Alaskan Politician Outs Anonymous Blogger
There are lots of politicians out there who aren’t thrilled with the anonymous free speech the Internet offers. If they don’t know the blogger’s name, they don’t know who to be mad at. One Alaskan political blogger got so under a representative’s skin the representative spent months trying to find and disclose her identity.
You know, because apparently there’s nothing else to do in the Alaskan legislature at the moment.
Alaskan state representative Mike Doogan apparently thought there was some justice in outing a gadfly citizen blogger, but all he really accomplished was making himself look like an incredibly abusive jerk.
The author of The Mudflats blog had a surprise hit on her hands in the wake of John McCain’s selection of Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. Jeanne, as she is now known thanks to Doogan, became so popular among readers and reporters feverish for information, she had to outsource the creation of a discussion forum to volunteer moderators.
Once the national election passed, Jeanne posted a lengthy criticism of Doogan and his lack of email etiquette. According to her, he was so upset about her criticism it wasn’t long before she heard that Doogan was on a mission to out her. In the local paper, Doogan criticized anonymous bloggers because of their inherent lack of accountability—that would be accountability for their First Amendment guaranteed right to an opinion.
Last Thursday, Jeanne received an email from Doogan addressing her by her first name (previously no name appeared on the blog) saying he knew who she was and he was soon to tell all of his constituents about it. Sure enough, he exposed her in his legislative newsletter:
Anonymous Blogger Anonymous No More
The identity of the person who writes the liberal Democratic Mudflats blog has been secret since the blog began, protected by the Anchorage Daily News, among others. My own theory about the public process is you can say what you want, as long as you are willing to stand behind it using your real name. So I was interested to learn that the woman who writes the blog is Anchorage resident Jeanne _____.*
Doogan was apparently very proud of himself for his important investigative work of outing an Anchorage resident with an opinion, a member of his own party, to his constituents, who now likely are afraid to say anything to anybody. Nice work, Doogan. You’re now the frontrunner for the Insufferable Jerk Award of 2009. It’s early yet, though, and as more news comes out of AIG then things could change. Either way, you’re a loser, Mr. Doogan.
Be sure to read all of Jeanne’s post. She explains the various reasons a blogger might choose to be anonymous, the different more important issues facing Alaska at the moment (an erupting volcano comes to mind), and how Benjamin Franklin might be an anonymous blogger if alive today.