I love being a reporter and I think it's a great profession and that many reporters do invaluable work. I don't think anyone's going to say our proudest moments are involved with the bizarre and bizarrely thorough investigation into former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's email correspondence. But the Washington Post and New York Times -- along with more overtly partisan outfits such as Mother Jones, ProPublica and msnbc.com -- have teams of reporters digging through each and every one of the 13,000 emails that were released late last week. In "Sarah Palin email frenzy backfires on her media antagonists," Toby Harnden at the Telegraph attempts to explain why someone who is no longer a public official or even a Republican Party official commands so much interest:
She is, however, viewed with a kind of horrified fascination by many in the media, who faithfully records everything she says and does while at the same time decrying her as ignorant and even evil.
Whatever it may be, I'm pretty sure that the average American doesn't care about these 26,000 pages of information a fraction as much as the average reporter.
But let's look at how the media reported on any religion angles. One reader favorite came from the Associated Press, which included this paragraph:
They also revealed that Palin, as the newly minted Republican vice-presidential nominee, was dismayed by the sudden onslaught of questions from reporters, especially one about whether she believed dinosaurs and humans existed at the same time. She also dealt with death threats, and at least once, she prayed for strength.
It gives you a really good idea of how boring these stories are, right? "At least once, she prayed for strength." You don't say. Why do I love the phrase "at least once" so much there? I don't know.
What's also interesting to me is that the AP later removed that line from their report. Why? I have no idea.
Or how about this Guardian breaking report:
10.30am: A reader, Ben, draws our attention to another Palin email illustrating the type of loyalty that she enjoyed from some staff during her reign in Alaska.
In fact, as this email shows, one went so far as to tell a colleague that Palin's gifts were inspired from on high.
Railing against "accusations of mis-communicating (again!)" with the state's legislature, the staffer writes:
"I mean Steve, she's the governor. She's a natural, God Given communicator."
Um, okay. I mean, I think even Andrew Sullivan might admit that Palin has special communication skills. I just love the dramatic attempt to make a big deal out of this email by writing "one went so far as to tell a colleague that Palin's gifts were inspired from on high." I mean, come on.
Perhaps this expensive project of devoting all sorts of man hours to digging through the emails will pay off. I don't know. But let's hope if any more detailed religious nuggets come out -- more than the ones noted above -- that the media handles it a bit better than they've done thus far.