The awful launch week for the over-hyped, expected bestseller The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin, by controversial author Joe McGinniss, just got worse. Much worse.
After a week of universally scathing pans from the reflexively anti-Palin establishment media, McGinniss now faces the fight of his literary life: the accusation that he seems to have knowingly submitted a book to his publisher, Crown/Random House, that was filled with unproved “tawdry gossip” and rumors that lacked “factual evidence.”
In the email below, sent in January of 2011, McGinniss reveals that his manuscript, then under legal review at Crown/Random House, could not prove its most headline-grabbing allegations. And yet, many of these “salacious stories” that lacked “proof” (in McGinniss’s own words) ended up in the book, and on televisions everywhere during the author’s current media tour … without proper sourcing, and without any apparent new evidence to support them.
McGinniss’s panicked state is evidenced by the identity of the recipient to whom he sent his email of distress. Jesse Griffin was the author of an obscure, low-rent, and now-defunct anti-Palin blog that obsessed over Trig Palin’s maternity–claiming, without any evidence, that Sarah Palin was not Trig’s mother.
Was Random House aware that its prized author was making a desperate overtime bid to save face? And if so, why did it allow him to come forth with most of those tawdry accusations without proof or proper sourcing?
This would not be the first time McGinniss has found himself in trouble over accusations of unethical journalism. In 1987, McGinniss agreed to pay $325,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by the convicted murderer who was the subject of McGinniss’s book Fatal Vision. He has also admitted to having surreptitiously distributed a competitor’s manuscript about Palin that was handed to him by his own publisher. The leak allegedly damaged the commercial viability of that book.
In 2003, Random House released a larger-than-life, massive bestseller by James Frey entitled A Million Little Pieces. Later, it was revealed that the book was a fantastical literary hoax that made its way past some of the highest-paid and most respected editors and lawyers in the literary world. Doubleday/Random House felt compelled to offer full refunds to those who had bought the book.
Has history repeated itself?
Mr. McGinniss has not responded to multiple requests for comment.
From: Joe McGinniss
To: Jesse Griffin
Sent: Thursday, January 27, 2011 6:15 PM
Subject: I have to ask you for help
Legal review of my manuscript is underway and here’s my problem: no one has ever offered documentation of any of the lurid stories about the Palins. Shailey Tripp is the latest example.
APD and Sarah have denied that Todd had any involvement with her. To my knowledge, no one has provided any evidence that he did. TheEnquirer cites AlaskaWTF, which in turn cites the Enquirer: what good is that? I’m also told that the Enquirer is preparing to back off this story and save face by denouncing Ms. Tripp as an unreliable source who promised documentation she couldn’t provide.
She may be mentally unstable and prone to fabrication, delusion, or both. Her joint may be called Blue Hands Massage (brrrrr!), but she’s no Monica Lewinsky with a blue dress with a semen stain, that’s for sure.
Do you believe that Todd paid her for sex? If so, why do you believe that, other than that you wish it were true?
A lurid, sensational, defamatory story about Todd, based only on the account of a woman charged with prostitution, who is no doubt desperate for money, and who sold her story to the Enquirer, is a gift from heaven for Sarah.
Jesse, you can ridicule Sarah for calling in to the execrable Bob & Mark, but the fact is that as far as this story goes, there’s no there there. And rumors about what might come in weeks ahead are not facts. In fact, they’re garbage.
I’ve neither seen nor heard anything that indicates that Ms. Tripp’s story has any basis in fact. None of the endless crap Patrick posted about her before getting the boot from palingates.com offers any substantiation.
And even you write frequently that you know things you can’t yet post, but that soon “all will be revealed.” This has been going on since I first became aware of your blog, but as far as I know you haven’t substantiated a single claim or provided verification for a single rumor that you’ve posted about Sarah’s personal life, or the personal lives of any Palin family members. Thus, she gets to denounce what she calls “lies.”
Neither from you, the Enquirer, AlaskaWTF, palingates.com or anyone else, have I seen a credible, identified source backing any of the salacious stories about the Palin family.
Thus–as Random House lawyers are already pointing out to me–nothing I can cite other than my own reporting rises above the level of tawdry gossip. The proof is always just around the corner, but that’s a corner nobody has been able to turn. Maybe Jeff Dunn has, in which case I’ll be the first to congratulate him. But frankly, at this point, I’m tired of it, and I’ve run out of time.
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.
Jesse, you were going on and on about Bristol being pregnant while doing Dancing With The Stars. And, if I recall correctly, at the time of her brief glossy-magazine-payday “reunion” with Levi, you surmised that she was pregnant by Ben Barber, or at least by someone who wasn’t Levi. You’ve recently suggested she’s had an abortion, publishing photographs that show her chubby then and thin now. But doesn’t that seem a little “thin” to you, based on nothing besides magazine pictures?
So much has bubbled at the salacious rumor stage for more than two years, but no one has been able to take even one story further.
Jesse, if you can put me in touch with people who are willing and able to substantiate any of the above, now is the time to do so. Otherwise, I hope you won’t complain that there are no startling new revelations in my book. My publisher and I think it’s damning enough without airing the family’s dirty laundry, but because Sarah’s hypocrisy about her family is one of the things that galls me most, I’d like to be able to publish facts in regard to a) through f) above, but I emphasize facts.
Not malicious speculation or third-hand rumors relayed by those who hold a grudge.
For any or all of those who’ve told you they’ll speak out, but not yet, now is the time. My book represents the last best chance to put the truth about Sarah in front of the American people in a documented, verifiable way. But I need facts that I can rely on. I didn’t live this long and work this hard over so many decades to wind up as AlaskaWTF between hard covers.
as always, and looking forward to seeing you in spring or summer,