Put Biden’s Senate archives online and crowdsource them like happened with Sarah Palin’s email archives
U. Delaware says the archives won’t be fully curated until spring 2021, just a few months after the 2020 election. Speed up the process, release now what is ready, then follow the Palin process where numerous media entities had readers crowdsource the contents.
Joe Biden doesn’t want people going through his Senate archives housed at the University of Delaware before the 2020 general election.
Biden struck a deal that would keep the archives hidden from the public until two years after Biden leaves public life. But with the sexual assault allegation from Tara Reade, those archives have come into focus.
Biden could consent to access to the archives, according to the U. Delaware archive website:
Vice President Biden donated his Senatorial papers to the University of Delaware pursuant to an agreement that prohibits the University from providing public access to those papers until they have been properly processed and archived. The University is bound by, and will comply with, the agreement. Until the archival process is complete and the collection is opened to the public, access is only available with Vice President Biden’s express consent.
The archives were donated in June 2012.
Remember these are files regarding Biden’s time in public office, unlike documents various people are seeking from Donald Trump which concern Trump’s personal life and business. The Biden archives could have been made public by now, 8 years after they were donated, except for the deal Biden struck to keep them out of the public eye.
The archives will eventually be made public, but only after it’s too late, and not just on the Tara Reade allegation.
Biden himself gave away the game when he stated during his interview with Mika Brzezinski that the U. Delaware archives should not be made public because some of the archived material may create political problems for him (emphasis added):
MB: Go ahead. The first is about your University of Delaware records. Do you agree with the reporting that those records were supposed to be revealed to the public, and then they were resealed for a longer period of time, until you leave, quote, public life? And if you agree with that, if that’s what happened, why did that happen?
JB: Because look, the fact is that there’s a lot of things, of speeches I’ve made, positions I’ve taken, interviews that I did overseas with people, all of those things relating to my job, and the idea that they would all be made public in the fact while I was running for public office, they could be really taken out of context. They’re papers or position papers, they are documents that existed and that — when I met, for example, when I met with Putin or when I met with whomever, and all of that could be fodder in a campaign at this time. I don’t know of anybody who’s done anything like that. And so the National Archives is the only place there would be anything having to do with personnel records. There are no personnel records in the Biden papers at the university.
MB: So, personnel records aside, are you certain there was nothing about Tara Reade in those records, and if so —
JB: I am absolutely certain.
MB: — why not approve a search of her name in those records?
JB: Approve a search of her name?
MB: Yes, and reveal anything that might be related to Tara Reade in the University of Delaware records.
JB: There is nothing. They’re not there. I don’t understand the point you’re trying to make.
MB: The point I’m trying to make —
JB: There are no personnel records by definition.
MB: The point I’m trying to make is you are approving, and actually calling for a search of the National Archives records of anything pertaining to Tara Reade. I’m asking, why not do the same in the University of Delaware records, which have raised questions because they were supposed to be revealed to the public and then they were sealed for a longer period of time. Why not do it for both sets of records?
JB: Because the material in the University of Delaware has no personnel files. It has — but it does have a lot of confidential conversations that I had with the president about a particular issue, that I had with the heads of state of other places, that — that would not be something that would be revealed while I was in public office or while I was seeking public office. It just stands to reason. To the best of my knowledge, no one else has done that either.
MB: I’m just talking about her name, not anybody else in those records — a search for that. Nothing classified with the president or anybody else. I’m just asking, why not do a search for Tara Reade’s name in the University of Delaware records?
JB: Look, I mean, who does that search?
MB: The University of Delaware. Perhaps you set up a commission that can do it. I don’t know, whatever is the fairest way to create the most transparency.
JB: Well, this is — look, Mika. She said she filed a report. She has her employment records still. She said she filed a report with the only office that would have a report in the United States Senate at the time. If the report was ever filed, it was filed there, period.
Wait, what? The archives may be relevant to the current polical campaign? That is precisely why the archives of Biden’s time in the Senate should be made public now.
The NY Times thinks the archives should be searched, so this is not just a Republican issue. Of course, the Times ludicrously suggested that the search for documents regarding Tara Reade be done by the Democratic National Committee (which has rejected the idea, anyway).
An NBC reporter suggests a team of reporters be assigned to the task:
“I think anything the Biden campaign can do, if they could agree on a certain number of reporters, a pool to go in & have access to the records & to write about it the way the other candidates have done with tax returns, that would be a step forward.”
But there is another way, a way Democrats embraced when the issue was former Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin’s state email archive from her time as Governor. When those tens of thousands of emails were released, they were put online by major media websites, which invited readers to crowdsource the review, with real-time updates.
Here’s what I wrote at the time, June 10, 2011 about that media crowdsourcing [links in original, have not been checked recently]:
This list is a work in progress, as new headlines will be added…:
- CBS News – Palin’s emails: Work, disdain for the press — and a haircut: “With reporters coast-to-coast now frantically searching through 24,000 of Sarah Palin’s emails from when she was Alaska governor, here’s what we’ve seen so far: A governor who doesn’t particularly like the press, who is engaged in energy issues facing her state and who is extremely hands-on in the day-to-day business of the office.”
- The Guardian – Sarah Palin emails show life in Alaska, from tanning bed to Troopergate:“Tens of thousands of pages of Sarah Palin’s emails released on Friday offer an intimate portrait of a politician caught in an almost daily battle on issues ranging from oil exploration to an ethics investigation…. The emails are peppered with the folksy language that have become her trademark, such as “unflippinbelievable”, “holy….”, “ugh” and “thank the lord”.”
- The Washington Post – Sarah Palin e-mails show constant concern: “Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin’s e-mails show constant discussion and concern about how she is portrayed in the media, on matters big and small.”
- Politico – Sarah Palin camp: Bring it on: “It remains to be seen if any real news will come out of the email dump, and if the result is something short of a bombshell Palin may be able to call this one a PR win.”
- Politico – Newt Gingrich advised Sarah Palin on PR: “In an email sent shortly after Palin was selected as John McCain’s running mate, Gingrich suggested a possible way for Palin to handle questions about the expenses Palin billed to the state…. Gingrich signed the e-mail: “Thanks, Newt”
- CBS News – Sarah Palin emails: The highlights: “CBS News has searched for some interesting tidbits among the thousands of exchanges.”
- HuffPo/AOL – Sarah Palin Shall Have Her Revenge On The Mainstream Media: “Like many other organizations that cover politics, we at The Huffington Post have made our arrangements to obtain the emails, have handed out assignments to reporters and are hopeful that a crowdsource army will help to pick up the slack. What are we expecting to find? Who knows? Maybe a lot of Comic Sans. Maybe some penetrating new story about Palin’s Alaska reign. Maybe it will be a hot pile of nothing! Yeah, that’s right: One possible outcome of this exercise is that it will be a complete bust.”
- The Washington Post opens Twitter account @PalinEmails – “Headlines and details about Sarah Palin’s emails during her term as governor of Alaska. Follow @FixRachel for updates from Juneau” including this tweet: “#Palinemails show show Todd Palin’s key role as an adviser.”
- The NY Times – Palin Urged Staff to Be Open With Press: “Ms. Palin’s antipathy toward the mainstream media is well known. She calls them the “lame-stream” media, and her recent One Nation bus tour was designed to make it particularly difficult for reporters to cover. But toward the beginning of her administration, in January 2007, Ms. Palin wrote a long e-mail to her senior staff members urging them to talk to the press about whatever they wanted.”
- The New Yorker – Palin Emails Out: “It may take a few days to make sense of them, or it may just take a few minutes, given the scale of the crowd-analysis operation going on. Several media outlets are asking readers to read along; there are dedicated Twitter feeds, and lists of Twitter lists, some more specialized than others.”
- Detroit News – Palin emails rarely mention Michigan, search shows: “Michigan, Detroit or its political figures rarely were the topic of discussion for former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, a search of the emails sent before she was tapped by Sen. John McCain to be his running mate reveals.”
- Business Wire Press Release: Local Student James Pfeifer Received First Box of Palin Emails: “Crivella West Incorporated, an advanced analytics and investigational research company, announced that James Pfeifer, a 7th grade student at Jefferson Middle School in Mount Lebanon, received the first box of Sarah Palin emails released today by the State of Alaska in Juneau, Alaska. James, brother of Joseph and Lauren, is the son of Debra Pfeifer and Greg Pfeifer. James was accompanied by his mother, Debra Pfeifer, an attorney with Crivella West. She is part of the Crivella West team that is digitizing over 24,000 emails released as a result of freedom of information requests. ” (Note: Crivella West was hired by NYT, WaPo and others for the project.)
- L.A. Times – Words of wisdom from supporters point to history, God: “Sarah Palin supporters across the country were quick to offer their own tips for the campaign in the weeks following her ascension to the John McCain presidential ticket. Among the words of wisdom offered: look to American history—and to God.”
- ABC News/Daily Beast – Sarah Palin Had Her Eye On Vice Presidential Slot Months Before Receiving Nomination: “Sarah Palin kept a close watch on her constituent mail in the months before Sen. John McCain picked her as the vice presidential nominee, especially a series of flattering messages suggesting she join the Republican presidential ticket.”
- NY Times – Palin Upset by Media Focus on Family in Summer 2008: “In the weeks leading up to her selection as Mr. McCain’s running mate, Ms. Palin seemed to be paying particular attention to mistakes she found in news media reports about her.
The Biden Senate archives would be more complicated, for sure. The volume (1800 boxes and hundreds of gigabites of data) is far greater, and there might be national security or other information that needs to be redacted.
U. Delaware has had the archives since 2012, surely they must have done some work to get them ready. In fact, the archivists have said they have been “curating” the archives and expected them to be ready by Spring 2021, just a few months after the 2020 presidential election (but not released until 2 years after Biden leaves public life):
The University of Delaware said in a statement provided to CNN that the school is still “curating the collection” and the process is not expected to end until well into 2021. And even after the curation is finished, a spokeswoman for the school told CNN, the school would not release the papers until two years after Biden retires from public life.“The University of Delaware received the Biden Senatorial Papers as a gift from Vice President Biden. We are currently curating the collection, a process that we estimate will carry at least into the spring of 2021,” spokeswoman Andrea Boyle said in the statement. “As the curating process is not complete, the papers are not yet available to the public, and we are not able to identify what documents or files can be found within the collection.”
U. Delaware should marshal resources to get that review done now, not a few months after the election, and if it won’t do it, surely there are other entities who could do it with Biden’s consent. Whatever has been reviewed already should be put online, and then more documents released online on a rolling basis.
Then all of the media entities who called upon readers to crowdsource the Palin files can also call on readers to crowdsource the Biden Senate archives.DONATE
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