Sarah Palin called into Glenn Beck’s radio show this morning to discuss further her new neighbor, author Joe McGinniss, who rented the house next door to the Palins reportedly in order to write a book about them. Palin discusses the practical implications of the matter, among which are the fact that the Palins will have to buy an air conditioner now; they won’t want to leave windows open during the hot Alaskan summer, and they don’t want McGinniss spying on their conversations, either. Maybe the new meme should be Random House causes global warming! At least that might garner a little sympathy from the national media.
Beck wonders whether Todd will lose his cool, no pun intended, as McGinniss continues his research into his new book. Palin dismisses it, sounding quite a bit less concerned about McGinniss’ intrusion in this interview than Beck himself. Palin says that she and Todd attempted to contact the property’s owner to either lease it themselves or buy it outright as a way to prevent exactly this kind of outcome. They couldn’t connect it time to do it, however, and now the Palins will have to build a fence to make sure that McGinniss stays off of their property.
Click on the image to view at The Right Scoop:
Dave Weigel wonders what the fuss is about:
Palin, who has an undergraduate degree in journalism, should understand that articles don’t become untrue when the subjects don’t agree with them.
Has McGinniss gone to an extreme to get a story? Well, we don’t have his side yet — not that this has prevented every other media outlet from typing up Palin’s Facebook post like some lost Gospel. But assuming he’s rented the house near the Palins for some period of time, assuming the Palins know he’s there and that he’s writing a book, then what, exactly, is wrong with this?
Politicians don’t have veto power over who gets to write about them, or how they research their stories, as long as they’re within the bounds of the law. It’s incredibly irresponsible for them to sic their fans on journalists they don’t like. And that’s what Palin is doing here — she has already inspired Glenn Beck to accuse McGinniss of “stalking” Palin and issuing a threat to boycott his publisher.
This is really the ultimate example of the way Palin manipulates the press and inverts the relationship between reporters and politicians, turning the former into “stalkers,” and the latter — as long as they’re Republicans or members of her family — into saints whom no one can criticize. No one in the media should reward Palin for this irresponsible and pathetic bullying.
Perhaps the “stalking” accusation reflects the fact that McGinniss once bid over $50,000 to have dinner with Palin (he was eventually outbid) and his own son’s assessment (meant as sarcasm [see update below]) that McGinniss is indulging a romantic interest in Palin. If McGinniss wanted to write an unauthorized biography, he could certainly do that without moving in next door to the Palins. In fact, it’s hard to figure what McGinniss would learn from that kind of physical proximity that has anything to do with politics or activism that couldn’t be learned through regular research and footwork.
As asinine and incredible as Kitty Kelly’s biographies get, she didn’t need to live next door to her celebrity targets to write them. If it’s not stalking, it’s a very lazy journalism at best. It also seems needlessly provocative, which will undermine the credibility of anything McGinniss has to say later.
None of this is meant as an argument that McGinniss doesn’t have the right to rent a property in which he desires to live, of course. No one is arguing that the police should evict him if he and the landlord have concluded a mutually satisfactory business relationship for the lease. That doesn’t mean that people can’t criticize McGinniss, his motives, his ethics and purpose as a journalist, and what looks like an odd obsession with the Palins. It also doesn’t mean that the Palins will not have to protect themselves from the potential for conflicts and invasion of privacy.
Update: Ben Smith at Politico tells me that the son’s e-mail was meant sarcastically. Ben thought it was obvious and didn’t note it, but I didn’t want to make an assumption.