Palin Supporters Working on New Analysis of Email Dump

Conservatives say Palin's emails showcase political strength.

June 13, 2011, 10:07 AM

June 14, 2011— -- Sarah Palin supporters have united in a collective grizzly roar, angered by the media's decision to analyze more than 25,000 pages of emails from Palin's term as the governor of Alaska. For the past several days hundreds, if not thousands, of commenters expressed their disappointment online, conservative writers and radio hosts lashed out -- even Ashton Kutcher seemed dismayed.

And now, claiming Palin has been mistreated by the media once again, Conservatives4Palin, a non-profit website with more than 1 million visitors each month, is planning to analyze the emails themselves.

"Some of us were like, 'Oh no, it's just going to be a massive witch hunt. We were afraid of what the media would cook up or try to take out of context," said Conservatives4Palin contributor Nicole Coulter, who lives in Hershey, Pa. "We feel like the media was hoping to find something to pin on her negatively but it's kind of blown up in their faces, with all due respect."

Coulter, who was a Democrat until deciding to become Republican in 2004, has spent the past year writing for the pro-Palin website, which was co-founded in 2009 by Rebecca Mansour, a current SarahPAC staffer. Mansour has some frankness issues of her own when it comes to the Palins.

Coulter says it's impossible to read the emails and not come away with the impression that Palin is loyal and protective of her staff.

"We're categorizing all those emails that suggest the record of a competent and ethical person," she said. "Her record is being finally revealed. I hope everybody reads the emails."

Coulter added, "I 100 percent support her, she's my No. 1 candidate."

Palin Supporters Reach Boiling Point

Although the email dump wasn't damaging to Palin, many of her advocates remain frustrated that the emails were posted in the first place. Angry comments have dominated news websites since Friday, and over the weekend the Twitter account of Crivella West, the company that put Palin's emails online for MSNBC, Mother Jones magazine and investigative news website ProPublica, was hacked.

Some of the tweets sent out over the weekend included: "Emails: Gov. Palin a Hard-Working Public Servant," "Email Witch-hunt Backfires" and "Weiner's America Or Palin's America - That Is The 2012 Choice."

Art Crivella, president and co-founder of Crivella West, told the Twitter account was accessed from the company's Facebook page. Other than that incident, he says, they haven't encountered any backlash -- in fact, they have seen a huge amount of interest from around the world.

Crivella said the emails –- which were posted in just 12 hours -- have generated more than 10 million page views from as far away as Spain, Norway and "all over the English-speaking world."

Anticipating the public's fascination with all things Palin, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times both created their own searchable Palin email databases. And the Washington Post created a special webpage to house stories about the Palin emails -- a quick search of the Post's website puts the latest article count at more than 30.

The Media Are 'Making Asses of Themselves'

The time and cost involved in such an extensive review of the former governor's emails became perplexing to thousands of commenters online, especially because the emails -- more than 13,000 messages -- were so voluminous they had to be housed in six boxes that each weighed 55 pounds.

National Review contributor and radio host Mark Levin commented on the "massive media frenzy" last Friday, saying the media are "making asses of themselves."

"We don't even know if she's running for office –- and look at this … We're told she can't win. We're told to dismiss her, and yet they are all over these emails," he said on "The Mark Levin Show."

"In the spirit of transparency" Levin called on President Obama, Vice President Biden, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi to release their emails. But, as he later noted, the Freedom of Information Act doesn't apply to Congress (or the central offices of the White House).

Linda Perez, administrative director of the governor's office in Alaska, told she has so far received 17 FOIA requests for Palin's emails from media organizations.

ABC News did not submit a separate FOIA request, instead partnering with the Anchorage Daily News and the Daily Beast to digitize and analyze the documents.

Citizen Journalism, Crowdsourcing Irks Palin Supporters

MSNBC recruited about 25 volunteers in Juneau, Alaska, who helped read the emails, according to Crivella. He described it as "a constructive and meaningful examination" that benefited from the citizens of Alaska having the chance to weigh in.

Other media organizations also solicited citizen journalists, and in doing so, provoked some of their readers.

New York Times blog The Caucus put out a request to "Help Us Review the Sarah Palin E-mail Records" – a posting that generated more than 150 comments.

"Wow NYT, this seems beneath you," wrote a commenter who went by the name 'bk.' "I'm really terribly surprised by this appeal to your reader base to act as journalists, on a topic that I hardly feel is news worthy and frankly positions the Times as a willing partner to something that smacks of a mix of Yellow Journalism and character assassination."

The Post's blog, The Fix, also drew scrutiny when reporter Ryan Kellett posted a call-out, asking 100 people to work in small teams to "analyze, contextualize, and research those e-mails right alongside Post reporters" to unearth important information.

More than 2,500 comments streamed in, the majority of them negative.

One comment in particular was "liked" by more than 240 readers: "Rake your own muck," wrote kitchendragon50. "Disgusting that you call on readers to join in your festivities."

Another commenter suggested Palin was facing discrimination: "It is pure sexism the way Palin is being attacked," wrote tina5. "I remember how Hillary was attacked, too. The idea of calling on readers to dig through her emails is outrageous. Why don't you do your own job?"

Even actor Ashton Kutcher criticized the email dump. On Saturday he tweeted, "As much as I'm not a fan of Sarah Palin I find sifting through her emails repulsive and over reaching media."

His wife, actress Demi Moore, chimed in: "So agree!"

The Washington Post has since revised their earlier request, updating their blog with the following: "We have had a strong response to our crowdsourcing call-out on the Palin e-mails. We've reconsidered our approach and now would like to invite comments and annotations from any interested readers."

A spokesperson for the Post told in an email message, "We reconsidered and revised our approach after we took a second look at how the idea was presented. Inviting everyone to send us their comments was more in line with the innovative crowd-sourcing effort we were aiming for."

The Palin Emails: Why Are They Being Examined?


Several readers have wondered why the Palin emails were released in the first place.

Media organizations requested the nearly two year's worth of emails in 2008 via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed after Palin became Sen. John McCain's running mate. FOIA allows for public access to government records, including emails from public officials -- unless they can be lawfully withheld.

Portions of some Palin messages were redacted and more than 2,000 pages were reportedly withheld for privacy reasons. reported the emails covered a wide range of Palin's state business, surprise at her sudden ascension to the national stage, and worries about media backlash.

So far, however, there haven't been any bombshell revelations.

"The thing I've noticed most about the emails is that Sarah Palin is a really good person. She's very gracious and thoughtful to her staff," said Stacy Drake, an editor and contributor at Conservatives4Palin, in an email to "She's has stayed steady on policy issues like energy development, government ethics, she's always been against cronyism, the way she views union members differently than union leaders. She's never been a typical politician."

So atypical, in fact, that even though Palin isn't in office (or currently running for office) she somehow remains the topic of conversation.

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