Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Stalking of Joe McGinniss

Most of the first seven pages of the first chapter of Joe McGinniss' book, “The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin,” can be read online at The New York Times' excerpt of the book, "'The Rogue'." It's there that McGinniss describes how he fortuitously came by the house next door to the Palins. He was within hours of signing a lease on an apartment in Anchorage when Catherine Taylor called to tell him about her property, right next door to the Palins. Moving in next to the Palins wouldn't have been a big deal, if the Palins hadn't tried to make it a big deal.

In Chapter Three, McGinniss describes meeting Todd Palin, wearing a "First Dude" t-shirt. They have quite a conversation, with Joe quoting himself and Todd directly. Todd was very suspicious of Joe, and the last thing Joe told him was, "Listen, I'm a good neighbor. Ask anybody. Ask Roger Ailes at Fox News. Your wife is working for him now. Roger and I disagree about everything political that it's possible to disagree about, but we've been friends for more than fourty years. Have Sarah call him and ask what kind of neighbor Joe McGinniss is going to be. He'll tell you that you're lucky it's me renting this house and not somebody who would do the kind of stuff you're afraid of."

We don't know whether Sarah talked with Roger Ailes, but just a few hours later, she posted on Facebook, and McGinniss quotes her post. McGinniss explains that the picture of him on the deck of his house, taken by the Palins, was taken while he was on his cellphone, looking into the woods. Sarah had written in her Facebook post, below the picture, "Todd went to introduce himself to the stranger who was peering in..." Joe observes that if Piper's bedroom were upstairs, as Sarah claimed, it would be Piper overlooking him rather than the other way around. Joe decides that he doesn't want any of Sarah's feigned neighborliness.

On the next day, McGinniss tells of the media frenzy that followed Palin's Facebook post. He had to tell an ABC News camera crew, filming through a window, to leave his place or he'd call the police. At 6:00 AM, Sarah had already called-in to Glen Beck's show to start a pity party. McGinniss went to City Hall to meet Wasilla's mayor, Verne Rupright, who asked him, "Do you want a gun?" McGinniss wonders whether he needs one and Rupright doesn't think so, saying that most of the threats are coming from Outside and adds, "People around here don't give a shit about Sarah anymore. They're burned out on all her drama."

The controversy over McGinniss' presence next to the Palins was being ginned-up, Outside, by Palin's supporters, who had been sicced on McGinniss by her paranoid Facebook rant. McGinniss goes on to describe how even Fox News had a discussion about whether he could be prosecuted for stalking and harassment. When the Fox crew decides that an arrest for that isn't imminent, they turn to a discussion about suing for an invasion of privacy, which they're told wouldn't be possible unless McGinniss points "those binoculars" in Palin's direction. McGinniss describes how the Fox News discussion degenerates into total lunacy, and McGinniss simply says, "I have not held a pair of binoculars in my hands since I watched a horse race at Saratoga in 2004. But Hysteria does much more for ratings than the unexciting truth." Before moving on to describe, with examples, the complete depravity of comments on right-wing websites, McGinniss states, "Once you've cut the cord that tethers you to reality, anything goes."

The media isn't so ready to uncritically report Sarah Palin's Facebook rants anymore. We can only hope that the day will come when they won't be reported at all.

I'm up to Chapter Four. It's an engaging book -- a very good read. Don't miss it. I expect that it will become "The Bible" on Sarah Palin. It does contain much that hasn't appeared on the blogs, and it shoots down some of the items that have appeared on them.

Note: "Outside" is Alaska-speak for the lower fourty-eight states.

Update: Another review of Joe McGinniss' book has appeared. It is "Book Review: The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin by Joe McGinniss."

Update: C-SPAN's BookTV has an interview of Joe McGinniss, done on the day the book was released. At the beginning of the interview, McGinniss talks about renting the house, moving to Wasilla, and the Palins' paranoid reaction to his presence.


Anonymous said...

Please give several specific examples to support your statements that The Rogue uncovers much that has not been written about on the blogs and also uncovers some things written on the blogs as untrue.

Joie Vouet said...

Anonymous 1:20,

I have never read of Rice/Palin on the blogs. It motivated me to buy the book.

Joe McGinniss writes of Palin meeting John McCain at the Governors Association meeting: "It would be worse than unreasonable to assume that he told her that the only thing that would make her a more appealing choice would be if she could somehow give birth to a Down syndrome baby before the Republican convention in September." Yet you can find that assumption (having a Down syndrome baby enhanced her prospects) on the blogs (at least in the comments) as motivation for why she would fake a pregnancy. I suppose you could say, "It wasn't McCain told her; it was someone else." Go ahead -- make my day. Palin had anti-choice cred before she announced that she was pregnant, so why would anyone tell her that she needed to have a Down syndrome baby to be an appealing VP candidate? Claiming that this happened amounts to layering one conspiracy on top of another, which makes it more difficult to prove the first conspiracy.

You must read the book for yourself and form your own opinions. I don't mind if you disagree. I'm saying that the book sets a new standard for Palin research, and it will become the goto reference on everything about Palin (up until the time his final draft was submitted), simply because he is a journalist and knows how to verify a story. McGinniss had more resources for his research than the bloggers have had. That isn't a fault of the bloggers.

If you want to get a headstart on how McGinniss' research is different, read McGinniss' e-mail to Gryphen. In that there is a list of things that for which McGinniss wasn't able to find "factual evidence." Slate's The McGinniss E-mails may serve as a starting point for that. The list includes "Trig is not Sarah's natural born child." Read Chapter 19 carefully. The sarah-faked-it story is in the book, but it's not presented as fact, which is something at least one blogger doesn't hesitate to write that he knows to be fact.

Joie Vouet said...

Anon 1:20,

McGinniss has confirmed that he sent that e-mail. The guy who published it (Breitbart) is trying to claim that the e-mail discredits McGinniss. Quite the opposite is true.

Like Greta Van Susteren, Breitbart needs to learn to read, to know how quotation marks are used and how long passages from someone else are set off on the page and headed by "so-and-so wrote" or "so-and-so said."