A reader writes:
I can understand why some of your readers think McGinniss's move borders on stalking. That said, Palin makes it extremely difficult for journalists - except for the Fox-approved variety - to cover her in more conventional ways. She refuses to do interviews outside the right-wing crew, limits access to speeches, and does her best to keep her records out of reach. She cooperates only with those who are paying her for access or whom she is paying to write and speak for her. What should someone like McGinniss do? She started this game. He's just upped the ante.
There certainly is a valid point to be made about the sorry state of celebrity journalism. From Princess Diana's car crash to Brittany Spears' house surrounded 24/7 by paps, the public has an unseemly thirst for reality TV, celebrity gossip and photos. However, Palin had a high-profile run for the nation's highest elected office before quitting her governor's job for a huge book advance, a cushy Fox "News" commentator job, and a lucrative speaker circuit. She inserts herself into a every public debate, regularly thrusts her family into the public spotlight, and gets paid like a rock star in return. Now, she is learning what celebrities the world over have learned the hard way: there is also cost to that fame and fortune.
Your reader writes: "moving next door is clearly meant to provoke and mock". No, it isn't. What it's meant to do is shake down that little fantasy world that Palin lives in and peddles to her adoring rubes.
Joe the Journalist doesn't have to do anything, and shouldn't. Frankly, he should just sit and look at Russia from his front porch and never even glance in her direction. His presence is enough to shake her. She's already terrified that her little facade will be blown. She's never home, she doesn't raise those children - and if you think she Grandma Palin tills her garden with a heavy toddler strapped to her back, I have ocean-front property in Kansas I'd like to sell you.
McGinniss' real reason for living next door is plain and simple: marketing. What could be better than the subject of your book railing against you day in and day out, on national television. So many writers would salivate at the opportunity to have so much press.
I have never read any of Joe McGinniss’ books about political figures. However, he did write one of the best soccer books of all time - The Miracle of Castel di Sangro. McGinnis spent a year living in Castel di Sangro (which is to Rome what Wasilla is to New York City) in Italy following the local soccer team, befriending some of the players, and getting to know the team owners. The book is a funny, revealing look at soccer, Italian culture, the Mafia, corruption, and the sheer ridiculousness of becoming an obsessed fan.
Did McGinniss “stalk” this team and its players? Did he print all sorts of things that the team would rather not have been published? Did he become too close to his subject matter? I am not in a position to judge. However, the book is also a triumph of journalism of the first order and considered one of the best sports books ever written. Nobody ever accused McGinniss of being anything but a great journalist and story teller.
This type of journalism is an accepted and beloved art form. The fact that McGinniss is now turning his gaze upon Palin makes her supporters nervous not because it is an invasion of privacy but because McGinniss will undoubtedly reveal all sorts of uncomfortable facts about Palin.
You posted those dissents without comment. What do you think, now that you've read them?
I'm with Joe. I want her full phoniness exposed - because the MSM won't do it.
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