Archive for September 2011

“P-Day” passes: Sarah breaks another promise

The one thing Sarah has insisted on over the past few months was that she would announce her decision about running for president by the end of September.

Well, guess what?

Here we are.

And only silence from Sarah.

Finally, even her longtime supporters have had enough. See this.

You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time…

But now even the some who have been fooled by Sarah until now have had enough.

Looks like Janet Maslin of the New York Times might be her last fan standing.

Radio Satellite: an experience unlike any other

Last Friday, I did a radio satellite tour of the USA.

For two hours, nonstop, I did a series of six to ten-minute interviews with radio shows, either live or taped, on thirteen different stations.

It was like the old country music song “I’ve Been Everywhere.”

I was on in:

Las Vegas
New York (Sirius, which means nationwide)
Minneapolis/St. Paul
St. Louis
Grand Rapids

On Tuesday morning, I did it again, for two and a half hours, appearing on fifteen different shows in:

San Francisco
Kansas City
Salt Lake City
Grand Rapids

And on Wednesday morning, I’ll do it yet again, for two hours, on at least a dozen different shows.

As soon as I finish, I run outside, jump in a car, travel to Boston and fly to Toronto, where on Thursday I’ll do interviews from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. before flying back to either Boston, New York, or Los Angeles, depending on arrangements and scheduling still not finalized.

Radio satellite is crazy: instead of visiting forty different cities for interviews and signings, I sit at home and do interviews in forty cities by telephone.

What’s wild is that each different show in each different city presents a different format and different
hosts. I never know if I’ll be facing someone who’s read THE ROGUE and has intelligent questions, or, to go to the opposite extreme, the host at WLAV-WMMQ in Grand Rapids today, who had no questions for me, but who said, “I’d love to put you in a boxing ring with Sarah Palin. She’d kick your ass.”

And then he kept repeating it, as some strange mantra of sick fantasy: “She’d kick your ass…She’d kick your ass…She’d kick your ass…”

I finally said, “Do you have a question to ask me about my book?”

He said, “No. But she’d kick your ass…she’d kick your ass…And I hope Todd kicks your ass…”

I said, “So you don’t have any questions to ask me? You just want to blather on like that?”

He said, “I have a question: ‘How could you write in your book that Todd Palin had sex with prostitutes?”

“I didn’t,” I said. “That’s not in my book.”

“You wrote that Todd Palin slept with prostitutes! I hope he kicks your ass. And Sarah Palin could kick your ass.”

“I didn’t write that. Apparently, you haven’t read my book.”

“No! I haven’t! And I don’t intend to!”

At that point, I ended the call.

Sixty seconds later, I was talking to a delightful woman in Little Rock, or Louisville, or Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Radio Satellite is like playing poker: you never know what cards you’ll be dealt, but you’ve got to play them as well as you can.

I don’t know where I’ll be between 9 and 11 a.m. on Wednesday morning.

But I look forward to being in Toronto, one of my favorite cites, Wednesday night and all day Thursday.

Oh, yes: in regard to Sarah’s lawyer writing a letter to my publisher threatening a lawsuit, Random House/Crown issued a statement this afternoon:

“ We are confident that the reporting in THE ROGUE is solid, reliable, and well-substantiated. We stand by our publication and our author.”

Geoffrey Dunn in Firedoglake

Here’s another dose of reality.

“Blood in the Snow”.

And this from a man who wrote a competing book about Sarah.

Boston Globe Takes Note of ROGUE Ruckus

A fair-minded article about me today in the Globe. Read it here.

As some of the prepublication vitriol subsides and more people read THE ROGUE, and not merely the National Enquirer, more are viewing it as the serious work it is.

From Seattle to Toronto: great reviews for THE ROGUE. UPDATE//also Times of London, Associated Press

Hey, nobody is more sorry than I am that the National Enquirer snagged a copy of THE ROGUE before publication and trumpeted a few “sensational” stories from it.

That led the New York Times to break their agreement to run a review the day before the Sept. 20 publication, and instead run it on Sept. 15.

That one review was blistering. Maybe the worst I’ve ever had, going back twelve books and forty-two years. (Don’t have time to pull out my scrapbooks and check.)

But National Enquirer + that one review gave MSM an excuse to dismiss THE ROGUE, rather than consider my criticisms of mainstream lack of coverage of the real Sarah Palin.

Suckups to power such as Howie Kurtz of Daily Beast and CNN pontificated on panel shows a week ago that THE ROGUE was not worth reading. Not that he’d read it.

By the time I started doing interviews last week, the MSM had its meme: THE ROGUE is tabloid trash that relies on anonymous sources who tell salacious stories about Sarah.

Nobody pointed out that if all the items National Enquirer turned into headlines were put together, they would take up only about three pages in a 320-page book.

All in all, it made for a long week as Piers Morgan, the women of The View, Joy Behar, Martin Bashir, etc. etc. came at me with fangs bared.

That was fine. I’ve been dealing with hostile interviewers since 1969, when many in the MSM of the time attacked me for having had the gall to write disparaging things about the man who was then President: Richard Nixon.

I was slightly annoyed that the cowardly lion Keith Olbermann, after bashing my book and me on the Bill Maher show–even while admitting that he hadn’t read it–canceled my scheduled appearance with him last week, apparently afraid to confront me face to face.

Rachel Maddow and Terry Gross of Fresh Air wouldn’t even schedule me.

“Morning Joe” also canceled.

I must have committed a truly egregious crime in order to turn MSNBC hosts into clones of those at Fox News.

What do they have in common?

Fear of Sarah Palin.

And need of Sarah Palin

Even though she holds no office, nor ever will again, MSM cowers in anticipation of her lash.

But they also know she still drives ratings.

This combination of fear and perceived necessity has caused MSM to give Sarah a free pass from the start. And apparently it’s automatically renewable as long as her presence on the political scene draws viewers and readers.

She has succeeded in bringing out the worst in MSM: both their cravenness and their greed.

The consummate hypocrite herself, she also encourages MSM hypocrisy. (i.e. They’re just too “high-minded” to investigate the myriad contradictions surrounding the birth of Trig.)

And they don’t like being told they didn’t do their job in 2008 and haven’t done it since, having made no effort to see the grotesque face that lies behind the snazzy mask.

I got behind the mask. I did find the real Sarah Palin.

But it’s a whole lot easier to try to kill the messenger than it is to read the message.

Nonetheless, ebb is turning to flow as reviewers beyond the beltway/NYTimes axis read the book.

This, for example, from Toronto.

And from Seattle, today, we have this.

Two more weeks of publicity coming up.

Unfortunately, given threats I’ve recently received, I’ve been advised not to announce in advance where I’ll be appearing, or when.

The attempts at intimidation go on, from the bilious slurs of Breitbart to the crazed rantings of a blogger soliciting donations to SarahPAC for “Todd’s legal defense fund” to pay his lawyers after he gets arrested for assaulting me so badly that I am hospitalized because of the injuries he will inflict.

I’m serious. There are people out there spewing stuff like that.

Especially after Tucson, they can’t be ignored.

But if you’d like to get a longer view and larger perspective, please read this Sam Tanenhaus story
in last Sunday’s NYTimes Sunday Review section. (Note, although Mr. Tanenhaus is the editor in chief of the New York Times Book Review, this piece ran on the front page of the separate Sunday Review section, which treats matters and people of cultural, social and political importance, going well beyond books and authors.)

“The Political Provocateur?”

To that, I gladly plead guilty.



Associated Press

And I’ll close with the estimable Andrew Sullivan in the Murdoch-owned Times of London:

The next two weeks will determine the future of Sarah Palin. She has promised to make her mind up on whether she will run for the Republican nomination by the end of this month, and this week Joe McGinniss’s devastating portrait of the politician, The Rogue, will be published. That’s quite a combination — and could lead to either the end of the phenomenon or the beginning of its next, more lethal stage.

The initial reaction of Palin’s husband Todd to nuggets of the book leaked to the National Enquirer suggests that, whatever happens, there will be fireworks.

Of McGinniss, he said: “This is a man who has been relentlessly stalking my family to the point of moving in right next door to us to harass us and spy on us to satisfy his creepy obsession with my wife. His book is full of disgusting lies, innuendo and smears.”

Really? McGinniss, whom I’ve met once but emailed frequently on all things Palin, wrote the book because he believed the mainstream media didn’t ever get close to the true weirdness, extremism and instability of the former vice-presidential candidate. He also knew Alaska well, having written a bestseller, Going to Extremes, about it; and was steeped in political reporting, from 1969’s The Selling of the President to his brutal take-down of Ted Kennedy, The Last Brother. McGinniss is the last of a certain breed of aggressive reporter who knows how to get ordinary people to tell him things and is fearless about publishing what he finds out. And he smelt a story that the Washington press just didn’t want to touch.

By pure chance, when looking for a place to stay while researching the book in Palin’s home town of Wasilla, he was offered a rental property next door to her. Hardly believing his luck, he said yes — and got a blast of pre-publicity, courtesy of the Palins. Sarah accused McGinniss of wanting to spy on her and her kids; Todd built a wooden fence to obscure any view.

McGinniss was not there to spy on the Palins, even if his location obviously got under their skin. There’s no evidence he ever behaved in any manner but impeccably. But once the news spread, almost everyone he met in Wasilla offered him a gun for self-defence. He declined. As for the alleged threat to Palin’s children, the previous occupants of McGinniss’s house were people in drug rehab, and the basement had been burnt when a makeshift meth lab blew up. Todd Palin should have built that fence when it was really necessary.

And what did McGinniss find? What he found was a climate of fear in Alaska and especially Wasilla with respect to the Palins. The people he met were dozens of folk who had grown up with or worked for the Palins or knew them closely and were prepared to tell the actual story: a woman of no executive skills, bored with government, incapable of mothering, connected to the most extreme versions of evangelical Christianity, invariably in one mood swing or another and vicious and vindictive towards anyone who got in her way.

The gossipy bits of the book — including claims of a fling with a 6ft 8in black basketball star she was “covering” as a sports journalist; an affair with her husband’s business partner; experiments with cocaine and cannabis — will lead the news stories. But the heart of it is more revealing.

He found was a climate of fear in Alaska and especially Wasilla with respect to the Palins Palin seems consumed with ambition but strangely uninterested in the business of government, or indeed any deep knowledge of any difficult subject at hand. She never drops a grudge. She sees no distinction between public office and private gain. She has lived a lonely life as an adult teenager, coming straight from work to skulk in her room, taking trips to department stores rather than go to meetings, her children largely left to fend for themselves. It is, in fact, a pitiable profile of a lost soul — who combines white-knuckle delusions with the most bizarre practices and doctrines of the “dominionist” movement, seeking to expand Christian control over a secular society. Yes, she believes in witches — she had herself protected from them by a minister in her old church.

And, yes, the story of her last pregnancy is so bizarre it deserves a full chapter. She declared it at seven months, to universal disbelief from everyone, including her own staff. It is rare that a governor’s pregnancy is immediately dismissed as impossible on the record in the local paper by her political colleagues. Photos of her in this period are rare (a handful exist and in some of them she barely looks three months pregnant).

At eight months she agreed to fly to Texas for a speech. At 4am in a Texas hotel her waters broke, she says. Nonetheless, she gave the speech at noon, full of jokes, writing in her book the unforgettable sentences: “Big laughs. More contractions.”

She then refused to go to the nearby children’s hospital to deliver a child who was already diagnosed with Down’s syndrome but travelled all the way back to Alaska to her local hospital, on two long-distance flights. The flight attendants are on record as having no idea she was close to giving birth. Two days later she was back at work. Months later she was holding up this precious child, Trig, at the Republican convention like a scene from The Lion King.

I’ve never believed this story. But the real one remains a mystery. What we do know is that refusing an abortion with a Down’s syndrome child was critical to her gaining political altitude with the Tea Party base. Maybe McGinniss’s book will finally force Palin to produce the medical records to prove her maternity. I first asked for them in September 2008. So far, nothing.

Does this mean she truly is over, as the somewhat embarrassed Beltway has long insisted? It’s possible, but she must know that if she doesn’t run, her 15 minutes are up. And Palin tends to want every second of them. In my judgment she could well use the McGinniss book as classic jujitsu: she’ll claim she is being attacked again by the liberal elites and turn that to her advantage by declaring she’s running to defeat them. That’s a message the base adores.

As the shine comes off Rick Perry a little, as Mitt Romney treads water and as Michele Bachmann appears to be fading fast, Palin has an opening. One reason I suspect she’ll take it is that she recently joined the growing attacks on Perry, one of her closest political allies in the past (that was his conference when her waters broke), calling him a purveyor of “crony capitalism”. If she were to pole-vault off the new book to run as a candidate-as-victim, Republican politics could be hopelessly scrambled.

Stay tuned. Turbulence ahead.

Firedog Lake: Here’s the full transcript

I’ve never had two hours fly by so fast. It was a lot of fun, and I answered as many questions and responded to as many comments as time allowed.

You can find it all here

My thanks to Phil Munger of Progressive Alaska for a great job of hosting and moderating.

Firedoglake Book Salon Sunday 5 pm EDT

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Joe McGinniss, The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin

Author: Joe McGinniss
Sunday, September 25, 2011 1:55 pm Pacific time
Welcome Joe McGinniss, and Host Phil Munger “EdwardTeller”, (Progressive Alaska)

The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin

Host, Phil Munger:

Longtime journalist and award-winning author Joe McGinniss’ newest book, The Rogue, is the latest – but by no means last – book about Sarah Palin. Palin is not only the most famous Alaskan in history, she has uniquely combined political activity, celebrity, motherhood, grandmotherhood, a spousal relationship, borderline religious beliefs, professional victimhood, the American gossip universe, pop culture, legal obfuscation, new media and social networking. Increasingly known for being thin-skinned and somewhat lacking in spatial awareness, Palin, more than any American politician in a generation or so, almost begged McGinniss – or any investigative author – to move next door.

The Rogue is constructed around Joe McGinniss’ 2010 summer stay on the shores of Lake Lucille. His introduction to the ambience of Wasilla is lengthened by over a page, as he lists all the churches in the greater Wasilla area – about 50. He even misses some that are hard to find for one reason or another.

The chapters alternate between retelling the meetings, interviews, encounters, conversations, emails, hate mails, visitors and narrowly avoided altercations as they roll by, and looks back at Palin’s rise. The looks go back into her family’s background, before Sarah Palin was born. McGinniss throws a lot of fresh light and detail onto available biographical information about both the Heath family into which she was born, and the Palin family, into which she married. He adds quite a bit of important new information too. The looks back eventually merge with the present as it was when McGinniss finished the manuscript early this summer:

“This may be a strange thing to say in [opening] the last chapter about the star performer of the circus. But no matter how much my book sales might benefit from a Palin presidential campaign in 2012, I sincerely hope that the whole extravaganza, which has been unblushingly underwritten by a mainstream media willing to gamble the nation’s future in exchange for the cheap thrill of watching a clown in high heels on a flying trapeze, is nearing its end.”

In a review at the Euro-American Palin-centric blog, Politicalgates, Blueberry T has provided a fairly brief chapter-by-chapter synopsis. The subjects that seem to be brought up repeatedly by those interviewing the author this past week have centered around Palin’s two best-known sexual escapades (one pre-marital), the perception that McGinniss’ move next door was unseemly, questions about the birth of Trig Palin in early 2008, and the veracity of his anonymous sources. The author’s book tour interviewers, at least that I’ve reviewed, don’t seem to be interested in how thoroughly McGinniss has documented the fervor of Palin’s over-the-top devotees, nor in the deep ties Palin has had since the early 1990s to domininionist sects.

The author gratefully acknowledges how fully he was able to use the resources and existing material of such Alaska bloggers as Jeanne Devon, Shannyn Moore, Jesse Griffin and others. He also points out the importance of author-journalists such as David Neiwert and Max Blumenthal for their research on Palin’s ties to far-right, white supremacist and millennialist organizations.

On the other hand, McGinniss is wary of the symbiotic relationship media has come to rely upon regarding Palin. He seems to understand that had Alaska’s mainstream media done a better job up through mid-2008, he would have been left without a subject for this newest book.

It is too early to tell what McGinniss has achieved, past writing the easiest to read, most engaging trip yet through the strange world of PalinLand. As the author noted, much contained in the book has been covered before. Not this way, though, and not with this level of humor, wonder, snark and plain curiosity. His coverage of the voluminous hate messages, calls and emails is centered not on him, but on what this means in a larger way. His continual refusals to take guns proffered to him day after day by a succession of some of my longtime friends made me laugh, because he accurately caught my friends’ quirks in a touchingly warm way. Even though you don’t know these people, you’ll probably laugh too, as Joe introduces them, one pistol, shotgun or rifle-offering woman or man after another.

He was notably more charitable toward the vast shortcomings of Alaska society in The Rogue than he had to be when writing about the crazed oil pipeline construction days in his 1980 book, Going to Extremes. At that time, McGinniss’ book was one of several that addressed the wild times of that construction boom, including John McPhee’s brilliant set of sketches, Coming Into the Country. Even though McPhee’s pipeline era book was a masterpiece of tone, narrative and style, his predictions about Alaska’s future held up far less than did those McGinniss made back then.

McGinniss’ implications about what the pipeline meant in 1980 were mostly limited to the future of Alaskan society. Those in The Rogue have as much to do with the future of our fraying, tarnished American fabric.

Kindle Daily Post

Author Spotlight: Joe McGinniss on “The Rogue”
by Kindle Editors on 09/22/2011

Once more unto the breach, dear friends.

Or at least into the maelstrom.

My twelfth book, The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin, is now out from Crown.

Not for the first time, I’m expecting the publication process to be eventful.

Actually, “eventful,” is a euphemism. What I’m expecting are vitriolic attacks from Palin supporters on my character, ethics, reporting and writing skills, wardrobe, haircut, and even the brand of dog food I feed my twelve-year old Norwegian elkhound.

For some reason, my books seem to generate controversy. It started with my first, The Selling of The President 1968, continued through my 1980 book about Alaska, Going to Extremes, intensified with Fatal Vision, reached tragicomic proportions with The Last Brother, my book about the mythic arc of Sen. Edward Kennedy’s career in the 1960’s (as I recall, both Russell Baker and Art Buchwald published attacks on me the same day), and took on international proportions when criminal charges were filed against me in Italy because of The Miracle of Castel di Sangro.

This pattern—and when a phenomenon has continued for more than forty years, it’s hard not to call it a pattern–has occasionally caused me to ask myself: “What is it with you, McGinniss? Why do you keep writing books that you know will make people angry?”

My therapist has suggested that I have a higher than average need for invigoration, and that taking risks in my professional life provides it. I’ve learned not to argue with my therapist (she’s always right), but I’d like to offer an alternative theory: when I set out to write a book, I do so not knowing what the story will turn out to be.

I didn’t know whether Richard Nixon would win or lose the 1968 presidential election. I didn’t know what I’d find in Alaska when I traveled there for the first time in 1975. I didn’t know whether Jeffrey MacDonald was innocent or guilty of the murders of his pregnant wife and two little girls. I didn’t know how I’d wind up feeling about Teddy Kennedy and the carefully constructed Kennedy myth. I had no idea what would happen over the next nine months when I arrived in Italy, speaking not a word of Italian, in late summer of 1996.

Nor did I know how Sarah Palin would react to my moving in next door to her last summer.

My books are shaped by events that haven’t occurred when I start my work. Nothing is predictable, thus everything is volatile. I’ve never started a book with my mind already made up about my subject.

As Flannery O’Connor once said, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”

Often what I say is not what my subject was hoping to hear.

Thus, the sound and fury that often accompanies the publication of a new Joe McGinniss book.

I don’t expect it to be any different with The Rogue.

But as Samuel Johnson once said, “I would rather be attacked than unnoticed.”

So buckle up tight and take a ride on The Rogue roller coaster with me.

The Wild Rumpus

I’m heading for New York this afternoon to start doing publicity for THE ROGUE.

I’d say, “Let the wild rumpus start,” except it’s already well underway.

I look forward to the opportunities I’ll have in coming weeks to address some of the issues raised by critics.

THE ROGUE goes on sale Tuesday.

Dave Weigel of Slate reads THE ROGUE

All an author can hope for is fairness.

Dave Weigel provides it here.

You don’t even know after reading his piece whether he liked the book.

But at least he read it carefully before opining about it.