It was Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. Cotton Mather, the Minister of Boston’s North Church, respected author and publisher of his time and an ardent believer in witchcraft, fanned the flames. Mather and his ilk believed that demons were among them and played upon the fears of other so called Puritan citizens. They incited others, who joined in the mass hysteria and false accusations against innocent young women (and some men), and the result was 14 women and 5 men were executed for the “crime” of witchcraft. This sad and sorry chapter in American history is generally accepted by historians as a terrible lapse in due process and a radical intrusion on the individual liberties of all of those accused innocents. It was also an example of how people, who want to punish those with whom they disagree or do not understand, can commit acts of senseless suffering. It was so bad, that Increase Mather (Cotton’s father), perhaps with a guilty conscience, wrote shortly after the executions, “It were better that ten suspected witches should escape than that one innocent person should be condemned.”
Nearly 320 years later, using the Freedom of Information laws as an excuse, so called respected publications, such as The New York Times and The Washington Post, descended upon Juneau, Alaska where they voraciously pored over 24,000 emails of former Alaska Governor, Sarah Palin. The Post and the Times didn’t accuse Palin of being a witch, however, the scenario is chillingly similar! What they did was to read, not only business emails from her tenure as Governor of Alaska, but also personal and private messages written by her and to her by family and friends. In an effort to find incriminating or embarrassing disclosures, The Washington Post, in an article entitled “Help Investigate the Palin Emails,” on June 9th, 2011, stated, “We are looking for 100 organized and diligent readers who will work alongside Post reporters to analyze, contextualize and research the emails. Think of it as spending some time in our newsroom.” The Post went on to tell the prospective snoopers, “We’ll give you a sense of what to look out for…”
Not to be outdone, The New York Times, in an article on June 10th, 2011, written by Michael D. Shear, solicited the help of its readers “to help reporters sift through the voluminous correspondence” and reminded them to “Stay tuned… for the latest on what we find in these emails…. And come back to the NYT for updates.” The Times further promoted the interest of its readers by reminding them that “Ms. Palin’s celebrity and the possibility that she might run for President have given the effort more attention.”
The Post and the Times, in a desperate effort to find “dirt” on former Governor Palin, incited others to come and help. Was this not an intrusion into her personal liberties and due process? The similarities between the frenzied citizens in Salem in 1692 and the Post/Times legions in Juneau flush with excitement as they peer into the private life of Governor Palin, only because of her political views, should give us all pause no matter if our politics are conservative or liberal. Even TV star, Ashton Kutcher, a self proclaimed opponent of Palin’s views, had the decency to come to her defense. “As much as I am not a fan of Sarah Palin, I find sifting through her emails repulsive…” The actor referred to those in the press and public doing the snooping as “email wolves.”
Is it a stretch to compare the Juneau episode with the Salem Witch Trials? In one critical way, it is not. The “witches” were charged with doing things consistent with witchcraft as it was perceived in the late 1600s in the colonies. There were investigations, hearings and trials based upon “evidence,” or probable cause, provided by the accused as well as other so called witnesses. Palin has not been given that right. What crime has Palin been accused of? What evidence of wrongdoing has been found? What is the probable cause for investigations? Why is the Post (in their own words) “investigating Palin?” The Post and Times reporters and all of their snoopy helpers poring over thousands of Palin’s emails was just as bad as the so called Puritans who found the need to harass innocent people because of their beliefs. These are the very same people who sit in their board rooms in New York and Washington and decry the loss of civil liberties, when prospective terrorists are profiled or their phones are tapped. Hypocrisy? Do you think?
Let’s be honest. This entire sleazy endeavor was because liberal media and their henchmen want to find anything that could embarrass Governor Palin because of her politics. Palin has sinned, just like the witches in 1692. She is a conservative and a threat to them. She is evil. She must be destroyed or rendered ineffective. They are a ruthless and savage bunch. They are the “demons.” They have no shame and are deserving of nothing less than outright contempt for all actions associated with this sad chapter in American history.
To all the editors, writers and followers of The New York Times and The Washington Post, I have a message for you. Character assassination, personal destruction and intrusion into personal liberties are still alive in the editorial rooms of your newspapers. Most of the Puritans involved in the Salem Witch Trials later apologized and asked forgiveness for their disgraceful conduct. When do we expect to hear from you?
I will not be holding my breath waiting for your apologies, however, I have a few suggestions for you.
All of the editors who made these decisions to “investigate” Governor Palin without probable cause or evidence, please provide to the public all of your own personal, private and business emails from your computers over the past several years. As a threshold for all of those 100 citizens and reporters who are executing the “dirty work”, before you begin, please publish your emails from the past several years. The public would like to see if the “investigators” are worthy of doing the “investigating”!
Finally, explain to all of us why no such standards were ever applied to Barack Obama’s emails while in the Illinois or U.S. Senate, or to any other candidate for office who has not been accused of anything. Furthermore, explain to me why those, who have been actually exposed for either wrongdoing or embarrassing disclosures, have not been held to the same standard. Those who immediately come to mind are former Sen. John Edwards, former New Jersey Governor James McGreevey, or the latest stellar example, Congressman Anthony Weiner. Are you folks lining up to collect his emails? Was there any outrage from the Post or Times when former New York Governor Elliott Spitzer was rewarded for his conduct with a job at CNN?
I sincerely hope that all of you pathetic souls enjoy your own “witch hunt” in Alaska. To the New York Times I say, this is part of “all the news that is fit to print”?
The latest disclosures involving Rupert Murdoch are equally disturbing. How far will media zealots go to get the “scoop” or find dirt? It is time for all members of the media, conservative and liberal, to take a look into the mirror and get past the simple reflection and take a long look at what they see. It is my sincere hope that The New York Times and Washington Post will look into that mirror long and hard before going after the Murdoch story. Snooping to find dirt is snooping to find dirt no matter who directs the effort. Murdoch should be investigated, but not by those guilty of hypocrisy.