Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Sound Bite

An Anchorage newspaper is using digital audio files against the administration of governor Sarah Palin to show that her staffers pressured officials to have her brother-in-law fired in the wake of a custody dispute involving of an acrimonious divorce in the Internet version of the newspaper.

Recording devices that capture the agents of the state acting inappropriately also became part of the story when it was revealed by the Los Angeles Times that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had made disparaging racial remarks about a Latina legislator. The online version of the story linked to the MP3 file of the governor's comments.

In the case of this week's story, "Palin staff pushed to have trooper fired," the article is linked to a sound file in which the caller eventually gets around to the issue of what he calls a trooper with a "family tie with the governor" and inquires "why nothing is going on" in his termination.

Palin said the "most disturbing" was a phone call Frank Bailey, the governor's director of boards and commissions, made to trooper Lt. Rodney Dial in February. The Public Safety Department recorded the call, as it does routinely.

Palin, who said she'd only just learned of the call, released a recorded copy of it to the press on Wednesday. In it, Bailey clearly pressures the lieutenant.


Bailey told him during the conversation that Palin and her husband want to know why Wooten still has a job.

"Todd and Sarah are scratching their heads, 'Why on earth hasn't this, why is this guy still representing the department?' He's a horrible recruiting tool, you know," Bailey told the lieutenant.

Bailey made several accusations against Wooten in the call, including that he lied on his application. Dial asked Bailey how he knew about any issue with the application.

"I used to be a recruiter. I know a lot of times that information is extremely confidential," Dial told him.

The call begins with Bailey making a question that he describes as "a little bit awkward to ask" in an unrelated matter about "keeping us in the loop" as contract negotiations progress. In this part of the conversation, there are several other issues about digital rhetoric and distributed communication raised. For example, the caller also talks about the risk of e-mails being "forwarded to God and everybody," so that legislators would be made aware of embarrassing information. The person called argued that he only became aware of such information when it was "public knowledge" and "posted on their website." In the background, an instant message sound indicates that at least one of the people on the phone is multitasking.

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