Sunday, March 29, 2009

Picture of Mudflats' AK Muckraker Posted!

Right-wing blogs around the country may soon be running this picture of
AK Muckraker.

Posing below AK Muckraker (upper left) are Independent Commentator Shannyn Moore,
Alaska Report Editor Dennis Zaki, and gadfly-blogger Phil Munger. Notice the snarky smile on AK Muckraker's face.

Seriously, what has happened since Alaska Legislator Rep. Mike Doogan (D-Spenard) used state and party resources on the morning of March 27th to reveal the identity of Alaska's most prestigious anonymous blogger, has been remarkable. As figures representing the expiring paradigm of elitist journalism (Amanda Coyne, Tony Hopfinger and Sheila Toomey, for example) have come forward to defend Doogan, without any reference whatsoever to possible legal questions regarding Doogan's move, commenters at their articles have been surprisingly supportive of the longstanding concept of anonymity.

On Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 7:45 p.m. I was assisting at the registration and resource tables for the Alaska Press Club annual conference, being held at the Anchorage Senior Center. The story of Doogan's e-letter seemed to grow during the day, as an emerging low-key background buzz. For good reason, Doogan is held in high regard among members of the Alaska Press Club. But I sensed growing concern among journalists I spoke with, who have covered constitutional, privacy or civil rights issues.

When I got to the annual journalists' bash at the Anchorage Press offices, I was immediately assailed by my good friend, Amanda Coyne. Right away, she was jumping me for cussing out anonymous commenters at Progressive Alaska. She was right that I have done that. And I have challenged the courage of some anonymous commenters, who made baseless assertions or accused me of having done or written something particularly egregious.

I responded to Amanda that I'm not concerned about knowing who a commenter is, but rather find it difficult dealing with a number of people who want responses from me on an issue, and are each signing on as "anonymous." I couldn't tell one anonymous from the next. All I usually wanted was for the commenter to create a nom de blog - a pseudonym.

I've used a purposeful pseudonym locally. I signed in to KUDO's old forum as "Gustav." I mostly showed up there to defend people like Richard Mauer against Jack Frost. I also am registered at the Anchorage Daily News as "niklake," which the early on-line ADN automatically took from part of my email address. When I post what some might consider a significant comment at an ADN article, I usually sign my real name at the bottom. If I'm merely making an observation, niklake will do. It's certainly easy enough to find out who "niklake" is.

I've known AK Muckraker since the August 26th Alaska primary election. AK Muckraker came up to me at the Egan Center gathering, saying warmly, "Hi. I'm "Mudflats."

In September we got to know each other much better, at dinners, rallies and other gatherings. My admiration for AKM grew, as several of the Alaskan progressive bloggers became a fairly close-knit group of friends. We shared resources quite openly, understanding the whole time the importance AKM placed on anonymity.

Did I feel a tinge of jealousy when the Mudflats became a national phenomenon? Yes, I did. But I'm quite happy with PA being what it is - a little Alaska blog, presented from my quirky set of perspectives.

Many have asked me, "Who is Mudflats?" Most were less rude than was Rep. Doogan, when I declined to provide information.

Throughout the fall presidential campaign and the current legislative session, we Alaska bloggers have witnessed the decline in jobs in regular media, and its impact on the ability of traditional outlets to track Alaska politics and other issues important to our state and its diverse regions. We've applauded efforts by regular media outlets to try to focus on growing problems with diminishing means. I've answered every one of the dozens of questions posed to me by regular Alaska reporters, working on a story. And I've been helped in my efforts to learn more about a host of issues, by several mainstream reporters.

Doogan's lashing out at AKM has been characterized by some of the thousands of commenters at the stories on his action, as a sign of his anger at new media for displacing what he cherishes. Sheila Toomey's meretricious item about this in today's Alaska Ear column is just as pathetic, if not worse. After all, Toomey did exactly as Doogan is complaining AKM shouldn't be allowed to do, for years. She made scores of thousands of dollars doing it. Right across the newsroom from her, sat Mike Doogan, who knew exactly who she was, what she was doing.

The lack of concern for the Doogan-Toomey connection in Coyne's article troubled me over the weekend. As several emails from civil rights attorneys, offering to provide pro bono help for AKM piled up in my email box over the weekend, I thought, "This story has national impact, yet all the regular and newly emerging regular media (as in Alaska Dispatch) seem to be able to see are the most superficial aspects of this."

The superficial nature of this story's coverage by some outlets is matched, of course, by its non-coverage by most other local outlets here. The most detailed, powerful or far-reaching articles, so far, have been, in my opinion, these:

Bob Poe Speaks About Mike Doogan and Mudflats
- by Bob Poe

The Right to Privacy - Bloggers and Privacy - by what do I know Steve

Blogging the Big Stuff - by what do I know Steve

My Friend Mudflats -- Not a KKK Member, Mr. Doogan
- by Shannyn Moore

Rep. Doogan's main accomplishment for this session....
- by Celtic Diva

Mudflats has compiled many of the articles about this at this link.

Doogan sprang this Friday morning. Over the weekend, the only mainstream print coverage of an important emerging civil rights and political issue in Anchorage, was by a gossip columnist. The gossip columnist, who for years was protected, in part, by the person who "outed" the influential blogger, failed to make this incredibly obvious connection in a meaningful way. That in itself is newsworthy.

It is interesting that over this weekend of a press club conference, where this story was discussed widely, that it began with the "outing" of a blogger, and ended with the election of one of that blogger's protectors - Shannyn Moore - to one of the Vice President positions of the Alaska Press Club.

No doubt, some are spewing their coffee or Irish whiskey, upon reading of Moore's new responsibility. Yet, somewhere else, someone is hoisting glass of tea, a pitcher of beer, or a container of spring water, toasting, "Here's to you, Shannyn!"

Alaska media is painfully contracting and growing simultaneously. There's pain in growth:

In AKM's new concerns about family and income; in Moore's new worries about press responsibilities in the face of hostility toward new media; and, most likely, in Doogan's several hangovers, as he begins to realize what an awful thing he just did to his legacy, merely to spite somebody who crossed him.


Anonymous said...

I had two conversations today (w/mother & husband)in which I expressed my total disgust with Toomey. She has committed an egregiously hypocritical act that is more vile than what doogan did. It didn't break any laws -- except the laws that govern common decency & respect -- but is far far worse in its hypocrisy, and that needless use of AKM's name.

She's drinking from the same poisoned well as doogan, I guess.

I canceled my ADN subscription before the election, disgusted with ADN. Today I wished that I hadn't so that I could cancel to protest Toomey's actions. Then I thought maybe I would subscribe then cancel the next day. But I guess that I should use that time & energy on something productive, like a letter to the editor of the ADN... What a filthy irrelevant newspaper ADN has become. What a waste.

And gotta love the "who's down" for Joe McGinnis. Way to shoot the messenger ADN! Solidify your spot in infamy & irrelevancy!


Anonymous said...

I'll pick up where you left off, SMR. I'm canceling my ADN subscription tomorrow, but not before I contact an editor and explain my disgust at Toomey's actions. I spoke with her LONG ago and felt she was an incredibly vile individual.

Irony is, I have for many months tried to get the ADN to do a story on the travels of Palin at 35 weeks flying from Dallas-Alaska and how their incomplete coverage created a potential public health issue if others were to follow in her steps. Palin "outed" herself by discussing her situation openly with reporters, therefore HIPAA wouldn't apply.

They avoided the story in part because of privacy issues, though they somehow believed outing a private anonymous blogger WASN'T a privacy issue. Go figure.

It's comforting to know our newspaper gets to be the one that determines what is private and what is not.


Kelly Walters said...

Great Observations as always Phil!!

Another what I could call "elitist" and possibly professionally jealous reporters was your buddy BJ! I was at the Anchorage Press Party on Friday and Brendan Joel Kelley was absolutely giddy and pounding on his chest that Mudflats ID was revealed. Later in the evening, he actually took credit as Doogan's source. I really doubt that is true. If it were, he would have not told Doogan and just outed Mudflats in the Anchorage Press this Thursday.

asiangrrlMN said...

Hi, Phil. I am a 'flatter, and I found your blog from a link sent to me by one of AKM's moderators. I commend you for writing two of the best blog entries on this whole sad situation. I will be bookmarking your site and adding it to my must-read list.

Thank you for supporting AKM and for taking on the corruption in Alaskan politics. I salute you for holding firm to your principles. It's not easy to do.

As for Ms. Toomey, I can't bear to read her whole piece, but I have read the excerpts. She is foul for being such a mealy-mouthed hypocrite. I hope more people un-subscribe from the ADN.

kwalters said...

Also, at the AK Press Banquet on Saturday, I asked Matt Zency why there was no mention in the ADN of what I considered to be a HUGE story-it is all over national blogs.

Matt was very dismissive and didn't think it was news. When I mentioned the anonymous authors of the Federalist Papers-he interuppted me and said, "Mudlats is no Federalist Papers!"

When I told him there were Supreme Court decisions protecting anonymous free speech-he walked away very dismissively. He clearly didn't get why this was a big story-possibly bigger than all of the individual players involved.

That attitude, as much as other factors, certainly has contributed to the downfall of the ADN.

AKPetMom said...

Hi Phil. Great article! I just wish you hadn't belittled yourself when you made your comment about your blog. I love this blog because you address other issues rather than just Alaskan politics. I also know firsthand that you have so many other accomplishments aside from your blog. You are a bit a renaissance man and that's why I love to visit you each day and see what you have to say.

HistoryGoddess said...

I found AKM on August 29th, along with many other confused people. After a month or so, I began checking out the other blogs she had listed to the side. I found you, Celtic Diva, Moore and the Immoral Minority. Then there were more! I began checking Andrew Halcro and ADN. All of you made up part of my morning routine.

I rarely comment on any sites, but I really do want you to know how much I appreciate your writing style and thoroughness. You have given me some laughter and a lot to think about. I seem to get the impression you teach music? Conduct a band? Other times, I am thinking you are a science teacher.

August 29th was a fateful day. Many gathered at Mudflats out of shock and confusion. But, many of us ventured out to other areas and met people like you. Each of "my" Alaska group offers something different. Probably the ONLY good thing about the Palin pick was finding all of you. Even after Nov 4th, I didn't leave. You ALL had become a habit.

So thank you. You don't have one of those map widgets, but if you did, I think you might be surprised at how many visitors you get. I am sorry I hadn't thanked you for all your postings earlier.

Another great post today, Phil. Thanks.

Jan from Olympia, WA

hello said...

Very well thought out piece. Thanks - and while I may not always comment, I always read!

Word verify is 'deden' (as in deden the water, Doogan?)

AKMuckraker said...

You're the only one I'd let post my picture and get away with it! ;-)

Thanks for this great piece. You are insightful as always, and were able to articulate well, and connect the you always do.

Yours was the first Alaskan blog I ever read, and when I was starting out I only hoped I could be half as good. This AK blogging community continues to inspire me with its deep insight, passion, cameraderie, and talent.

Anonymous said...

I kept pondering the author who Doogan reminded me of and finally I remembered his name: Jack Daniels.

Philip Munger said...

{{{{{AKM & family}}}}}

BRB said...

The photo is a hoot...I just knew AKM must be adorable!

Love your blog. I wonder if blogging excellence is directly related to the zaniness of local politicians. You've got a bunch of exceptional bloggers up there.

With appreciation...

mlaiuppa said...

AKMuckracker is a Caribou? (or is that an elk?)

I could have sworn AK was a Moose, hence the obsession with Brian.

In fact, I was kinda thinking AK *was* Brian. That's the picture AK uses on Facebook. I mean, if you're an anonymous blogger, how sneaky is it to use your actual picture?

Molly said...

For a sec I thought "Progressive" had lost his mind and really posted AKM's pic...and I felt guilty but looked....then I thought, oh, she's blonde....then I realized that's Shannyn Moore....then I worried for the safety of "Brian"....I can't tell either if that's a deer or a moose or what....

Thanks for a great post Mr. Munger.
I keep wondering too why this is not Big News since it involves constitutional rights. I really really hope that AKM, even though I'm sure she is very busy with her life already......allows someone to take her case pro bono to sue the pants of that horrible horrible little man you have up there in AK.This privacy thing and free speech and being able to anonymously dissent and anonymously talk "on the tubes" about current events is a huge big deal!! It should be a Huge Big News Story!! Wasn't it Delaware (or one of those other tiny states over on the east coast) that just ruled in favor of anonymous bloggers? Maybe in future, GINO could quote a US Supreme Court Case that she disagreed with: Doogan V. "Mudflats", wherein "Mudflats" prevailed.

Irishgirl said...

Great article!

I would also like to reiterate what HistoryGoddess said. You are on my daily reading list as well.

Aussie Blue Sky said...

Phil, I never told you that I forwarded your post about the stimulus funds as they relate to Anchorage to someone in Anchorage who was thrilled to receive it. On behalf of him - "Thanks!"

Your blog is held in the highest regard - and you're much better-looking than AKM.

Rob in Ca said...

It is beyond astounding that journalists would not leap to the fore to defend an attack on free speech!

I always had this sense of hardbitten newspeople smoking cigars and pursuing truth and justice without regard for their personal safety (or even a living wage).

Since my naive bubble has now been burst, there is really only one question left for me: why are these pseudojournalists so willing to let AKM's free speech rights be trampled?

Either they really are that jealous of AKM's success, and hate that their own paying readers have abandoned them for a pajama-clad blogger...

Or they are afraid to stand up for free speech because there is one other person - far more powerful than Doogan - who feels grievously injured by AKM's friendly little blog and must be mightily pleased at what Doogan has wrought...

Lynn D said...

I am another who reads your blogs all the time and rarely comment. I found you through Mudflats.

You are always informative and insightful. Thank you for all you do!

Anonymous said...

I also enjoy reading your blog and comments whenever I find them. I respect you. Thank you for speaking to issues.

Philip Munger said...

To the several of you who are commenting at this thread, who have been readers, but are newly commenting here - Thanks!!!

Your warm words are more welcome than you may realize.

sauerkraut said...

wow... is that really Shannyn Moore?? Sorry, Dennis and Phil, but she's a look cuter than either of you.

As for the moose being AKmuckraker... um... that looks like a lotta bull.


any sightings of our favorite idiot lately? nooo, I don't mean me!

sauerkraut said...

Oh, yeah, and HERE'S to YOU, Shannyn Moore on your election to the VP of the Alaska Press Club!

Keep the good stuff coming, Phil.

Philip Munger said...

thanks, sauerkraut!

Anonymous said...

Doogan, expect us.

We are legion.

Anonymous said...

I must agree with all the positive comments here. I have pointed people to this blog for several of your most pertinent posts. This one is particularly touching in many ways.

As a Mudpuppy from the day SP was named, I have a great appreciation for the work done by AKM and all the AK bloggers, trying to get the truth out. I have never been so involved in my political leanings. AKM is my favorite, but I assure you that I am a lurker, not a poster here.

Thank you.

Ripley in CT

Casey said...

Phil...I have posted here and there on your blog. Often I am shy to post because you are so intelligent...and I am afraid of sounding dumb to you.

Like many others....I found you last Aug. when I got to mudflats. Alaskan blogs are pretty much all I read now...and I am a Canadian. I think that says a great deal.

Your blog is eclectic and wonderful...and I would give anything to have friends like you..gryphen..shannyn et al like AKM has.

This was another great post.


Philip Munger said...


"I have posted here and there on your blog. Often I am shy to post because you are so intelligent...and I am afraid of sounding dumb to you."

Almost four years ago, I wrote a comment almost exactly like yours at firedoglake. I was so intimidated by the knowledge of the people there, but I wanted to make a point.

Fortunately, there were people at that blog who encouraged me and laughed at my shyness and awe at their understanding.

Please feel totally welcome to comment any time, even if you want to be an anony mouse.

Thanks for your kind words.

Gerbeel Haamster said...

I'd like to note that most "bloggers" tend to think they have opinions that someone should pay attention to. Some bloggers even make claims to priviledged information. That's where the problems start.

Here is part of the original post from Mudflats on the "outing"; a reference to Mudflats' start in the blogging biz:

" ...But I knew some things about her (Gov. Sarah Palin), and her policies and positions that others might not be able to find out so easily. I decided to write my opinion...."

I think the question should hinge on whether a private citizen claims to "know" things that "others" may not have access to, intimating the access is special and privileged.

This is not a journalist protecting a “source”.

Blogging is not “reporting”, no matter how many Bloggers pretend (or want to pretend) they are reporters.

When a Blogger (as so many of us do) crosses the line from opinion to stating supposed fact based on claims of privileged information, that Blogger has lost any expectation of legal protection of their identity.

IMNSHO, if you claim special access, privilege and expertise not available to the general public, expect to get outed.

Tina said...


What if niche bloggers are just paying more attention to certain shenanigans than other people?

What if i knew how guests and property owners are being financially raped in my home state because of some criminally insane legislators?

If i try to warn people and get the laws changed back to normalcy, do i deserve to lose standing in my industry just because i chose to complain anonymoosely?

In the meantime, i write and document everything as if i will be asked to defend myself in court against slander and libel charges. Because if you write something that's true ~ it ain't slander or libel.

If i had to start out identifying myself, i probably would not do it because i'm a little 'skeered'. If and when the time comes to stand up, i hope by then i'm strong enough to stand tall.

Thank you PA, AKM, and ALL of you who pointed out that it's my civic duty to share my niche knowledge.