Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sarah Palin and the Library Smear

The Commiecrats just don't give up, do they? *Nowhere* in any news article does it indicate that *any* book was actually banned. Nor does any banning *ever* appear on the City of Wasilla records. (Thanks to Confederate Yankee).

What the facts *do* indicate is that Mayor Palin, approached with petitions to take something off the library list, turned to the city librarian and asked “What is the procedure for these sort of complaints?” That’s hardly the same as actually taking action to ban anything. Asking for a clarification on “how we deal with complaints” is hardly the same as banning anything. The truth about this story is also between the lines in the Alaska local Wasilla paper, and the Anchorage Daily News, although the headlines are the usual sensational bias.

I can just imagine the flip side of this—what if something horrid like kiddie porn was smuggled into the library and Mayor Palin didn’t inquire about it. Then the media would be claiming “MAYOR PALIN SUPPORTS KIDDIE PORN IN LIBRARIES!” Why do I suspect a set-up?
The Anchorage Daily News asks: “Were any books censored banned? June Pinell-Stephens, chairwoman of the Alaska Library Association's Intellectual Freedom Committee since 1984, checked her files Wednesday and came up empty-handed.”

Meanwhile, Blogress Jessamyn West, a Vermont librarian, states that “there appears to be no truth to the claim made by the commenter, and no further documentation or support for this has turned up.”

The librarian, Mary Ellen Emmons (now Baker), was not fired but instead resigned in August 1999, two months before Palin was voted into her second term.

You don’t like her stance on abortion? Fine. But this story has no substance to it.

The book-banner tale seems to have originated in a widely circulated Aug. 31 email from Anne Kilkenny, who is not a "South Park" character but a Wasilla resident and harsh Palin critic.

On Sept. 2, Time magazine repeated the tale, attributing it to John Stein, Palin's predecessor as mayor, whom she defeated in the 1996 election.

Some asshat named Andrew AuCoin then posted "the list of books Palin tried to have banned"--90 of them in all. But another reader noticed that the list actually seemed to originate at this page--where it appears under the headline "Books Banned at One Time or Another in the United States."

But the phony list was already making its way around the Internet. The myth that Sarah Palin is a "book banner" has taken hold, at least on the left. It shows up, for instance, in two Salon articles (here and here) today.

There is also the issue of -- horrors! -- Praying for our troops! (shudder)

Blogger Jim Lindgren notes another example, a CNN report from yesterday:

[Palin] also talked to church members about "being saved" at the Assembly of God and suggested to them that the war in Iraq is a mission from God. Palin said, "our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God. That's what we have to make sure that we are praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God's plan."

But this quote turns out to be out of context, which seems to be usual nowadays. Here's what Palin actually said:

"Pray for our military. He's [Palin's son Track] going to be deployed in September to Iraq. Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do also what is right for this country--that our leaders, our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God. That's what we have to make sure we are praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God's plan."

"I find it hard to believe that Anderson Cooper does not understand the difference between praying for something you hope is true and stating that it is true," Lindgren writes. (The article with the misleading quote actually is written by a correspondent for Cooper's show, not Cooper himself.) It's all too easy, however, to believe that journalists would be sloppy at best when reporting stories that fit their stereotypes about Palin in particular and conservative Christians in general.

On PBS's "Washington Week in Review" Friday, hostess Gwen Ifill reported encountering hostility on the floor of the Republican Convention: "There was a genuine grievance underneath all of that, this idea that she had been a victim and a victim of sexism and a victim of media bias." Jeanne Cummings of Politico disagreed:

"Well, I don't have any sympathy for them. I don't think there is any grievance that matters. John McCain put this woman--and she accepted--in a position to become president of the United States in the next 60 days. We don't have enough time to mess around with this. We need to know a lot more about this woman. And it's our job to find out everything we can about her, so the voters can make an educated decision about whether they want her that close to the presidency."

Even if "this woman" has nothing to complain about, don't readers and viewers have a right to expect that journalists report what they "find out" only if it is true?

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