The Other McCain

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

The Recklessness of Joe McGinniss

Posted on | September 14, 2011 | 21 Comments

Having already discussed his unspeakably vile “Jungle Fever” smear on Sarah Palin, now we learn — via Ace of Spades — that McGinniss expended considerable effort pursuing a story that depicted her father Chuck Heath as having created “a lynch mob mentality.”

Rob Port at Say Anything was contacted by McGinniss because Port’s father was an Alaska State Trooper involved in the investigation of a case where a school teacher molested several girls. The school board fired the principal of the school for failing to take action after receiving accusations against the teacher. Chuck Heath, himself a teacher and evidently a friend of the principal, felt that the principal got a raw deal and protested against the career-destroying termination.

When Rob Port declined to discuss the case (Rob’s father remains good friends with Chuck Heath and the Palin family) McGinniss then forwarded to Rob someone else’s e-mail account of the controversy that including the “lynch mob” accusation, as well as the claim that “Chuck Heath resorted to violence — death threats, veiled threats, verbal violence, the complete disregard for the welfare of the affected children — against board members (women only) who were trying to protect the children of the district.”

McGinniss then told Port that, unless his father was willing to give his side of the story, he would “have to pay attention” to that “version of events.” (Rob has posted the e-mail exchange in PDF form.)

Now, what McGinniss is doing here is a familiar reporting trick, using information gathered from one source as leverage to get further information from another source. But the way he’s going about is reckless and irresponsible. By transmitting a lengthy written account of this story from someone he says was “deeply involved” in the controversy, McGinniss risks exposing his source’s identity. He further runs the risk of a defamation accusation, by transmitting to a third party an accusation against Chuck Heath made to him by his original source.

McGinniss’s publisher will certainly have a lawyer go over his manuscript to ensure that it doesn’t put the publisher at risk of a libel claim. But I guaran-damn-tee you any competent lawyer would have a screaming fit to know that McGinniss had e-mailed to someone else this “lynch mob” story about Chuck Heath. Such things are not done.

Let me explain with a hypothetical example:

Suppose that someone tells me that Joe McGinniss has a habit of purchasing stray cats at the local animal shelter and then ritually torturing the cats to death. Now, if I want to pursue an article about Cat-Killer McGinniss, I can contact the animal shelter and ask if, indeed, he’s made multiple purchases of stray cats. But if the clerk at the animal shelter asks why I want to know this, I can’t tell the clerk about the allegations that McGinniss has inflicted heinous torture on the poor creatures at the Satanic altar in his basement. Because to repeat such unsubstantiated accusations might put me at risk of a slander suit.

OK, so I go down to the county courthouse and try to look up police reports, to see if maybe Joe McGinniss’s neighbors have filed any nuisance complaints about the pitiful howls of stray cats being hideously mutilated during the midnight coven gatherings where McGinniss and his fellow Servants of Darkness offer their bloody ritual homage to Beelzbub. But if the court clerk asks me why I’m searching the archives, I can’t say, “Oh, just trying to find the documentation of the ghastly crimes committed by Joe McGinniss, the Satanic Cat Torturer.” Again, this would put me at risk of a slander suit.

Perhaps the layman might say to a professional journalist in such a (hypothetical) situation, “Why not just start out by asking McGinniss himself if the accusations are true?” And my answer would be, “Of course, he’d deny it. Satanic cat-killers are all notorious liars.” Besides, asking McGinniss himself would tip him off to the effect that someone had spilled the beans on his cult’s rituals, and he’d orchestrate a cover-up which might involve the brutal murder of anyone suspected of breaking the Servants of Darkness oath of silence.

From this hypothetical example, you see what I’m talking about. By forwarding to Rob Port that e-mail chock-full of potentially actionable defamatory statements about Chuck Heath, Joe McGinniss may have put himself in serious legal jeopardy. Beyond that, McGinniss may have compromised his source’s anonymity. If Chuck Heath is the violent lynch-mob leader the source claims, there’s nothing to stop “Lynch Mob Chuck” from putting two and two together, figuring out who this “deeply involved” source is, and then leading his posse of Wasilla thugs on a rampage of violent vengeance against the source.

Rob Port doesn’t seem to get the wild recklessness of McGinniss’s actions in this instance. Instead, Rob reaches a more mundane conclusion: “The moral of the story, though, is that McGinnis is a slime ball.”

And I wouldn’t trust him around cats. IYKWIMAITYD.


21 Responses to “The Recklessness of Joe McGinniss”

  1. Rob
    September 15th, 2011 @ 3:24 am

    I don’t think McGinnis’ actions were as reckless as you think, and given that this was a scandal that embroiled the entire town (admittedly small but still hundreds) what he revealed…wasn’t that revealing.

    What really torqued me was that he was essentially accusing my father of being complicit with Heath (a good man) in poo-pooing child abuse when one of the children abused was my sister.


  2. Did You Know the Word ‘Miscegenation’ Was Invented by Democrats as a Smear? : The Other McCain
    September 14th, 2011 @ 11:25 pm

    […] felt bad about having sex with a black guy?”Really? I mean, really? Never mind. There’s more serious recklessness by McGinniss.Category: Books, Democrats, History, Racism, Sarah PalinComments DaveOSo the Stalker, Joe McGiniss, […]

  3. Anonymous
    September 15th, 2011 @ 3:34 am

    Well, the accusations about Chuck Heath being “violent” and fomenting a “lynch mob mentality” are not the kind of thing I’d repeat the way McGinniss did.

  4. Anonymous
    September 15th, 2011 @ 3:49 am

    So what did you tell the clerk at the animal shelter?
    For the record that not legally slander, slander was a beautiful piece of artfulness, truly wonderful to behold.

  5. Anonymous
    September 15th, 2011 @ 3:53 am

    I’m trying to confirm whether Joe McGinniss has ever denied accusations of being a Satanic cat-torturer.

  6. Garym
    September 15th, 2011 @ 4:16 am

    It amazes me that this lady has the fortitude and continues to rise above the BS and the slime. Normal people, Ace for example, just couldn’t handle all the crap without exploding into a expletive worded tirade.

  7. Rob
    September 15th, 2011 @ 4:43 am

    Fair enough, though it’s not like he published them or claimed they were necessarily fact.

    He was basically threatening me with innuendo to get me to dish more info.

  8. PhilipJames
    September 15th, 2011 @ 6:04 am

    Sarah answered Joe Douchebag by continuing the fight with this…

  9. Anonymous
    September 15th, 2011 @ 6:20 am

    Well I’m convinced. So go ahead and publish and if it comes to it I’ll gladly be a character witness… on second thought that might be less than helpful.

  10. Anonymous
    September 15th, 2011 @ 6:29 am

    Running or not she must keep pounding that paticular drum.

  11. Anonymous
    September 15th, 2011 @ 6:34 am

    Joe McGinniss is the Worst Person Alive. Now that Bin Laden is dead.

  12. The Aged P » Blog Archive » Predictable – UK Telegraph Does Nil Research For Hit Piece On Palin
    September 15th, 2011 @ 8:10 am

    […] methinks Joe McGinniss would fit into the Barclaygraph rather well…..especially after reading this from Robert Stacy McCain.. Tags: Alaska, Daily Telegraph, Liars, McGinniss, New York Times, Nick […]

  13. Datechguy's Blog » Blog Archive » Welcome to the world of the Dying Newspaper New York Daily News Edition
    September 15th, 2011 @ 8:18 am

    […] intelligence and relevance. That’s not allowed in a Palin story. No the story is Joe “Hypothetical cat torturer” McGinniss’ claim that she hooked up with Glenn Rice two decades […]

  14. Lady Liberty 1885
    September 15th, 2011 @ 1:39 pm

    McGinniss better have a good lawyer. Just sayin’.

  15. McGehee
    September 15th, 2011 @ 3:12 pm

    Joe McGinniss is the archetypal Palin-hater that should make all other Palin-haters reconsider their hate.

  16. Joe
    September 15th, 2011 @ 5:13 pm

    If I wrote some crap on guys Michelle Obama fucked before Barack Obama came into her life (so to speak), I suspect there would be some backlash from the left.  But you know something, I wouldn’t bother because so what–it is ancient history and irrelevant.  But those rules of civility do not apply to Sarah Palin.  Anything is fair game for these scumsuckers of the left. 

  17. Jay Tea, Peacemaker | Wizbang
    September 15th, 2011 @ 1:23 pm

    […] Hampshire.) He’s opined twice on the matter — first, he said that Joe The Peeper was “reckless” to the point of being legally liable for libel. Then he took off his pseudo-lawyer hat, put on this dad fedora, said that Joe The Peeper deserved […]

  18. Anonymous
    September 15th, 2011 @ 6:03 pm

    Andrew Sullivan begs to differ.

  19. Fortyniner Dweet
    September 15th, 2011 @ 7:41 pm

    Some say Joe McGinnis is not a Satanic-worshiping, cat-sacrificing, butt-sniffing, low-life, dishonest, smut-peddling pornographer.  At least I think that’s what I’ve heard.  But you couldn’t prove it by me.  Actions speak louder than words, in my opinion, so is it possible?

  20. McGehee
    September 15th, 2011 @ 9:24 pm

    I’ve never seen the two of them photographed together, have you?

  21. Anonymous
    September 16th, 2011 @ 3:06 am

    Does McGinnis swing in the manner that he would be photographed with Sullivan? To avoid slander accusations that was phrased as a question not a statement of known fact. IYKWIMAITYD I am not in any way claiming to have any knowledge of any sexual relationship between those two cretins. NTTAWWT-WASOYTI