Liberal Source in Palin Vanity Fair Profile Blasts Reporter: "You're Not A Writer, You're A Climber"

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 2 2010 5:00 PM

Liberal Source in Palin Vanity Fair Profile Blasts Reporter: "You're Not A Writer, You're A Climber"

Ben Smith has been flooding the zone on the problems with Michael Gross's dishy profile of Sarah Palin in Vanity Fair . I've talked to some Alaskan sources of mine and Gross's who are deeply unhappy with how the story turned out. Shannyn Moore, a radio and TV host in Anchorage, gave me permission to quote the e-mail she sent to Gross complaining about how he handled the material and sources. (In the story, Moore is portrayed rather cartoonishly, smoking and talking on her cell phone while driving, but there are people portrayed far more harshly.)

Mr. Michael Gross,

You just "Sarah Palined" people here.

I'm going through a list doing damage control and telling people I'm so sorry I gave you their contacts and vouched for your professionalism and credibility.

You have neither.

I don't give a rip what you said about me - though it was so completely wrong, and put me in such a completely inaccurate and unfavorable light people are mad on my behalf.

Fine thanks for Alaskan hospitality.  I have extended the Alaska Spirit to dozens of journalists and visitors, and I will continue to do so. It's on YOU, not me, as you are the only one who has broken agreements with sources you promised complete anonymity.

I'm sure you're thrilled to be on TV now. Just know, like Sarah, Alaskans paid a price for it. Specifically, a 79-year old woman, with failing health, who spoke to you under anonymity who hopes her adult children will speak to her again.

Shame on you. You're not a writer...you're a climber.

With no respect,

Shannyn Moore

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As a reporter, you sometimes find yourself in the position of taking flak from people who talked to you and then changed their mind about how they were treated by you. Just last week I got an angry e-mail from a man I had quoted because I had mentioned where he worked -- even though he'd told me where he worked, given me a business card, and hadn't asked me not to mention that fact. But I'm impressed by how many people are feeling burned by the Gross story.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.