The hyperbole of Joe McGinniss’ proximity to the Palin family continues apace on two fronts today. First, McGinniss himself decided to grant an interview to NBC’s Today show and Matt Lauer after demanding that ABC leave the premises last week. In the interview, McGinniss goes on offense, offering an absurd rebuttal that even Lauer doesn’t buy and then comparing Sarah Palin’s criticisms of his move to … Nazi Germany? Newsbusters has the transcript:
JOE MCGINNISS: Morning, morning Matt. I wish you were here. And before we even start I need to correct something that I think Janet probably was just simply misinformed about or didn’t understand. I’m standing on this porch right now, where the Palins took a picture of me surreptitiously. They photographed me, standing on my own porch. And what she said in her Facebook page was that I was overlooking their garden and their swimming hole and their bedrooms and whatever. The fact is that I was on the other end of this porch. I don’t know if your camera can pan down there but I was at the other end, as far away from the Palin home as I could get. I was leaning over the fence looking into the vacant lot next door. And what I was doing was talking on the cell phone.
LAUER: I wonder Joe if she wasn’t referring to what you were doing during that-
MCGINNISS: So I’d like to correct, I’d like to correct that right away Matt.
LAUER: Okay I just wonder if, if Governor Palin wasn’t referring to what you were doing at the moment the photo was taken but what you could do from that deck.
In fact, the criticism Palin offered on her Facebook page didn’t relate to the picture at all, but the view offered by the rental property into the Palin’s house. McGinniss attempted a bit of intellectual dishonesty in pretending that the problem arose from a single moment when he used his new balcony, when in fact the Palin complaint addressed the longer-term problem of having an unauthorized biographer with a view right inside their house. But if that was a little bit intellectually dishonest, McGinniss raised the bar with this wildly inept violation of Godwin’s Law:
LAUER: The local Wasilla newspaper, The Frontiersman, published an editorial that read, quote “Those who are fond of Joe McGinniss might remind him, if he doesn’t already know, that Alaska has a law that allows the use of deadly force in protection of life and property.” I mean any regrets to all this? Do you wish you just rented a different house?
MCGINNISS: No. You know what actually what I’ve learned from that, Matt. And what you just recited, it’s very informative. And I think it’s probably a lesson for the American people of the power Palin has to incite hatred and her willingness and readiness to do it. She has pushed a button and unleashed the Hounds of Hell, and now that they’re out there slavering and barking and growling. And that’s the same kind of tactic and I’m not calling her a Nazi, but that’s the same kind of tactic that the Nazi troopers used in Germany in the ’30s. And I don’t think there is any place for it in America.
That’s not just ridiculous, it reveals yet another journalist who has no idea what the Nazis did in Germany. Nazis didn’t issue complaints about the locations of journalists as a tactic. They beat people in the streets in order to intimidate them out of the political process, mainly Communists, but also defenders of the doomed Weimar Republic. They murdered people by the hundreds in the years leading up to their takeover of Germany, and their closest modern equivalent would be the Basiji in Iran. Criticism of the press does not equate in any rational sense to what the Nazis did in Germany, and anyone who thinks it does has either lost all sense of perspective or is, frankly, an idiot.
That doesn’t mean that some of Palin’s defenders haven’t crossed a line. The Frontiersman should apologize for that statement, which was not just needlessly provocative but also completely unnecessary as well. I’m sure Governor Palin understands her property rights just as well as The Frontiersman does, and she’s handling it appropriately by building a bigger fence and exercising her First Amendment right to criticize McGinniss, a right McGinniss appears to have forgotten. He has the right to rent the property if the owner is willing to rent it to him, and the Palins have the right to publicly criticize him for it. That doesn’t require a review of deadly force defenses nor a historically illiterate reference to Nazi Germany.