Palin’s e-mails: why so bland?

They waited nearly three years for boxes of what promised to be controversial and entertaining news fodder, straight from the fingertips of the U.S. vice-presidential candidate.

“Editors, bloggers and producers were doubtless rubbing their hands in glee on the expectation that the unfiltered thoughts of Sarah Palin as expressed in her email messages would be at least as idiotic as some of the unfiltered statements that come out of Sarah Palin’s mouth when she’s in front of a camera,” wrote L.A. Times’ Dan Turner.

What they got instead is a 24,000 pageload of mundane messages. No new revelations, not even material for a laugh.

The e-mails – or at least the ones the media has managed to sift through — are so boring it makes one wonder whether Sarah Palin, conscious that the messages could potentially be perused by the public, wrote them accordingly: free of gaffes, uninformed statements and controversy. (The Guardian has asked the public to help them sift through the e-mails)

She wouldn’t be the first politician to do so.

Some researchers claim the Freedom of Information Act – which the U.S. has had more than 40 years of getting used to –  has had a “chilling effect” on politicians in Sweden and Canada. Sanitising records or making important or controversial decisions in unrecorded oral discussions may be a logical result of politicians and staff being conscious of potential public scrutiny (a study by the Constitution Unit, showed UK politicians would rather keep good records than face any negative consequences, however.)

Palin is often ridiculed for lacking media saavy and being a teleprompter addict – but she may have just outsmarted us all.

The disclosure on Friday and Monday by the state of Alaska contains e-mails from her Yahoo account, as well as the state-related e-mail from her staff’s personal and work accounts.

Until now, the documents consist of correspondence with aides, nice words for then-presidential candidate Barack Obama,  e-mails showing annoyance about certain press coverage and a picture of Palin and her husband with an Elvis impersonator.

The e-mails spanning Palin’s first two years as governor were requested during the 2008 national elections, when she was Senator John McCain’s running mate, by citizens and news organisations such as the Associated Press. By now, her aspirations are one step further up the ladder as she toys with the prospect of being president.
Almost 2,300 pages were held back due to data protection issues, however.
“Who knows what juicy tidbits we might have found had the rest been available?” Turner wrote.
It may be that the good stuff was simply redacted or withheld. It may be that a golden nugget is hidden under the crease of a photocopied e-mail printout. Maybe Palin is simply not as interesting as people seem to  think — or she just knows how to avoid FOI.

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