‘Going Wrong’? — what Sarah Palin’s autobiography has to do with you

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Updated Dec 11, 2009

Not much, really, unless you happen to be reading it and enjoying its critique of media lassitude and political bias, with the exception of a mention of VHF radios and conversations with truckers held from Palin’s Alaskan back porch. The mention of truckers comes via Craig Medred, who offered this critique of Palin’s “Going Rouge” autobiography. The critique takes the form of a fact-checker’s list of errors. He found a mention of conversations held on VHF radio (at a higher spectrum and with a longer range than the CB) that he took issue with:

From “Going Rouge,” on p. 38: “Todd and I discovered we could close the five miles between our homes if we stood on our back porches and used the handheld VHF radios he used on his fishing boat in Bristol Bay. For months, we snuck whispered nighttime chats until we discovered that the commercial truckers barreling through town could hear us.”

From Medred’s commentary:

WRONG OR ILLEGAL, OR WRONG AND ILLEGAL, take your pick. Federal law stipulates that anyone using a VHF radio, a so-called marine radio, from land must have a “marine utility station license.” The licenses are not available to truckers. Truckers have traditionally used citizen’s band — so-called CB — radios. In the most charitable-to-Palin scenario, the radios from Todd’s boat were CBs. But if, in fact, Todd and Sarah were using VHF radios, they would have been doing so illegally, and they would have been mistaken in believing truckers could eavesdrop. You can’t listen to VHF on CB any more than you can watch TV on your portable radio.

That sounds OK, right? But maybe Palin’s got a point about media laziness. The problem with Medred’s logic, of course, is the assumption that no truckers use VHF radios, when in fact particularly up in the north country and out west, many truckers run with VHF in the cab. See this post about the very subject on the forums at The Truckers Report. If you’re going to fact-check somebody else, you might want to be sure several pairs of eyes and brains are going at your own work, eh? Or maybe I’ve messed up, eh?