Don’t buy into Sarah Palin libelism and slander

Sarah Palin has barely been a household name for ten days, yet almost immediately everyone has a strong opinion of her. Not surprisingly, the internet has abounded with plenty of distortions and lies about her record – cough, some even coming out of her own mouth. But in a somewhat interest of fairness – and flat out disgust that our culture is so willing to spread the worst of rumors, I wanted to come to the defense of the Republican Vice Presidential nominee.

As a general primer, keep an eye on FactCheck.org, which has been working overtime trying to keep track of the 2008 Presidential Campaign. Their article “Sliming Sarah Palin” makes the case for the following and more:

  • Palin did not demand that books be banned from the Wasilla library, she’d only asked a “what if?,” and the librarian she asked the question of “continued in her job through most of Palin’s first term.”
  • “She was never a member of the Alaskan Independence Party, a group that wants Alaskans to vote on whether they wish to secede from the United States. She’s been registered as a Republican since May 1982.”
  • Palin has not pushed for teaching creationism in Alaska’s schools. She has said that students should be allowed to “debate both sides” of the evolution question, but she also said creationism “doesn’t have to be part of the curriculum.”

But perhaps the worst of all charges is one that right wingers are spreading the most: that Palin said, “Sambo beat the bitch!” upon learning of Obama winning enough electoral votes to be declared the Democatic nominee.

An article reporting this as fact appeared on Los Angeles based blog LA Progressive. The piece, written under the pseudonym Charley James, alleges that an anonymous waitress, Lucille, was working when she overheard the slurs…

Gov. Palin was eating lunch with five or six people when the subject of the Democrat’s primary battle came up. The governor, seemingly not caring that people at nearby tables would likely hear her, uttered the slur and then laughed loudly as her meal mates joined in appreciatively.

James, the author, tells me that a friend of his, who also remains anonymous, vouched for Lucille’s honesty.

As I responded to James as well as the editors of LA Progressive, even a well known journalist wouldn’t publish this, even if they had this waitress on video making the claim. Meanwhile, the editors have not responded to my question of whether or not they verified these volatile claims on their own, making them entirely complicit.

James defends his use of an unnamed source to that of larger news organizations, and even mentions Deep Throat. However, he doesn’t mention that larger news organization have a track record to stand by, and even then their editors will routinely require vetting unnamed sources as well.

Even as an amateur journalist, there have been story details that I have withheld printing in the past with sources I trust mainly because I couldn’t find a second source or record to back up the claims.

Instead, we have an anoymous writer, asking us to trust an anonymous source, who says we should trust said source because his anonymous friend said she was trustworthy.

Don’t buy this sort of rumour, folks, regardless of how much you want to believe it. Its an abuse of free speech, an insult to journalism and even blogging, and only opens us up for more of the same.

There’s plenty to dislike about all of the candidates… just stick to the facts, and always question the sources.

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3 responses to “Don’t buy into Sarah Palin libelism and slander

  1. Sambo? Is that really the most important thing that has been said about Palin?

    Now, as to the what if? question of banning books. To me that the question was asked at all seems troubling. What if I wanted you to ban books? And if you say no, I’ll try to get you fired. That doesn’t seem all that democratic (small d) and free speech loving at all.

    As to the AIP, in addition to the fact that her husband was a member until 2002, she did embrace them at their recent convention. http://dallasmorningviewsblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2008/09/sarah-palin-emb.html

    Creationism point seems like semantics. Debating both sides allows religion into the classroom. You can discuss evolution, but the scientific evidence against it just pales in comparison to the evidence for. We could debate the true value of pi if we wanted to as well, but what’s the point?

  2. For a mother of four to ask about the procedure for removing books from the public library seems quite normal to me, especially since no one knows what books they had there.

    What doesn’t seem normal to me is the desperation now being exhibited by her opponents to magnify any tiny little blemish on her record into a so-called “scandal”.

    Fueling that desperation seems to be the meteroric rise of the McCain/Palin ticket in the polls since she came aboard.

    While Obama kept the spotlight on himself by his pick of Joe Biden, McCain decided to share his spotlight with a member of a group that makes up about 50% of the population, women.

    I think it was the most brilliant political move we have seen in this new century.

  3. Thanks for every other magnificent article. Where else could
    anybody get that type of information in such a perfect approach of writing?
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