The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

The Joe McGinniss Method

Posted on | September 24, 2011 | 23 Comments

Big Government has a statement from Sarah Palin’s brother, Chuck Heath Jr., in which he calls Joe McGinniss’s book as “one lie after another.” What intrigued me was Heath’s description of how McGinniss “included in his book comments falsely attributed to me by one of his unnamed sources” and didn’t even ask Heath if he’d actually said what the “sources” said he had said.

This is journalistic malpractice of the worse sort.

If Person X tells you that Person Y said something derogatory about Person Z, you cannot publish this derogatory statement, attributed to Person Y, based on the hearsay assertion of Person X, especially when you name Person Y and Person Z but grant Person X the cloak of anonymity.

This is to allow an anonymous source (X) to accuse Y of defaming Z.

Under the Sullivan precedent, a public figure like Sarah Palin would have a hard time prosecuting a libel suit against McGinniss, but Chuck Heath Jr. is not a public figure. So for McGinniss to accuse Heath of badmouthing the Palins, based on hearsay from an anonymous source, is a dangerous thing, from a legal perspective. And it’s just plain despicable, from an ethical point of view.

The recklessness of McGinniss is astonishing, as is the irresponsibility of Random House in publishing such shoddy work.

UPDATE: In reference to some of the comments below, I am will state as a fact that McGinniss’s tale about Sarah Palin and Glenn Rice is a lie. While I offer no source for this statement, permit me to explain the dynamics of this particular situation, for which McGinniss and Random House are entirely responsible.

Notice that Glenn Rice has said nothing — not one word — about McGinniss’s book since its publication. Does that not strike you as curious?

Further notice that McGinniss did not merely claim that Sarah Palin had a one-night stand with Rice. He attributes to an anonymous “friend” of the Palins this quote: “Sarah and her sisters had a fetish for black guys for a while.”

So the alleged tryst with Rice is, according to McGinniss’s source, merely the tip of a massive iceberg of ”Jungle Fever” also involving Sarah and her sisters Heather Heath Bruce and Molly Heath McCann. Does it strike you as odd that no other Palin-hating liberal journalist has ever made such a claim? Or that no witness has stepped forward in the past two weeks to vouch for the truth of this widely publicized claim by McGinniss?

Remember that we’re talking about Alaska, a state with a population smaller than some medium-sized cities, where a mere 3.3 percent of the population is African-American.

According to the anonymous “friend” quoted by McGinniss, all three Heath sisters were carrying on “for a while” like Lili Von Shtupp with Sheriff Bart in Blazing Saddles: “It’s twue! It’s twue!”

Well . . . NTTAWWT and YMMV, but we may suppose that such behavior would have been so widely known in Wasilla that McGinniss could have found more than one “friend” to say it, and that somehow this alleged “fetish” of the Heath sisters might have been reported by some of the other journalists who’ve made the pilgrimage to Wasilla in search of anti-Palin anecdotes.

As Sherlock Holmes might observe, that dog hasn’t barked, has it?

Toby Harnden of the London Daily Telegraph calls McGinniss’s uncorroborated ”fetish” tale what it really is: A dishonestly underhanded way of playing the race card against Sarah Palin.

McGinniss made this lurid accusation knowing full well that if Sarah (or her sisters) were to deny it, this would give Sarah’s enemies a chance to exclaim, “A-ha! That proves it! She’s a racist!”

Sarah and Todd have said nothing about this. But it’s kind of strange that no reporters have gotten any comment from Glenn Rice, nor have any of them attempted to verify McGinniss’s false “fetish” smear on the Heath sisters.

UPDATE II: The complete absence of standards — the “By Any Means Necessary” ethos of Palin-haters — prompts John Nolte’s remark:

If you want to know why the Hollywood blacklist against conservatives is real and why Hollywood conservatives stay in the closet, look no further than The Stephen Hanks Management Company.

Bingo. And the same implacable hatred of conservatives also pervades academia and journalism, so that whether you seek to engage in the war of ideas through entertainment, education or journalism, the conservative communicator is always surrounded by remorseless enemies.

Bruce Bawer does a delightful parody of McGinniss.

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Comments

  • James Banzer

    You are 100% correct about McGinniss. He is shoddiness personified. He’ll probably make a lot of money, and that will encourage him to go write another book, this time about Rick Perry or some other person who is not liked by the left.

  • DaveO

    This could work!

    Considering Random House’s owners, and McGinniss want to engage the Palins in a costly, subversive lawsuit, having her brother sue them on his own behalf may undermine the publishers and author’s intent.

    And, Chuck Heath Jr. may not be the only person defamed. Class action suit?

  • Quartermaster

    The Sullivan precedent is unconscionable. Just because a person is a public figure does not change the nature of defamation. A public figure has more to lose and making a defamation suit harder solves nothing. It simply deprives someone of their day in court. The 1st amendment is not upheld in any way by the Sullivan doctrine.

    The Supreme Court, alas, is the supreme scoff law.

  • http://thepagantemple.blogspot.com/ ThePaganTemple

    I want to hear exactly what Glen Rice has to say before I go out on a limb and say its all lies, but its pretty obvious this book was intended as a hit piece. And even if the story about Rice is true, I don’t really give a shit. That was years and years ago, and for that matter, it doesn’t prove a damn thing. So she had sex with some guy before she and Todd were married. I’m not buying the whole meme about how this proves she’s a hypocrite for promoting family values and abstinence before marriage. That’s like saying an ex-drug addict doesn’t have a right to warn kids to stay off drugs.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ICUSM5QH2DC5LSQLWUEBLHCPMA anthony

    Glenn Rice never admitted to anything in the book.    Joe inferred the was a relationship.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ICUSM5QH2DC5LSQLWUEBLHCPMA anthony

    Everything Joe said is complete B.S.    If there was any serious hookups before her marriage especially to former NBA star, it would have definitely came out in the Presidential campaign.      

  • http://ace.mu.nu/archives/279942.php Andrew Sullivan

    Well you have to forgive McGinniss because it is Palin.  Don’t you know, rules of fairness do not apply when it comes to bad mouthing the Palins?  We litterally obsess about her all the time. 

    Look at me. 

  • Anonymous

    Effing Breitbart! How does he work?

    J.

  • http://thepagantemple.blogspot.com/ ThePaganTemple

    Why would it have come out if nobody knew anything about it? The point is, its not important. It doesn’t matter. Leaving aside the fact that its really nobody’s business to begin with, outside the principles involved, its playing right into the Democrats and McGinniss’s hands to make out like it does matter. They’re just dying for Republicans, especially Christian conservatives, to get all outraged and scream “there’s no way Sara would do that with a-with a-with a-with a BASKETBALL PLAYER!”

    Don’t you see? The point, as far as leftists are concerned, isn’t whether the story is true or not, the point is how you react to it.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ICUSM5QH2DC5LSQLWUEBLHCPMA anthony

    What your supposing is Joe is great reporter.     Again what the rumor was according to Joe’s book was they were friendly according to unnamed sources which I believe is quite possibly.     Joe was the one who inserted sex through innuedo.   In fact, Joe admitted he never even ask Glenn Rice if there friendships was  sexual in any way.        Believe me, no stone goes unturned during a national campaign.

    What Joe did was create new accusation to simple sell books and gain attention.

  • http://twitter.com/Weirddave0 Dave

    PT, it’s not even that, it’s simpler and almost funny. The libtard left is so utterly convinced of it’s own narrative that it acts irrationally.  They think we’re all racists, we just are. Any we say to the contrary, anything we do that demonstrates that we aren’t…it’s all just a lie, a BIG LIE! I firmly believe that McGinniss (along with his fellow travelers Olbermann, Maddow, Garofalo, etc) honestly thought, utterly believed, just KNEW, damnit, that the reaction on the right to the Glen Rice allegation would be (apologies for the vile language, I’m trying to convey what they thought we would think, IYKWIM) “OMG! Sarah Palin fucked a nigger!!!! Unclean! Unclean!” and that we would reject Palin utterly en mass because she had allowed the precious flower of her virginal white maidenhead to be violated by a subhuman specimen of the negroid race. Utter bollocks, of course, you know it, I know it, but I don’t think that they know it. They are deeply convinced, on a visceral level, that that’s how we think, and I bet they though that they finally had the stake for the heart of the Palin vampire in this allegation. I bet that many of them are puzzled that it didn’t work like that. Truly puzzled, because of course their assumptions can’t be wrong, so why aren’t we reacting like the troglodytes that we are?

  • http://thepagantemple.blogspot.com/ ThePaganTemple

    Exactly, Dave, you hit the nail on the head. Well, the stated purpose of it was to point out her supposed “hypocrisy”, but the hidden, unstated, real reason is exactly what you said. We’re all supposed to be so disgusted at the thought of Sara getting it on with a black guy it was assumed we would just turn against her, and that would not only be the end of any potential future in politics, it would perhaps even more importantly spell the end of her as any kind of influence at all. After all, those racist Tea-Party groups sure aren’t going to pay her any money to give a speech, or take her advice when she speaks for or against anything, or listen to her when she endorses a candidate. In fact, they probably figured no one from that point on would welcome her endorsement, and would in fact shun such an endorsement. It’s all so obvious what the intention was, its almost sickening and funny at the same time.

  • Anonymous

    That may be the best way to target McGinniss legally – with a non-public figure plaintiff.  I’m convinced that once-respected publishers such as Random House do not limit themselves to a legal analysis when accessing possibly defamatory statements re super-public figures such as Sarah Palin; in borderline cases, they also add practical considerations to the analysis.  They know that defamation plaintiffs concerned with their public image necessarily call attention to the original defamation (and will be mocked for it); they know that the plaintiff will be characterized as “playing the victim” and that news stories of the lawsuit will drown out stories about a politician-plaintiff’s substantive achievements and policy positions.

    Thus, even in the 1 in 10,000 case in which a publisher transgresses the incredibly defendant-friendly “actual malice” standard in public-figure defamation cases, they figure, rightly, that they’ll almost certainly get away with it.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ICUSM5QH2DC5LSQLWUEBLHCPMA anthony

    Olbermann actually defended Sarah on these accusation.      It’s not the race issue.   Joe is trying to sexualize Sarah.     During the campaign, they were never able to dig up any sex stories on Sarah.     I assuming because they weren’t able to find any.  Believe me if they could have they would have.     She is obviously a nice looking women, and the press would have love the opportunity to speak with past lovers if they would have.    
    Again, Joe was not trying to report actual news.    He is simply out to slander her.    And to assume the story’s truth,  he are giving he credit for digging up something no one else has found.   He is simply not credible.     

  • Anonymous

    I’m sure the research for the book went something like this.
    “Stalking the Dark Lady: An Investigative Journalist’s Tale”

    http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/stalking-the-dark-lady-an-investigative-journalists-tale/

  • Left Coast Red

    Classic lib ‘nuts and sluts’ attack.

  • http://thecampofthesaints.org Bob Belvedere

    Emphasis on ‘litter’ in the way you spell literally.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ICUSM5QH2DC5LSQLWUEBLHCPMA anthony

    Right on McCain on your follow-up response.     I believe the lies is more insidious than just race.    Joe is implying she is some sort of a slut groupy.   Joe is beyond repair.       As I have said below, he is attempting to sexualize her.          

  • http://www.riehlworldview.com/carnivorous_conservative/2008/09/sullivan-shoots.html Andrew Sullivan

    You must be a hater and a Christianist for defending that Palin! 

  • CalMark

    These scum turned her life over every way possible in 2008–they even dug through her garbage.  How is it even possible that any secrets still remain?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MJGP4QXZ5PRW2MFA5E25CV2WNU rosalie

    And have they ever found O’s past girlfriends?  He had to have some relationships along the way.  I wonder how much they were paid to keep quiet?

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