A cache of e-mails released Friday add vivid new color and fresh details to the complicated public portrait of Sarah Palin, who displayed many of the same strengths, and shortcomings, as Alaska governor that she would later bring to the national political stage.
Often blunt and frequently impatient, Palin derided “old school” politicians and bureaucrats and acted as a champion of populist interests on issues ranging from energy policy to women’s rights, the e-mails show. Her relations with fellow politicians, including many Republicans, were often strained, and she relied heavily on her husband, Todd, and a close-knit group of aides to help cope with crises and shape policies.
Alaska officials on Friday released thousands of pages of Sarah Palin's emails from her first 21 months as governor, giving a fresh glimpse at the time when she rose to national prominence and became the GOP vice presidential nominee. (June 10)
A private look at Palin’s persona
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Palin felt passionately about issues of importance to her state, the documents show, and she waged battle with foes large and small. That included detractors on obscure government commissions as well as multinational conglomerates seeking access to Alaska’s vast oil and gas reserves. She twice refers to one major oil executive with a derogatory nickname and complains that phone calls with him did not go well.
Palin also devoted significant attention to the portrayal of her and her administration in the press, regularly decrying “untruths” in media reports and working feverishly to push back on negative assertions. Targets of her ire ranged from mainstream newspapers to commenters on local blogs.
In one e-mail in February 2007, Palin wrote that she “will try to carve out time in the day to more fully scan news clippings and try to catch some of the talk shows via internet, but so far I haven’t even found an extra minute to be able to tune into the shows unless I’m . . . driving in my car.” She told staffers: “i need folks to really help ramp up accurate counter comments to the misinformation that’s being spread out there.”
The e-mails — some 24,000 pages total — were released in response to public-information requests from media organizations, who first began asking for the records during Palin’s run as the Republican vice presidential candidate in 2008. More than two years later, Palin has become a fixture in the conservative political firmament, a reality-TV celebrity and a barbed critic of President Obama who may, or may not, be pondering a run for the White House.
The promise of potential news about Palin drew a deluge of reporters and other media employees to Alaska’s picturesque, isolated capital of Juneau, where state officials Friday prepared six sealed boxes of printed messages for each news organization that paid for the documents. Reporters fought for elevators in a mad rush out of the building to begin converting the documents into electronic form for perusal and publication.
Palin, a broadly polarizing figure, has remained a magnet for attention since Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) made her his surprise pick for vice president in August 2008. The records released Friday spanned the dates from her start as Alaska governor in December 2006 to September 2008, after her first month as a national candidate.