The McGinniss E-mails

The McGinniss E-mails

The McGinniss E-mails

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 23 2011 10:28 AM

The McGinniss E-mails

Yesterday, Andrew Breitbart published a January 27 e-mail from The Rogue author Joe McGinniss to blogger Jesse Griffin, one of the Palin critics whose work McGinniss looked at as he reported the book. This is the meat of it:

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a reporter for the Washington Post. 

No one has ever provided factual evidence that:     
a) Todd had sex with a hooker, or with anyone else outside his marriage.     
b) Sarah had an affair with Brad Hanson, or anyone else.     
c) Track was a druggie who enlisted in the army to avoid a jail term. Or that he vandalized Wasilla school buses.     
d) Willow was involved in the vandalism of the empty house in Meadow Lakes. Or that Sarah rushed back from Hawaii to put the lid on that.     
e) Trig is not Sarah’s natural born child.    
f) Bristol was promiscuous as a high schooler and drank and used drugs, or became pregnant again after Tripp’s birth.
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The whole e-mail reveals McGinniss explaining to Griffin that he won't run with some rumors that he can't confirm. In the book (I summed it up here), McGinnis handles different stories with different gloves. The allegation that Sarah Palin had an affair with Brad Hanson is presented as goosip that several sources believe. The Trig chapter is a rundown of blog posts and articles with theories about what was wrong with the story of Palin's youngest child; McGinniss ends it by writing that only a sociopath could fake something like this. What he doesn't say: Palin did it. There is wiggle room, and Crown, the RH subsidiary that published the book, has put out this response:

Joe McGinniss’s book The Rogue is based on the author’s extensive on-the-ground reporting in Alaska, as well as in-depth interviews he conducted with approximately 200 people who have known Governor Palin at different stages of her life and career. After a thorough and careful examination of the book, including probing discussions with the author about his sources, we are confident that the reporting it contains is solid, reliable, and well-substantiated.

I checked in with McGinniss largely to ask what he discovered from the time he sent the e-mail to the time he turned in the manuscript. "I continued my reporting into June of this year," he says, "almost six months after I asked Griffin for his help in getting anonymous sources to go on the record--because I always knew the book would be criticized for using unnamed sources, although Woodward and Bernstein were heralded for keeping Deep Throat anonymous for so long, and despite the fact that almost every day the NYT and/or WaPo publishes a story containing quotes from 'a source who requested anonymity because...'

One of the loose threads in the McGinniss-Griffin e-mail is the fact that McGinniss was in contact with a prostitute who, he'd heard, might have slept with Todd Palin. McGinniss shared these e-mails between himself and the woman, Shailey Tripp.

Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2011 10:16:20 -0500

Shailey,
I've finished my Palin book, THE ROGUE:  SEARCHING FOR THE REAL SARAH PALIN, to be published in September, but I still have time to add important info.  I've been in touch with Jesse and I heard your interview with him.
If you have material you think I should include, please advise soonest.  But Random House lawyers will  require documentation.  I can believe you from the bottom of my heart, but so far there is only your unsupported word about a) your three-year connection with Todd and b) Sarah not seeming pregnant in early 2008 and her signing a form that said she was not pregnant.  
If you can provide documentation, I may still be able to use your information in my book.
In any case, all best wishes,
Joe McGinniss
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Later:

[from Shailey, March 26:]
Actually no, I am not. I did interview with AP Anchorage and a few other news sources I can not disclose but that was weeks ago. I am selling emails and people are bidding on them. I don't know if it will help your book.

Shailey

AND:

Date: Sat, 26 Mar 2011 14:37:11 -0400

Shailey,
Is this anything that will lead to something I might be able to get into the book?
I assume you are somehow involved.
Hope you're well,
Joe

"She was not able to provide documentation or credible supporting witnesses, so nothing she told me was included in The Rogue," says McGinniss. Why keep so many sources anonymous, though? "My anonymous sources are afraid of getting their heads blown off. The Palins are infamous for vengefulness and lack of impulse control.  Look at the crazy lies she spewed about me last summer--virtually calling me a pedophile just for daring to move in next door.  Imagine what she and Todd might try to do to anyone who put their name tag on her dirty laundry."

McGinniss, brushing aside the accusations, says the book holds up and could not have been written any other way.

"I go to where the story is," he says. "I don't sit in my office and pass judgments designed to get me air time on Sunday mornings. That's what I've done since I started work at the Port Chester (NY) Daily Item in 1962. I work sources. That’s called journalism. It's not always pretty, but without it, all we'd be reading are ghost-written celebrity memoirs. The homicide detectives I've gotten to know over the years have told me that their line of work isn't always fun either.  But it's a necessary part of the effort required to keep our society from becoming any more dysfunctional than it already is. It’s been so long since any of the Beltway Bloviators practiced actual journalism that they apparently don’t recognize it when they see it."

David Weigel is a reporter for the Washington Post.