#PalinEmail: MoJo Goes to Alaska (Video)

Under “fearless” in the dictionary, see Corn, David. Back in September 2008, our DC bureau chief did what came naturally. He asked a question: Could he see then-Gov. Sarah Palin’s emails? Spurred by the meteoric rise of this obscure Alaska magistrate-cum-vice presidential candidate, Corn filed a public records request with state officials in Juneau.

Then he waited. And waited. In the meantime, Palin became a cipher for our nation’s red-state-blue-state complex (as well as its id-ego kick). News broke that she and her staff had done a lot of state business on personal Yahoo accounts, seemingly beyond the reach of John Q. Public. And even after she abruptly left office, the Alaska government threw up delay after delay on Corn’s records request.

Until this Friday, June 10, at 9 a.m. Juneau time. That’s when the state will release 24,199 pages of emails from the Palin administration, including some of those Yahoo messages to and from state accounts. Persistence pays off.

For an alternate definition of “fearless”, see Bauerlein, Monika, and Jeffery, Clara. With Corn and his band of crackshot DC reporters ensconced in the Beltway this week, Mother Jones needed a way to get those email records across the country as fast as possible. So our hard-charging editors-in-chief asked me if I’d be willing to pack a bag, hop a jet, lug a 275-pound handcart of printed emails to a Juneau law firm, and scan the whole shmeer in (while hopefully reading some of it along the way) by Saturday afternoon.

Under “crazy” in the dictionary, see me.

Officially, the state government says it had to give journalists hard copies of the Palin emails, because it lacked the technology to make necessary redactions in an electronic file. That’s plausible. Also plausible is the notion that they didn’t want to make it easy on reporters from the lower 48. If, when I take possession of the pages and try to make them into PDFs, they’re printed in 7-point Wing Dings font, we’ll know which of these accounts was the most plausible.

In the meantime, though, we thought that this Alaska adventure was an awesome way to give readers a window into the investigative process. So even before Corn’s reporting team starts zeroing in on the stories told by the emails…and before our web team ingeniously assembles a searchable database for you all to read the emails yourselves…I’ll take you along for the ride, from maddeningly tight airline connections to Juneau activist crash pads to the presumable circus campout being planned by a who’s who of media at the state Capitol Friday morning. We’ll be posting blogs, tweets, photos and videos in real time, starting with the one at the top of this post.

How to keep up with the latest? If you’re savvy to the Twitters, keep an eye out for the #PalinEmail hashtag, where our whole crew will be sharing its labors through Friday and the weekend. And if you’d like to ask me questions or see anything in particular covered while I’m in Juneau, give a holler on the email or the Twitter. Hit me up anytime: I’ll be pulling an all-nighter Friday, after all. Or, since it’s Alaska in June, an all-dayer.

Journalism: It’s all about sacrificing the body!

UPDATE: Greetings from Alaska. My latest video:


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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