A Philosopher's Blog

Palin & Crowdsourcing

Posted in Ethics, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on June 11, 2011
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The media folks, in many ways, created the media juggernaut that is Sarah Palin. They continue to sustain her in an ironic way: the more they attack her, the more she benefits.

Obviously, I have written about her. However, I have decided to adopt a strict Palin Policy. My policy is that unless she actually decides to run for president or does something else of true significance,  this will be my last Palin blog. In a way, the blog is more about the media than about her.

The Washington Post and New York Times are in a fine frenzy over the release of 24,000 Palin emails from her time as governor of Alaska. While a sensible person would probably think that pretty much all that needs to be known about her time as governor is already known, the Post and Times are eager to sift through the digital haystack in search of some sparkling needle that presumably can be used to jab Palin.

If some dire doubts remained about that time or if a great deal was at stake, then sifting those emails might be worth the effort. I do, of course, admit, that some true nuggets of information might be found that would make the game worth the electricity. However, it seems like a lot of effort with only a small chance of a worthwhile payoff of any sort.

Because there are so many emails and the traditional media companies are not doing as well financially, the Post and Times are crowdsourcing the work. The idea is that people will, for free, grind through the emails looking for choice bits to provide to the Post, Times and whoever else is involved in this little adventure.

If they can get people to do their work for free, then that would be rather good for them. No doubt this would also strengthen the trend of news agencies making use of the public as unpaid staff members. On the plus side, this does increase the amount of information coming in to the news agency and it allows the public to be actively involved in the news process. On the minus side, the professionals really should be doing their jobs. After all, they are supposed to be the professionals. There is also the concern that relying on amateurs can lower the quality of the news (which is already rather low). Finally, getting people to do this sort of work unpaid seems rather exploitative-especially when done by (allegedly) liberal organizations.

As a final point, it seems just a bit creepy to be going through someone’s emails like that. As noted above, if there were good reasons to think that the emails contained information about illegal or unethical activities that would be the business of the people, then that would be one thing. However, this seems to be a mix between a hopeful witch hunt and creepy voyeurism. Naturally, if something of true importance does turn up, I will write a post admitting that I was wrong.

Yes, I do suppose that I am actually defending Sarah Palin.




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15 Responses

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  1. magus71 said, on June 11, 2011 at 6:01 am

    Interestingly, her emails reveal her to be an intelligent person willing to fight for what she believes in, even if it costs her political points. There is no behind the scenes conspiracies, no nasty language aimed at the media or those that have flayed her character and intelligence.

    For instance, in one email she writes:

    “I wish I could shame people into ceasing such gossip about a teen, but can’t figure out how to do that.”
    — Sarah Palin

    and in another…

    “And if I’m asked to speak at any convention, I only will if I get to put together a candid, blunt ‘change your ways, GOP’ speech that demands change in leadership or folks are going to bail.”
    — Sarah Palin

    I’ve seen nothing to show that she is evil or hateful or stupid. Everything the media wanted her to be…I see someone who’s willing to hammer demogogues and careerists. She sees the weaknesses of the GOP, those that have bent their rhetoric and beliefs in accordance with whatever they thought was fashionable at the time.

    In other words: She has my vote if she runs in 2012.

  2. T. J. Babson said, on June 11, 2011 at 8:58 am

    It would have been good if the media had spent as much effort going through the 2,800 page health care bill as they did going through the SP emails.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on June 13, 2011 at 6:54 pm

      True. But that lacked the appeal of squirreling about in someone’s emails. Some media folks have a poor sense of what is significant.

  3. frk said, on June 14, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    The final word(s):

    For Palin: 4:05 to 10:30
    For Weiner 10:53 to 15:21
    one possible fate of the world and man’s role in it 15:30 to the end of the show

    free Hulu

  4. magus71 said, on June 15, 2011 at 7:36 am

    I’m not done yet.

    I love it: “Could big media look any dumber?”

    “Not only was Palin not discredited by the emails, but they exposed to the public a competent leader and a rather decent human being.”


  5. frk said, on June 15, 2011 at 8:57 am

    “competent” and “rather decent ”
    I’d say every adult in my neighborhood is competent and rather decent.
    Those might be adequate leadership qualities in a state with a population of 700k and rather few international relationships to deal with. But , then, let us remember she didn’t even complete her term as governor there.

    • T. J. Babson said, on June 15, 2011 at 9:46 am

      “But , then, let us remember she didn’t even complete her term as governor there.”

      Exactly. So why the vast interest in her emails? She holds no public office and is not even running for public office.

      My theory is that SP is kryptonite to the left. She poses an existential threat to lefty thinking and must be brought down.

      • magus71 said, on June 15, 2011 at 10:56 am

        “My theory is that SP is kryptonite to the left. She poses an existential threat to lefty thinking and must be brought down…”

        And I’ll stay with the thinking I’ve gone with here in Afghanistan; anything that my enemy hates I should strongly consider.

      • Michael LaBossiere said, on June 15, 2011 at 5:01 pm

        I don’t think she is their kryptonite. Rather, she is their obsession and she seems quite happy to bask in the light they cast upon her. After all, their “attacks” merely give her more coverage and more support.

    • magus71 said, on June 15, 2011 at 10:59 am

      Well, competent and rather decent is about the only reason Obama got elected, right?

      Now let’s try competent and decent on the other end of the political spectrum. I’m betting we get better results.

      Palin 2012

      • frk said, on June 15, 2011 at 11:51 am

        “Well, competent and rather decent is about the only reason Obama got elected, right?”

        That statement says much about W and virtually nothing about Obama.. But I’d argue that, given the experience of the previous eight years and the opponents the Republicans put up in ’08, Obama, decency aside, could have won the presidency by being competent. Which he is. Skipping vague ideological arguments for a moment ,just compare the decisions he’s made, and the condition the country is in now compared to where it was when W handed over the reins to him . On the basis of competency, it’s pretty easy to argue that we’re better off than we would have been under McCain/Palin’s doubtful competency. Perhaps by 2012 “rather decent” will be important again, as it was in 2000 and a “competent” (?) and “rather decent” person will win again as in 2000. Sarah should bide her time. Palin/Gingrich ’12?

      • Michael LaBossiere said, on June 15, 2011 at 5:03 pm

        I doubt she will run. She has a sweet gig going. Being president would mean giving up the relatively easy money and the ability to engage the media as she desires. Plus, she’d be subject to a lot of tough questions. I think she knows she is better off milking her fame rather than going into the campaign grinder.

  6. frk said, on June 15, 2011 at 10:13 am

    She did hold public office, albeit brieflly. She’s not running, but why the tour in the gawdy bus? Do you know? Newt debated even though DB declared him unfit to run a 7Eleven and MS said he couldn’t run a two-car funeral. But NG might still run.

    If you watched the Jon Stewart clips on Palin and Weiner I posted yesterday, you’d likely take a less DC Comic-based approach. The lamestream media is doing what it does, no? No different that Geraldo’s Secret Vaults of Al Capone nearly a quarter century ago. Sarah could grow a Geraldo-like mustache take a brief trip into the past and get almost as much exposure as she’s getting now.

    She should stop waxing her upper lip.

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