In 2006 Diane Benson stood and delivered a challenge to entrenched corporate favorite, incumbent congressman Don Young. Benson did this, by the way, when other perceived ‘stronger’ Democratic candidates ran for cover and refused to challenge Young. Benson was excluded from the podium despite the fact that Young, a member of the congressional delegation, was allowed to campaign wearing the thin disguise of ‘reporting’ to the convention. The excuse at the time from President Julie Kitka and her convention manager, Mike Irwin, was that AFN did not endorse, or do ‘politics’. A challenge was elicited from the floor and a group of Benson supporters won her 5 minutes in front of the convention to say her piece. And, in one of the most brilliant and audacious maneuvers I have ever witnessed in Alaska politics, Benson was ushered to the stage surrounded by a squad of Native Alaskan veterans. In traditional Tlingit fashion, Benson delivered a story that lasted far longer than five minutes, as the veterans kept a jittery Mike Irwin at bay. At the end, she received a standing ovation and on Election Day, she carried a large portion of Village Alaska.Shortly after the 2010 election, on November 15, 2010, The Mudflats carried a strange post that mentioned Benson's role, playing a judge, in a B-grade film produced by Alaska conservative political gadfly, Dave Cuddy:
And I would be remiss if I did not mention that former Democratic Lt. Governor candidate Diane Benson plays the federal judge. Sigh…No mention of Diane Benson's pivotal role in the development of equal pay for Alaska Natives on the set here.
No mention - EVER - at The Mudflats, of Benson's key role in the inspiration for, making and marketing of what many regard to be the best civil rights film in Alaska history.
No mention - EVER - of Benson's extremely courageous role over decades, in getting help to victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence.
At the time, I commented about the lack of context the article had seemed to be giving Benson:
From your description, Christmas With a Capital “C” sounds like it will disappoint. Par for Cuddy’s course.Jeanne Devon responded:
I’m curious as to why you wrote “And I would be remiss if I did not mention that former Democratic Lt. Governor candidate Diane Benson plays the federal judge. Sigh…”
Have you seen the part of the movie played by the judge? Have you spoken with Ms Benson about her role in this movie?
What do you know about Ms Benson’s role in the history of filmmaking and dramatic art in Alaska?
Do you remember her actions during Steven Seagal’s filming of “On Deadly Ground” that led to far higher pay for the Alaska Natives hired to perform?
Do you remember her play criticizing the leadership of Alaska Native Corporations that was then banned by the people who commissioned it?
Did you write at this blog about Ms Benson’s role in the film “For the Rights of All – Ending Jim Crow in Alaska”?
What significant post have you put up at this place about Benson’s role in Alaska civil rights and women’s rights? There may have been one, but I seem to have missed it.
Is my snark meter unplugged, or was your comment about Diane a diss of some vague and unqualified sort?
Phil – No. No. No. No. No. Yes.
And your snark meter blew a gasket. I’m not writing a post about Ms. Benson’s career or Native rights. I simply sighed because someone that I like is involved in the project called Christmas with a Capital C. You may feel free to write whatever you like on your blog. I would hope that if Ms. Benson found my sigh to be offensive, she would contact me herself. Take a deep breath and Happy Holidays. AKMLooking back, it is more than faintly ironic that, at least according to Frank Bailey, Devon was under contract to Bailey at the time she wrote the above and criticized Benson, to, as Geoffrey Dunn so eloquently has put it, help write a book that amounted to a whitewash of Troopergate, and Bailey's role in it:
[S]ignificantly, there are some serious missing pieces in Bailey's book that he either never addresses or sweeps under the rug-omissions that raise serious questions about the various government investigations into Troopergate and strongly suggest these investigations be reopened.So, why am I bringing this up now? Because Jeanne Devon has written about Diane Benson again. Finally. Two Alaska political ads from the past few years have been named to a list of the truly worst. One of them is a Benson ad, where she cares for her sled dogs.
I only discovered that The Mudflats was carrying the article when one of its tags showed up in a google alert for Diane Benson. The tag Devon created is called:
This would be less disconcerting if The Mudflats had had more honest, in-depth coverage of Diane Benson over the three-plus years the blog has existed. Linda Kellen Biegel, who writes there, is a close friend to Diane. But, beyond that, if anything, I've felt at best, a mild disdain for Benson at the popular blog.
Maybe The Mudflats could create the following Diane Benson tags:
• Diane Benson Elizabeth Peratrovich• Diane Benson womens rights• Diane Benson Native Rights• Diane Benson Alaska Natives in local film industry• Diane Benson wounded warriors
• Diane Benson helps victims of sexual assault
I doubt it. I think Jeanne will let this stinking mess lie where she put it.