Archive for October 2011

Madison, Wisconsin radio interview

My half-hour interview with Stu Levitan on Madison’s progressive radio station WXXM is here.

Please see and hear my friend Jay Cross from THE ROGUE

Readers of THE ROGUE will make or already have made the acquaintance of Jay Cross on pp. 86-88.

He’s the total stranger who came to my house on Lake Lucille in spring of 2010 to offer me the keys to his house, in case I needed a safe haven to which I could retreat. Jay also said he’d have a loaded AK-47 waiting for me on his kitchen counter, in case I needed to feel safer.

Now, that’s Alaskan hospitality.

Phil Munger of Progressive Alaska asked Jay, in this interview about anonymous sources and the corruption of Alaska media.

If you’ve ever wondered what “a real Alaskan” looks and sounds like, Jay Cross shows you and tells you, in the comments linked to above.

Phil Munger–also a true Alaskan–offers his own thoughts about the decline and fall of the Anchorage Daily News during the reign of corporate shill executive editor Pat Dougherty.

Believe me, when Jay Cross says your “journalism is crappy,” it is.

My interviews yesterday with FOX in LA and Phoenix

You can see LA here.

And Phoenix here.

How did Sarah Palin happen? Anchorage Daily News editor finally admits the truth

It’s long been obvious to anyone who’s paid attention to the rise of Sarah Palin from mayor of Wasilla to governor of Alaska and beyond that the Anchorage Daily News was her greatest enabler.

By turning a blind eye to her avariciousness, viciousness, venality and incompetence, the ADN allowed her to inflict herself, first on the state of Alaska, and then on the whole of America.

In an Aug. 31, 2008 profile of her, ADN called her, in a headline, “The Joan of Arc of Alaska politics.”

On Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011, in a speech at his alma mater, Baylor University, ADN executive editor Pat Dougherty finally ‘fessed up.

“She has been such a presence for the life of our newspaper,” Dougherty said.

He admitted–for the first time (to my knowledge)–that the ADN promoted Palin out of self-interest.

“Our paper was actually very crucial to the rise of Sarah Palin,” he said.

Lacking context, I can’t say whether he was bragging or apologizing.

But he said, “The relationship between the paper and Palin was actually pretty good…really, we were her strong supporters.”

Dougherty was clearly not apologizing when he said that after John McCain chose Sarah as his running mate, “Everyone in the world was calling…A year after the announcement our paper had 175 million page hits online.”

That was the ADN’s payoff for never telling the truth about Sarah.

It’s precisely the same symbiosis which exists between national mainstream media and Sarah Palin today: as long as she delivers page views, they’ll give her a free ride.

And they’ll attack a book such as THE ROGUE because it does tell the truth about her.

Why do you think Rachel Maddow refused to book me for an interview?

Why did Keith Olbermann, Morning Joe, Stephen Colbert and Bill Maher cancel interviews that they’d already arranged?

Because, like Pat Dougherty at Baylor, they still don’t want to admit that their golden goose is dead.

They still need her. Without her, they’re stuck with Mitt Romney and Herman Cain and 2012 ratings that will slump to dangerous lows.

Consider this, reported by the Baylor Lariat:

“Palin brought in huge hits on the [ADN] website, and today 17 percent of its total revenue is a result of the Internet.”

Any wonder why they didn’t want to pursue the stories about Trig?

Any wonder why they ignored Sarah’s blatant racism?

Any wonder why they never explored her religious extremism?

The Anchorage Daily News was in the business of surviving, no longer in the business of journalism, as it was in 1976, when my wife worked as a reporter there and the paper won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

If there were a Pulitzer for Public Disservice, Pat Dougherty’s ADN would have won it in a walk for every year between 2008 and 2011.

From 2005 to 2008, the ADN was merely negligent and incurious in allowing Sarah to rise like a souffle´.

From 2008 until today, the ADN has prostituted itself in pursuit of a better bottom line.

And its executive editor has finally admitted as much.

My concern is that he doesn’t–even yet–seem to see how wrong it was to so cynically betray his readers.

Mr. Dougherty, if you wonder why so few remain, don’t look at the national economy: look in the mirror.

“She has been such a presence for the life of our newspaper,” he said.

He should have added, “But because she cost us our credibility with our readers, she’s now become a major cause of our death.”

Does anyone care who Sarah Palin endorses for GOP nomination?

And if so, why???

Some Beltway types are so addicted to the page views she provides that they continue to pretend to think she might matter, after saying for the past two years that she didn’t.

But, really?

Sarah reached her “do it or get off the pot” moment two weeks ago, and stood up, flushed her supporters down the toilet, and walked away.

Does anyone think she might still influence even one percent of those likely to vote in GOP primaries?

When history looks you in the eye and you blink, the parade marches on, with all the other clowns clamoring for the attention you once commanded.

You become not even history, but merely a footnote to it.

Although I guess being the single least qualified candidate for national office in the political history of the United States does count for something.

But now?

Who, really, is asking, “What does Sarah think?”

She faced her ultimate moment of truth in the first week of October.

And she cowered from it, turned her back and ran for cover, shouting all the way, “It’s God’s fault! He closed the door!”

You don’t have to be an atheist to laugh at Sarah trying to blame God for her own inadequacies.

The Mama Grizzly turned out to be a Mama Ostrich–sticking her head in the sand, so she wouldn’t have to see what a fool she’d made of herself.

I don’t think she’ll ever be able to look herself in a mirror and acknowledge the extent to which she made fools of the gullible and dimwitted who supported her for the past three years, while she carried out the cynical scam that made her a multi-millionaire, even as it left them high and dry–or low and wet, submerged beneath the sewage of her words.

When MSM gangs up, any pretense of standards disappears

I went to work for the Worcester Telegram in September, 1964.  I left nine months later because I got a job at the Philadelphia Bulletin.

But those nine months were not only the most enjoyable I ever had as a journalist, they were a crash course in ethics and professional responsibility

That’s why it particularly saddened me to learn today that back on Sept. 27, a columnist for the Worcester Telegram wrote the following:

“I’m disappointed with [McGinniss’s] recent and much-hyped book. “ [The]Rogue,” about Sarah Palin. I admit that I haven’t read the book and probably won’t, but I’ve read lots of excerpts and plenty of reviews….The broad consensus is that McGinniss threw together lots of gossip and innuendo to trash Palin…”


The New York Times Company bought the Worcester Telegram in 1999, and my old paper has been a wholly owned subsidiary ever since.

Howie Kurtz, formerly of the Washington Post can call my book “unsubstantiated crap” on CNN without having read it, and Steve Roberts (aka Mr. Cokie Roberts), formerly of the New York Times can agree (also proudly proclaiming not to have read it), but that’s just Beltway b.s., which “insiders” have been spewing about me since THE SELLING OF THE PRESIDENT was published in 1969, because I actually went out and reported on a story that they were too busy scratching each other’s backs to pay attention to.

More than forty years later, nothing has changed. Sarah Palin is simply the latest and most egregious beneficiary of Beltway/MSM unwillingness to go out into America and ask questions.

Why haven’t they done so?

Because for these talking heads, it’s much easier to stay home and spout answers.

Opinions are cheap. Reporting costs money. Thus, the rise of point-of-view blogs, such as Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, Slate and Salon, which practice precious little journalism, but which fatten themselves from feeding on the corpses of those actual journalistic entities whom they are so eager to replace. Cleverness will trump conscientiousness every time, at least for the short term. Profit is produced by “eyeballs,” not sustained consideration.

I understand this 21st century reality as well as anyone.

Technology advancing at warp speed is enabling the visual image to replace the written word as the basic unit of communication.

And I wouldn’t argue that this is a cultural setback: it’s all part of the process of evolution, whatever it is we are evolving towards.

But when a columnist from my alma mater–the Worcester Telegram–trashes THE ROGUE while proclaiming that she hasn’t read it, “and probably won’t,” well, that hurts.


Not so much because she denigrates my work and me without having bothered to read my book, but because to see this sort of abdication of responsility appear in the Worcester Telegram is an affront to the memory of Frank Murphy, Al Marcello, Bill McNamee, Bob Foster, Ray La Roque, Bob Scarborough, Tom Brennan, Marnie Brennan, Terri Lord, Blair Norton, Barbara Norton, Bill Kingsbury, Bill Davis, Al Bartkevicius, Kay Bartlett, Jack Tubert, Frank Wakeen, Roy Mumpton, Paul Johnson, and so many others who taught me what it meant–and should always mean–to be a newspaperman or newspaperwoman.

Lesson One: Don’t write what you don’t know.

Lesson Two: If you do, pretend you didn’t, hope your mistake goes unnoticed, and for God’s sake don’t brag about it.


Yet here we have Dianne Williamson crowing from the rooftop that she hasn’t read THE ROGUE, and doesn’t plan to, yet being permitted by her editors to express an opinion about it.

And people wonder why newspapers don’t matter any more?

Anonymous source in NYTimes today:

From today’s New York Times:

A government official with knowledge of the permitting process who would address the issue only on condition of anonymity said, “It is presumptuous for the company to take on eminent domain cases before there is any decision made.”

Hmm, Janet Maslin, Howie Kurtz, Erik Wimple, etc:  what say you to this?

Life goes on as usual in Double-Standardville.

First foray into right-wing Alaskan radio coming Monday

Next Monday, 9 p.m. EDT and 5 p.m. Alaska time, my oldest Alaskan friend Tom Brennan, author of THE SNOWFLAKE REBELLION and I will be live with Mike Porcaro on KENI radio, Anchorage.

KENI is the Alaskan home of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Mike Huckabee, so any discussion about THE ROGUE promises to be lively.

I invite Sarah and/or Todd to call in if there are any specifics in THE ROGUE that they’d like to discuss or to dispute.

To date, Sarah has not challenged the accuracy of anything I’ve written.

But two weeks after THE ROGUE was published, she announced she would not run for president.

Some call it coincidence.

I also invite Mary Glazier, the leader of Sarah’s Wasilla prayer group in the early 1990’s, to call in so we can discuss her driving witches out of Alaska, and her belief that “God began to speak to [Sarah] about entering politics” during that Wasilla prayer group, thus motivating Sarah to run for a seat on the Wasilla city council.

I’d be most interested in hearing Ms. Glazier’s views about when it was that God realized He’d made a serious mistake.

Tom Brennan–a steadfast conservative and longtime spokesman for Big Oil as director of public relations for ARCO in Alaska–will be on the air with me to correct any misstatements I might make.

Tom and I encourage and will welcome calls from any and all.

Sarah, if you have any complaints to make about THE ROGUE, you’ll never have a better forum.

Chicago Ideas Week

Yesterday’s panel
led to a discussion about “The Future of News,” much more stimulating than the title would suggest.

Credit goes to my co-panelists, and to moderator Rick Stengel, (above left) managing editor of TIME Magazine. Not surprisingly, given that TIME co-sponsored the event, they also covered it.

If I were a more adept downloader, I could probably share with you all a transcript, or a link to the video of yesterday’s panel.

What I can share are panelist Kara Swisher’s comments about Chicago Ideas Week co-chairman Brad Keywell.

Ms. Swisher and Mr. Keywell are two of the most intelligent and provocative people I’ve met this year.

The times they are a-changin’ again–and for the better–and Kara Swisher and Brad Keywell personify the power of the change, and offer hope that despite current hard times, it ain’t over yet for any of us.

Boston Globe Red Sox Story Based on Anonymous Sources

The Globe yesterday broke the inside story of the Red Sox’ epic September collapse.

High up in the piece is this explanation:

“This article is based on a series of interviews the Globe conducted with individuals familiar with the Sox operation at all levels. Most requested anonymity out of concern for their jobs or potential damage to their relationships in the organization.”

So it’s okay for the Globe to base a Red Sox expose’ on anonymous sources, but somehow scandalous when I do the same in THE ROGUE?

The Anonymous Source tracker at The Ink-Stained Wretch keeps daily track of use of anonymous sources by major news organizations dating back to Feb. 10, 2010.

The following 24 news outlets have each used anonymous sources 500 times since then, with the New York Times and Washington Post racking up more than two thousand citations and the Wall Street Journal leading the MSM pack with 7,218.

Yet it was somehow wrong for me to use some unnamed sources, as well as more than sixty named sources, in THE ROGUE?

Hmmm, is that hypocrisy I smell?

Wall Street Journal 7,218
Reuters 5,814
BusinessWeek 4,899
Bloomberg 4,877
New York Times 2,539
Washington Post 2,187
The Associated Press 1,942
Los Angeles Times 1,284
New York Daily News 1,035
AFP 1,004
New York Post 987
San Francisco Chronicle 970
Livemint 954
Economic Times 935
Financial Times 909
Times of India 889
ESPN 810
Reuters Africa 776
Hindustan Times 775
New York Times (blog) 746
Boston Globe 655 585
The Star-Ledger – 523
CNN International 500