detail has probably been either invented or twisted out of shape in order to cast Palin in the best possible light.
Raban concisely describes the Reudrich affair far more honestly than I remember reading in the ADN:
Hearing rumors that Ruedrich was leaking confidential state information to a natural gas company, she and a technician hacked into Ruedrich's e-mail account one evening and found evidence that he was conducting Republican Party business from his public office—an offense with which Palin was familiar, since she'd sent out flyers promoting herself from the mayor's office in Wasilla when she was running for lieutenant governor in 2002.
Raban further describes how the Alaska press actually helped Palin's rise at that important juncture, rather than doing some serious reporting that might have comprehensively questioned Palin's qualifications to have been the chair of the commission she so precipitously quit.
Raban's review of these two books is excellent. The most comprehensive review of the book so far, though, is that done by the person who was "outed" last spring by a former ADN writer, Mike Doogan, and a present one, Sheila Toomey. Two people who cooperated keeping Toomey's anonymity at the ADN for over a decade. Jeanne Devon's page-by-page review of Going Rogue is a tour de force, and though it concentrates on the errors of commission in the book, more than the numerous errors of omission, it is quite definitive.
I haven't read the book, nor will I. Just looking at AK Muckraker's image (at the top of this post) of page 62, I can spot too many lies and exaggerations to make me want to go on.
Bottom Line: The ADN's failure to comprehensively review Going Rogue is a major lapse in what should be regarded as a basic responsibility of our state's journal of record.
II. Why did Palin resign when she did?
We're still waiting on the State of Alaska's ruling on whether or not Palin's legal defense fund as constituted violated the state executive ethics statute, or whether her book contract's obligations were similarly out-of-bounds for day-to-day activities of an Alaska governor. But it is increasingly obvious to me that her decision to, as her older son so tersely put it, "take a dishonorable discharge," was just that - dishonorable. I'm not complaining that she left. I am going to speculate a little, though:
Had it not been for the efforts of people like Linda Kellen Beigel, Andree McLeod and Frank Gwartney, she would have hung on until about three weeks before the book tour started, perhaps longer. Seeing as Parnell is more honest, less flip and more knowledgeable about state government than was or is Palin, you might think about thanking Linda, Andree or Frank next time you have an opportunity.