Monday, July 6, 2009

FBI Puts Palin Speculation To Rest

My buddy, fellow newsman/news media critic (retired but hey, once a newsman, always a newsman) Jim Reese called this one right. He jumped all over those in the media who almost immediately speculated that Sarah Palin's announced resignation as governor of Alaska was due to an impending federal indictment.

Reese rightly pointed out that back in the day when things like this were fact checked before they went to print such a story would never have seen the light of day until there was some kind of confirmation.

Any student of Watergate would know that that Woodward and Burnstein's editors demanded additional sources before they would allow unattributable information to be published. Both aspiring young journalists were frustrated by the mandate. But they also rose to the occasion, getting the documentation and verification to be able to break which was, arguably, one of the biggest investigative pieces of reporting in modern times.

That ethic seems to have disappeared - at least for some in the media. It seems that today, all you need to do is get two talking heads on television. One speculating that an impending indictment caused Palin to step down. Another to defend her. And, hey, you've shown two sides of the story. You've done your "job." And you don't even have to do any reporting on your own.

The public, and Palin, are ill served by such reporting. Especially when it's not true.

Today, the FBI is denying that Palin is being investigated.

It's a rare thing for the FBI to comment on whether or not it has launched an investigation. It goes against the grain of tradition and policy. But in this case, a statement was issued because of the speculation that's been burning up the Internet about Palin.

I'm not a huge Palin fan. I felt that she was ill prepared to be vice president of the United States when she was selected by John McCain as his running mate. I take issue with some of her decisions as governor of Alaska and as mayor of Wasilla. But that doesn't give one the right to accuse her of criminality - not unless and until charges are proffered. Even then, in this country, one is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Now let's see if those who Reese identified as publicly alleging criminal wrongdoing by Palin apologize just as publicly. They should. But I'm sure Reese, like me, won't be holding his breath while waiting.


Anonymous said...

What's sad is that it goes way beyond print journalism and into the MSM. Fox News? It's shocking the amount of propaganda they "report" as fact. Although, it's not relegated just to them.

When I read the FBI statement the other day, it was literally a blip. I barely caught it. I'm not a fan of hers either and truly want her out of the political arena, but I agree with you here. Documentation, attribution, etc. are falling by the wayside and that's a scary place to be.

Julie Tarp

Anonymous said...

I just don't watch cable news anymore. They speculate far more than they actually report. They have to I guess, to fill all those hours and hours of airtime, but I don't have to waste my time listening to it. Just the facts please.

Anonymous said...

I don't know that I agree with you, in substance, that we are innocent until proven guilty under the U.S. Justice system, but I do agree with you in theory on that, and totally agree that the current two talking heads news system sucks; great article, thanks.

Anonymous said...

This is such an incredibly important point you are making. Watergate opened pandora's box, by validating any and every intrusion into a politician's background as the potential to uncover the next Watergate. Clinton called it the politics of personal destruction.

I think Palin will wind up a cartoon character soon enough. But I really dislike the media circling the woman like so many vultures in search of a new meal.

Anonymous said...

Obviously she has some sort of agenda (whatever convulted agenda she has is still an unrevealed mystery) and it has nothing to do with the FBI or other law enforcement investigation. We haven't heard the last of Sara Palin--dammit.

Walter Blevins

Anonymous said...

There is absolute anger towards Sara Palin and while I understand that she might not be your cup of tea, I think it is more against what she represents. If you hold traditional values near and dear, you will foster contempt. If you mention religion, you are dismissed as a kook.
Most humans need a religion of some sort; look at the worshiping of Obama in the last few years, others have made the environment their 'Passion" still others have single issue s like "Gay Rights".
You could make the argument that the largest growing faith is the 'anti-religion nuts' that dominate the left. If someone mentions G*d or Jesus, anything that follows cannot be heard as the vein popping out of the temple seems to impede the electrical current sufficiently to cause the temporary shutdown to the auditory cortex.
The passion is every bit as fervent as anyone in the bible-belt. It would be even more comical if not for the destruction in it's wake.

Jay Richer

Anonymous said...

Part of the blame for this speculation has to rest with Palin given how she handled the announcement. She resigned halfway through her term, on the Friday of a holiday weekend, and without giving good or coherent reasons for the resignation. Of course people are speculating. Also, so far as I can tell, no one outside of the usual deranged bloggers has outright accused Palin of criminality.

Anonymous said...

All things considered, an official FBI denial doesn't really count for anything in the modern world.