The Kilkenny Memo & Citizen Journalism

Note: I’m posting all this partly because I think it’s an exciting example of how the internet is completely changing the political process!
Update: Disclaimer removed.

Ben Smith reports on the [rumors and emails plaguing Palin](

>”Information abhors a vacuum, and like Barack Obama was at first, Sarah Palin was an unknown quanity,“ said the internet folklorist David Emery. ”When you have all that pressure and very little information — that’s when the rumors start flying.“

>”People tend to pay attention to the things that are very basic,“ said Mikkelson. ”A long, detailed analysis of a candidate’s voting record gets out there and people’s eyes kind of glaze over, but put some simple issue out there and people will seize onto and circulate stuff about.“

>(There is one exception to this pattern: *A long, often accurate e-mail criticizing Palin’s policy and character by a Wasilla Democrat, Anne Kilkenny*, has circulated extremely widely.) [Emphasis added]

Coverage of the letter itself from [Ben Smith @ Politico](
>I’ve received some 50 copies of a long e-mail from a woman named Anne Kilkenny of Wasilla, and it may be the most potent attack on Sarah Palin out there, bouncing around the Internet at the viral speed of an Obama-Muslim rumor.

>[The Anchorage Daily News]( confirms its authenticity and describes her as a “stay-at-home mom, letter-to-the-editor writer and longtime watcher of [Mat-Su] Valley politics” who has been deluged with e-mail as she become’s Palin’s leading local critic.

>She says she clashed with Palin over her 1996 “attempt at censorship,” a reported suggested to ban books at a local library, which Palin later said wasn’t a serious proposal.

>The letter mostly contains undisputed facts, and while it’s occasionally positive — “she’s smart” — it offers a bit of an alternate, and mostly hostile, history to the campaign biography.

>A sample: “They call her ‘Sarah Barracuda’ because of her unbridled ambition and predatory ruthlessness.”

***Selections* from [A Note To All]( by Anne Kilkenny** (circulated August 31, 2008)

>I am a resident of Wasilla, Alaska. I have known Sarah since 1992.
Everyone here knows Sarah, so it is nothing special to say we are on a
first-name basis. Our children have attended the same schools. Her
father was my child’s favorite substitute teacher. I also am on a
first name basis with her parents and mother-in-law. I attended more
City Council meetings during her administration than about 99% of the
residents of the city.


>During her mayoral administration most of the actual work of running
this small city was turned over to an administrator. She had been
pushed to hire this administrator by party power-brokers after she had
gotten herself into some trouble over precipitous firings which had
given rise to a recall campaign.

>Sarah campaigned in Wasilla as a ”fiscal conservative“. During her 6
years as Mayor, she increased general government expenditures by over
33%. During those same 6 years the amount of taxes collected by the
City increased by 38%. This was during a period of low inflation
(1996-2002). She reduced progressive property taxes and increased a
regressive sales tax which taxed even food. The tax cuts that she
promoted benefited large corporate property owners way more than they
benefited residents.


>She has bitten the hand of every person who extended theirs to her in
help. The City Council person who personally escorted her around town
introducing her to voters when she first ran for Wasilla City Council
became one of her first targets when she was later elected Mayor. She
abruptly fired her loyal City Administrator; even people who didn’t
like the guy were stunned by this ruthlessness.

>Fear of retribution has kept all of these people from saying anything
publicly about her.


>First, I have long believed in the importance of being an informed
voter. I am a voter registrar. For 10 years I put on student voting
programs in the schools. If you google my name (Anne Kilkenny +
Alaska), you will find references to my participation in local
government, education, and PTA/parent organizations.

>Secondly, I’ve always operated in the belief that “Bad things happen
when good people stay silent”. Few people know as much as I do because
few have gone to as many City Council meetings.

>Third, I am just a housewife. I don’t have a job she can bump me out
of. I don’t belong to any organization that she can hurt. But, I am no
fool; she is immensely popular here, and it is likely that this will
cost me somehow in the future: that’s life.

>Fourth, she has hated me since back in 1996, when I was one of the 100
or so people who rallied to support the City Librarian against Sarah’s
attempt at censorship.

>Fifth, I looked around and realized that everybody else was afraid to
say anything because they were somehow vulnerable.


>*read **[the complete letter](** with **[updates and references](***

The letter is one of the main sources for a controversial article I posted about earlier today (post deleted due to questions of journalistic sloppiness): from The Progressive Curmudgeon,
[Alaskans Speak (In A Frightened Whisper): Palin Is ”Racist, Sexist, Vindictive, And Mean“](”racist-sexist-vindictive-and-mean“/)

I came across another post by a blogger calling herself Celtic Diva, which eventually led me to delete my earlier post: Celtic Diva Cries Afoul!: [“The Progressive Curmudgeon” may have journalistic history, but I think he’s making a mistake on this one. **UPDATED**]( and the Curmudgeon’s response about reporting with anonymous sources: [Sarah Palin and Me](

There has since been [coverage by the New York Times](, which I would recommend as a great all-around source for information on her tenure in Wasilla.