Conservative media figures rip NYT, WaPo for asking readers to help ‘investigate’ Palin emails

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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The New York Times and the Washington Post issued open calls on Thursday asking their readers to help them “investigate” emails from Sarah Palin’s tenure as governor of Alaska. There was no indication of what this investigation was supposed to uncover.

Conservative columnist Michelle Malkin told The Daily Caller that the Times and the Post should just finally admit it: they are “left-wing organs.” Malkin wondered why these bold, new media-minded folks were not investigating the Obama administration.

“Where were all the crowd-sourcing champions at the New York Times and Washington Post when Democrats dumped the thousand-plus pages of the Obamacare and stimulus laws on the American people?” Malkin asked in an email to TheDC. “How about issuing an open call for collective public analysis of the nearly 1,400 recipients of HHS health care waivers? Or perhaps a project to pursue FOIA requests and reader information-gathering to probe Project Gunrunner?”

Malkin said calls for reader help with investigations that are critical of anyone on the left “ain’t gonna happen, of course,” at the Post or the Times. “So perhaps these left-wing organs should simply abandon all pretenses and form a progressive consortium with the Huffington Post and Daily Kos to officially unveil Operation Get Sarah,” Malkin said. “Then they can submit their joint application for the Pulitzer Prize in public-service journalism while mocking Palin for her thin skin.”

(Times mixes message on call for reader help with Palin email investigation)

Ann Coulter, author of the new book “Demonic,” told TheDC she thinks the Post and Times should refocus their efforts on something more useful to their audiences. “I think they should review my book!” Coulter said in an email to TheDC. “How many bestsellers do I have to write to get a review around here?”

Accuracy in Media’s Center for Investigative Journalism director Cliff Kincaid told TheDC that these open calls for help attacking Palin show the Times and the Post are biased and lazy.

“The appeal for help going through the Palin emails reflects both liberal bias and laziness on the part of these news organizations,” Kincaid said in an email to TheDC. “They want dirt on Palin but don’t want to get their fingernails dirty doing the digging. They personally don’t want to spend the time sifting through the material, but are afraid they might miss something that could be interpreted in such a way as to cast Palin in a bad light.”

Kincaid said the newspapers are basically using untrained free labor to do their jobs for them.

“So they are relying on amateurs and free labor to do the heavy lifting,”Kincaid said. “Reporters don’t have the time to actually do the work because they are primping for their next TV appearance or getting makeup in the green room. This is the nature of liberal journalism today.”

Even if Times and Post readers answer the call to start ripping apart Palin’s emails, there is still no indication they will find anything controversial. Jedediah Bila, a columnist for The Daily Caller and author of the new book “Outnumbered: Chronicles of a Manhattan Conservative,” said she thinks this latest call is indicative of the mainstream media’s treatment of Palin.

“Many in the mainstream media have what I refer to as Palin-OCD. Sarah Palin is a gutsy, principled conservative with a solid record of accomplishments, and that scares the living daylights out of the Left,” Bila said in an email. “They typically don’t pick on her record because AGIA, ACES, slashing earmarks by 85%, investing $5 billion in state savings, and backing up rhetoric about transparency and spending cuts with bold action are tough to pick on. So, they dig for something ridiculous they hope media outlets will run with via catchy headlines.”

Bila points out that these news organizations complain about Palin all the time yet continue to cover her by choice.

“Many of the same ‘journalists’ insisting that Palin is irrelevant ironically hang on her every word, desperate to snatch something they can sensationalize,” Bila said. “Interesting that so many of those reporters don’t harbor the same investigative passion when it comes to their heroes on the left.”

Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center told TheDC the Times and Post are “making a mockery of objective journalism” by asking their readers to help “investigate” Palin. “This is character assassination on the part of the Times and Post,” Bozell said in an email. “If they want to show balance and objectivity they should also ask readers to submit evidence of Obama Cronyism towards his political benefactors.”

Spokespeople for the Post would not answer when TheDC asked them about the “journalistic merit” of their open calls for reader help in “investigating” Palin’s emails.

Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha originally denied that her paper made the open call, only to admit it after TheDC sent her a link to her newspaper’s own story. She said the Times has asked readers to help with investigations in the past, and points specifically to when the Gray Lady asked for help going through Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s daily schedule back in 2009. Yet the Times didn’t use the word “investigate” when it came to Geithner.

In an email Friday morning, Rhoades Ha wouldn’t specifically address how the Times justifies the “journalistic merit” of asking its readers to help “investigate” Palin’s emails. She did, however, argue that that the Times is trying to “crowd-source” and that their reporters will review everything before publishing it.

“We are inviting readers to do their own search of the public documents on nytimes.com. It’s called crowd-sourcing and we think it is an interesting way to bring more eyes to large troves of public information,” Rhoades Ha said. “We have two reporters in Alaska as well as other reporters in New York to review the documents. The readers’ search is in addition to our reporters, not in place of it. If readers draw our attention to something interesting, our reporters will review the information before publishing it on our website or the paper.”

Malkin concludes that this is yet another example of the Post and the Times spouting elitist liberalism and attempting to pass it off as journalism. “Now: Can you imagine if Fox News asked viewers to join them in a similar endeavor?” Malkin told TheDC. “Every journalism pooh-bah across the country would be caviling about the un-credentialed barbarians at the media gate. Question: How do you become a journalist? New York Times and Washington Post editors’ answer: By our invitation only.”