Sarah Palin rape kit smear: chronology (Mary Pemberton/AP, DailyKos, Americablog, Eric Croft, Obama campaign)

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Since around September 8, various sites and news organizations have tried to push the smear that Sarah Palin knowingly charged victims in Wasilla, Alaska for rape kits, and that her city stood alone in that practice. As it turns out, those claims are false (link). How did this start? A chronology is here [1], and an amplification is below.

One of the "hidden hands" behind the smear appears to be Alaskan Democrats, such as former Democratic state representative Eric Croft, quoted in the AP story on 9/11 and the CNN story on 9/23. The Obama campaign apparently first got involved around 9/15, although they knew about it as early as 9/12 after the 9/11 AP story. Whether they were involved before will probably never be known, absent obtaining emails to bloggers.


5/23/2000: the local Frontiersman paper published this article.

9/01/08: this blog post mentions it, but that doesn't appear to have been noticed by anyone else so its role as the origin of the smear is doubtful.

9/03/08: the blog "Indiscriminate and Arbitrary Deliberation" run by "George" mentions it here. He had only joined Blogger in August, and his other blog covers cooking pies (link). He doesn't appear to get much traffic, he appears to be a Dennis Kucinich fan, and he appears to be "writing above his pay grade". His sidebar links to some leftwing sites and presumably he also comments there. Perhaps this could be the origin of the smear.

9/08/08: this was the day the Frontiersman story "broke" across blogs. The first mention might have been at a site run by wannabe comic Dave Anthony (link). That was apparently posted at 4pm PST. It was picked up by Americablog [2] at 5pm PST and then at 6pm PST by "Steven R" at DailyKos [3] and then by "Jo Fish" at FDL [4]. Other sites involved were Op Edna [5] and Dave Harding at ProgressOhio [6].

9/09/08: it was picked up by Eric Schmeltzer at the Huffington Post [7].

9/11/08: Mary Pemberton of the Associated Press moved the smear from bloggers to major newspapers, offering this:

Former Democratic Rep. Eric Croft, who sponsored that bill, said he was disappointed that simply asking the Wasilla police department to stop didn't work. Croft said he doubts she was unaware of the practice.

9/12/08: Joe Sudbay of Americablog said this [8]:

Listened to the Obama campaign press conference call this morning. The very first question from a reporter is why the campaign hasn't highlighted the rape kit story. The reporter said, every time I tell someone that story they look at me like I said there is no Santa Claus... Obama campaign chief spokesman Bill Burton's response... "We're familiar with it. Saw the AP story. We are familiar with it."

If anyone knows which "reporter" it was that was trying to devise smears for the BHO campaign, please leave a comment.

9/15/08: the Barack Obama campaign began looking for a rape victim to appear in a TV ad (link).

Kiersten Steward, director of public policy at the Family Violence Prevention Fund, served as a conduit between the campaign and victims and women's advocates... though she never was told about the nature of the commercial, [victims advocate Mikele Shelton-Knight] said she thought that the focus of the ad may be about the practice in Wasilla, Alaska, to charge rape victims to pay for their own exams... Shelton-Knight said Palin should not be criticized for having governed a city with such a law as they were quite common until recent years... Alaska didn't pass a bill until 2000 requiring state and local law endorcement to pay for the exams. And Shelton-Knight said it wasn't until lobbying by her and others that Virginia last year put the financial burden on localities. Many states still charge victims for the cost of the exam.

9/21/08: Chicago writer Anne K. Ream offers "Fault lines in feminism" (link), continuing the smear.

9/23/08: Jessica Yellin of CNN offers "Palin's town charged women for rape exams" (link). From the second link in this post:

[Despite Croft's other claims] Farther down in the story, CNN does reveal that there are no records and no proof that Palin ever even knew about this charging the victim policy. CNN also finally mentions that Wasilla wasn't the only town in Alaska that had this policy.

9/24/08: FactCheck raises questions about the smear (link), and says:

Eric Croft, a former Alaska state representative who sponsored the 2000 legislation, told CNN that "I find it hard to believe that for six months a small town, a police chief, would lead the fight against a statewide piece of legislation receiving unanimous support and the mayor not know about it." But Croft, a Democrat, says he does not recall discussing the issue with Palin at the time.

9/25/08: the New York Times' "Editorial Observer" Dorothy Samuels continues the smear in "Wasilla Watch: Sarah Palin and the Rape Kits" (link). Eric Croft makes an appearance there as well.

10/01/08: Even after all of the above, the Boston Globe editorial "Wasilla made rape victims pay" continues the lies (link).

[1] Same article here:
[3] That post got 395 Diggs:
[5] That post got 144 Diggs:


The issue was not whether Wasilla is the only town to do this--but the fact is that there is a budget with her signature on it that shows the previous years, 1998 and 1999 with 2000, and her budget in 2000 has reduced drastically the funding for "emergency medical testing." Why did she cut an already existing service? As a female candidate and mother of daughters, can we expect that she should have been MORE and not LESS sensitive to the issue of rape than the mayor preceding her? Yes.