Of all the slings and arrows Sarah Palin suffered on the campaign trail, perhaps the "most disruptive and discouraging" was having her email account hacked into, the one-time vice presidential candidate writes in her new book, Going Rogue: An American Life. She echoed that sentiment in an interview with Fox News's Sean Hannity broadcast Wednesday night. At the height of the presidential campaign, a 20-year-old University of Tennessee student hacked into Palin's Yahoo email account and posted it online.
"That was quite devastating because I knew of some of the personal conversations I had that were in some inbox and I didn't know what was going to be out there," Palin told Hannity. "That caused a lot of disruption and even distrust within the campaign that was unfortunate."
In her book, Palin explains how she felt after the hack. "I was horrified to realize that millions of people could read my personal messages, including the thoughts of a friend who had written of her heartbreak over her pending divorce," Palin writes, adding: "What kind of responsible press outfit would broadcast stolen private correspondence?"
The hacked emails were quickly posted on the Web -- and they included phone numbers and email account addresses for her children. They soon began receiving what Palin described as "vulgar email threats and phone calls."
"The incident put tremendous stress on the campaign," she writes. "Schmidt and others acted as though they believed scattered reports that my hacked e-mail contained incriminating messages that would 'destroy the McCain campaign.'"
Palin writes that "there were no messages, of course, but the episode ratcheted up paranoia and distrust inside the campaign."
She writes that she was already out of touch with her children, because the McCain campaign had confiscated their cell phones.
The Palin hack was revealed after someone named "rubico" posted a mea culpa on 4chan.org, an online bulletin board frequented by individuals associated with "Anonymous," an amorphous, largely unorganized movement of hackers who gained notoriety after some adherents targeted the Church of Scientology. The hacker later posted about how easy it was to access her account.
In highlighting the the hack controversy, Palin is "leaving in the dust other issues that blighted her GOP campaign with John McCain such as controversies around her daughter Bristol's pregnancy and her inability to handle questions about foreign policy," John Leydon writes in The Register, a well-read tech website.
David C. Kernell, the son of a Democratic state legislator, is currently free on bail. He faces a maximum of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and a three year term of supervised release, and will be tried next spring.
Palin's book has been a runaway bestseller, proving that she remains a potent force in American politics. She seems to have a deep base of support among portions of the Republican Party and some independents. But the response to her book hasn't been all positive. A Santa Cruz, Calif. bookstore now selling Palin's book is throwing in a bag of nuts with the purchase. "The nuts are a perfect statement for the politics of Sarah Palin," Casey Coonerty-Protti, the bookstore's manager, told the San Jose Mercury News.
Sarah Palin: Yahoo email hack was 'devastating' to campaign