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Alaska Blogger Shannyn Moore Wins 2009 Steve Gilliard Journalism Grant at Netroots Nation

Who is Shannyn Moore?

She is Alaska’s most courageous, outspoken and mercurial independent commentator. She can build a log cabin or remodel an upscale urban house. She can pilot a limit seiner through a storm in the Gulf of Alaska. She can field dress a moose or a bear.

She can also field dress a lipstick-encrusted pitbull.

Friday morning, at the Netroots Nation Conference in Pittsburgh, Shannyn Moore was awarded the 2009 Steve Gilliard Journalism Grant. Although the amount of the grant, $500.00, isn’t large, it is a great honor for Shannyn, and Alaska bloggers are very proud of her. I’m sure Steve Gilliard would be proud to have his name associated with this gutsy, truth-seeking fighter for liberal values.

As Markos Moulitsas observed about Gilliard:

When reporters ask me when I first started thinking Daily Kos would become something more important, I tell them about the Dean campaign, or about the traffic explosion during the run-up and start of the Iraq War.

But that’s pretty much bullshit. Because the reality is much more mundane, much less sexy — It was the arrival on the site’s comment boards of two people — Meteor Blades and Steve Gilliard.

They were a real revelation to me — I couldn’t believe that people like them, so brilliant, so insightful, so talented, would spend time at my little corner of the world. They inspired me to keep writing, keep building this place. Because if nothing else, I needed to make sure they had a platform upon which to speak.

So they ended up being two of the first contributing editors on Daily Kos. Steve, in fact, was the first person I ever approached with the "guest blogger" offer. And he didn’t waste time getting started, drawing on history of the region and the British occupation of Iraq in the late 1910s to set the stage for what the US would soon face in Iraq. He was frighteningly prescient on Iraq, and it wasn’t the only topic he would consistently nail. He was a credit to the progressive blogosphere.

Gilliard was mostly known for his blog posts at his own site, The News Blog, and at other blogs, like DailyKos. As firedoglake readers know, he was highly respected at the lake.

Shannyn Moore took to blogging in the early summer of 2008, after she had been fired from a progressive talk radio slot at Anchorage’s KUDO-AM radio. Her firing was the second round of shakeups at the station, that had earlier ended the most progressive lineup of programs in Alaska history. That earlier lineup, that ran from late 2006 through mid-2008, had actually had a positive, perceivable impact on the 2008 Anchorage municipal election, through revelations about sleazy deals caught on an inadvertent iPhone conversation that ended up on the late Anchorage assemblyman Allan Tesche‘s answering machine.

At the first shakeup, KUDO program director Aaron Selbig was fired, replaced by not-very-progressive Carey Carrigan, a longtime second-string fixture in Anchorage media. For a while, Carrigan retained Moore. Her popular late morning slot was moved to early afternoon, and sometimes preempted by infomercials. Eventually, in early summer 2008, Carrigan fired Moore.

Soon afterward a few of Moore’s friends, one of whom was me, convinced Shannyn to start a blog. Surprisingly, she didn’t feel she was much of a writer. Within a couple months of the startup of Just a Girl from Homer, the selection of then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as Sen. John McCain’s 2008 GOP running mate spurred Moore and other Alaskans to begin writing at Huffington Post. Moore’s posts there caught on, to say the least (10,137 comments to this one!). Her combination of comprehensive knowledge of Alaska and national politics and witty one-liners earned her a following at Huffington Post that is quite remarkable.

During the fall 2008 presidential campaign, Moore became Alaska’s voice on Air America radio, where she was interviewed again and again. Then, both Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow on MSNBC began using Shannyn as one of their commentators on Alaska issues and on Sarah Palin.

After the fall campaign, Palin continued to be an item of interest, as she began to insinuate herself into GOP national politics. Palin’s new national profile and her seemingly pathological need to connect with her new-found national constituency, doomed Palin’s previous actions with the Alaska legislature tending toward bipartisanship to the past. Shannyn Moore was able to communicate these changes to a national audience far better than any other Alaskan commentator, through her Huffington Post essays and continuing national media appearances.

In late spring, 2009, Moore was given a Saturday evening talk radio slot on KBYR-AM, which generally plays far-right radio, such as Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and local hate radio personality, Eddie Burke. Her program has attracted an unprecedented national audience for its webcast.

When Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin announced her impending resignation on July 3rd, Moore, along with other Alaska bloggers, speculated that there were rampant rumors that Palin was under investigation by the Federal government. Unlike the rest of us, though, Moore was singled out by Palin’s personal attorney, Thomas van Flein, with those who carried her remarks being threatened with a lawsuit. Moore, along with the rest of the Alaska bloggers, realized the threat was pure, unadulterated bullshit, because the last thing Sarah Palin wants is to be brought into an open-ended deposition involving a civil court case.

Moore held a 5th of July press conference, denouncing Gov. Palin as a "coward":

On the Fourth of July, when Americans everywhere were celebrating our most sacred national holiday with parades and barbeques, Governor Sarah Palin was busy having me, Shannyn Moore, declared an Enemy of the State.

In a rambling quasi-legal letter, the most powerful person in this state accused me of defaming her for pointing out the fact that there have been rumors, -rumors- of corruption, rumors that have been around for years.

When Sarah Palin gave her three-weeks notice to the people of Alaska, aborting her term as Governor, a lot of people wondered why she quit. Mid-level managers turn-in their notice, not elected public officials. It didn’t make sense. It still doesn’t. People have been trying to guess why she really quit, and everyone in Alaska has been playing the guessing game. They’re rumors. There are a lot of rumors. And with all the corruption we’ve had here in Alaska, of course we wonder what’s really behind her resignation.

Governors don’t just quit. But Governor Palin did.

The governor’s massive overreaction -on the Fourth of July no less- should make any reasonable person wonder what’s wrong with her. The Lady protests way too much. Eventually we’ll all find out why she really walked off the job.

Sarah Palin is a coward and a bully. What kind of politician attacks an ordinary American on the Fourth of July for speaking her mind? What’s wrong with her? The First Amendment was designed to protect people like me from the likes of people like her. Our American Revolution got rid of kings. And queens, too. Am I jacked-up? You betcha.

Sarah Palin, if you have a problem with me, then sue me. Shannyn Moore will not be muzzled!

The influential news aggregator and blog, Buzzflash, awarded Moore their Wings of Justice Award for her handling of the attack, and for her reporting and commentary.

Moore, more than any other progressive figure now active in Alaska, has become a national voice that helps the rest of the nation know that there are liberal visionaries here capable of articulating a powerful vision of what Alaska can be.

As Shannyn says, when closing her weekly radio program, "I’m just a girl from Homer, painting a red state blue, one stroke at a time.

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Alaska progressive activist, notorious composer and firedoglake devotee.