Sunday, September 21, 2008

Palin e-mail hacking: Blame the victim

A week ago, I noted that the Associated Press was ignoring the crime against Sarah Palin and instead focusing on how her e-mail being hacked "raises new questions" about Palin. Now a Washington Post columnist uses the hacking story to portray Palin as the Karl Rove of the McCain campaign, prompting Jonah Goldberg to comment:
In short: Palin was asking for it (oh and Karl Rove is to blame too). Great standard there. I'm sure that won't come back and bite you guys on the ass someday.
Here is the thing that gets me about the way the press is treating this story: Elected officials are both government employees and politicians. They must keep their government duties separate from their political activities.

It would have been an abuse of public resources if Palin had used her official government e-mail account to engage in communication that was political or personal in nature. Therefore, Palin created her personal Yahoo account and, so far as "rubico10" or anyone else was able to determine, didn't do anything nefarious with it. The account was used, as might be expected, for unofficial communications that were not directly related to her service as governor of Alaska.

No one has demonstrated anything criminal nor unethical about Palin's use of Yahoo for her personal e-mail. Instead, Democrats are engaged in a very familiar practice of their post-Watergate politics: Make an accusation of GOP wrongdoing, launch an investigation, and then try to catch Republicans in defensive actions that can be characterized as a "cover-up."

In this case, the alleged scandal is Palin's firing of the state public-safety commissioner, who had refused to fire Palin's former brother-in-law, a state trooper accused of various malfeasances. Of course, firing the commissioner was entirely within Palin's legal authority as governor, but this hasn't prevented Democrats and the media from trying to turn it into a gigantic scandal that somehow proves her unfitness for office.

Democrats are Democrats, and politics is politics, but what is amazing is the shameless one-sidedness of the media coverage. When Bill Clinton perjured himself in a federal civil-rights lawsuit, the media treated Ken Starr as the villain. When it was discovered in 2003 that a Democratic filibuster of Miguel Estrada's appointment was part of a larger strategy to derail President Bush administration policy, Republicans were blamed for "hacking" into Democratic staff files to discover the plan.

To the liberal media, there is no such thing as an actual Democratic scandal, and any Democrat accused of wrongdoing can always count on the press to portray him as the victim of a right-wing inquisition. Meanwhile, Republicans engaged in ordinary political activity -- trying to keep their private political discussions private -- are always suspected of conspiratorial scheming, and even criminal activity can be justified, so long as the victims are Republicans.

And, by the way, since it was reported Thursday that the Memphis FBI office was involved in the Palin investigation, not a single major news organization has followed up to ask what it is in Memphis that merits the FBI's interest.

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