Palin Stalker Compares Her to Nazis on Today Show

NBC's Matt Lauer invited on author and new Sarah Palin stalker/neighbor Joe McGinniss to defend his moving in next to the Palin residence in Wasilla, Alaska, on Tuesday's Today show, and the author had the audacity to play the victim as he compared the former Alaskan governor's actions to that of a Nazi. After Lauer noted the author was receiving "death threats" McGinniss screeched "It's a lesson for the American people of the power Palin has to incite hatred and her willingness and readiness to do it." McGinniss went on to say that Palin's use of her Facebook page to condemn McGinniss was the "same kind of tactic that the Nazi troopers used in Germany."

MATT LAUER: But the reaction has gotten a little bit scary. There have been death threats against you. I know the FBI is involved. Wasilla, and Alaska state police. There was a Craigslist posting that asked a question of where in the woods your body would be found over the weekend.

JOE MCGINNISS: Yeah.

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. [audio available here]

The following teasers, set-up piece and full interview were aired on the June 1 Today show:

MATT LAUER: And just ahead more on this saying that good fences make good neighbors.

MEREDITH VIEIRA: Yeah well former Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin has now built a bigger fence around her home because a man writing a book about her has just moved in next door. He says he just needs a place to live but some people are calling him a voyeur and a stalker. We're gonna talk to him about the controversy and Palin's reaction to his move when he joins us exclusively.

...

LAUER: Coming up next. Is he a stalker or is he just doing his job? Why Sarah Palin is not happy about her new next door neighbor. We'll get his side of the story in an exclusive live interview right after this.

...

MATT LAUER: Wasilla, Alaska, is home to former Alaska governor and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and now it's home to one of the most talked about fences in the country, one that separates Palin's home from a best-selling author who moved right next door while writing a book about her. We'll talk to him exclusively in a moment. But first, NBC's Janet Shamlian is in Wasilla. Janet, good morning to you.

[On screen headline: "Love Thy Neighbor? Author Moves In Next Door To Sarah Palin."]

JANET SHAMLIAN: Hey, Matt, good morning. The house behind me is where author Joe McGinniss has moved in for the summer in Alaska. About 30 feet to my right, maybe even less, is the reason he moved here. It's Sarah Palin's home, she is the subject of his upcoming book. So is this just good, immersive journalism or is it stalking? There are opinions on both sides of the fence. Memorial Day in Wasilla, a time when neighbors often picnic and barbecue together. But for Sarah Palin and her new neighbor, there were no such plans. Palin lives in the house with the large windows. To the left, now lives the best-selling author Joe McGinniss.

JOE MCGINNISS TALKING ON THE PHONE: They are the most interesting neighbors I have so far.

SHAMLIAN: McGinniss is writing a book about Palin and in what he says is an effort to get to know his subject, he's gotten physically close, renting the home right next door.

SHAMLIAN TO MCGINNISS: Is this a chapter in your book, living next door to Sarah Palin?

MCGINNISS: Well, it could be, you know, it could well be. It could well be. It certainly gives me an insight into her character that I only had in the and abstract before.

SHAMLIAN: Palin is not happy about it. She posted a picture of McGinnis on his deck on her Facebook page, asking "Wonder what kind of material he'll gather while overlooking Piper's bedroom, my little garden, and the family's swimming hole?" And while Palin is not talking to her new neighbor, she is talking about him to Glenn Beck on Fox News.

(Begin clip)

GLENN BECK: Of course he will.

SARAH PALIN: And you better live my kids alone.

(End clip)

SHAMLIAN: McGinniss says the rental house was an offer he couldn't refuse. $1,500 a month for six bedrooms on the water and just 15 feet from his subject. So what can the author actually see from his rental? Well we can't show you. McGinniss is not allowing any photos of the Palin's home from his property, out of respect, he says, for their privacy. It has all put tiny Wasilla back in the spotlight, where at the local diner they serve up breakfast with a side order of opinion.

GARY TRUITT, WASILLA RESIDENT: She's a public person. She got to expect that and deal with it. Real simple.

SHAMLIAN: If fences do indeed make good neighbors, everything should be fine. When McGinniss moved in, the Palins added on to their fence. It's now 14 feet tall. And in an ironic twist, McGinnis had to add privacy measures of his own to keep out sightseers. The fence between the two properties, some are calling the Great Wall. As for the Palins, there haven't been many sightings over the past few days. Perhaps they've taken a summer rental of their own. Matt back to you?

LAUER: Alright Janet Shamlian in Wasilla for us this morning. Joe McGinniss is with us now exclusively. Joe, good morning to you.

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. And let me, you know for every guy at a diner, like the guy we saw in Janet's piece who said "Hey the Palins are public people and they've got to get over it," there are people on the other side of coin who and Joe they say this is a little creepy. How do you respond to that?

MCGINNISS: Well, you know, creepy is as creepy does. If I lived here and did something creepy, if I did what Sarah Palin is suggesting, that I moved here because I had some desire to do, that would be creepy. The fact is, I would be living in this house if the Palins lived on the moon, Matt. $1,500 a month for a house in Wasilla? I need to be in Wasilla to do my work. Sarah Palin is a political phenomenon. She-

LAUER: So it's just coincidental that you're in the house next door, you're not there simply to observe them?

MCGINNISS: I am not observing them at all. I'm here to talk to people who have known them for 40 years in Wasilla. If I was on the other side of the lake, if I was, I wanted a place that I could afford to stay, that my family could come out. My wife is coming out the day after tomorrow and my daughter, one of my daughters, my three grandchildren are coming out the first week in July. I wanted a place where they could enjoy a little relaxation while I was doing my work. My work is not to sit in this house. I'm only in this house now because I'm doing the, you know, the kind of work the Palins are forcing me to do. I need to be out and talking to people. That's, that's, that's why I'm in Wasilla. And I'm in Wasilla because the people who know the Palins best and who can trace the evolution of the phenomenon that Sarah Palin is, 80 percent of them live here.

LAUER: Well I'm happy to hear you're not there to observe them. Because from that close proximity, you wouldn't be observing them in any form of natural state. Would you? I mean, after all, you are now, if you get to look at them now, you're looking at them knowing that they're, that [they know] you're looking at them. So it's, they, they aren't gonna be behaving naturally I would imagine.

MCGINNISS: I wouldn't know how they behave and I don't care how they behave in their backyard. And I don't care what they do in the privacy of their own home and I don't care what their children do. I care what my children do, I care what my grandchildren do. I couldn't care less about her kids.

LAUER: You, you've obviously gotten some strong criticism from people over on Fox News. I'm sure you're not surprised by that. But words like stalker, voyeur, peeping Tom, you know, is this, does this all fall into the category, Joe, of, of any press is good press, especially when you're, you're perhaps trying to raise some interest in an upcoming book?

MCGINNISS: No, Matt and I'll tell you exactly why and I'll tell you how all this came about. I moved here and didn't tell anybody outside my family that I was moving here. I wanted to tell the Palins directly, personally, face to face, and then hopefully work out with them some accommodation of where we could all live peacefully, if not with great friendship over the course of the next three months or so until Labor Day. Sarah hysterically puts up this Facebook page with all sorts of ugly innuendo, which, which frankly, you know it's revolting, the things that she has caused people to say about me. She has created all the publicity. I didn't expect any publicity at all. I wish she hadn't said a word.

LAUER: Well it's more than revolting. What, the reaction, I'm not talking about Governor Palin. But the reaction has gotten a little bit scary. There have been death threats against you. I know the FBI is involved. Wasilla, and Alaska state police. There was a Craigslist posting that asked a question of where in the woods your body would be found over the weekend.

MCGINNISS: Yeah.

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.

LAUER: I also want to mention, there are two sides to every story. Let me just ask you this, Joe. If the shoe were on the other foot and, and she were writing a book about you and moved in next door, would you build the same fence they built?

MCGINNISS: You know what I would do? I would go over and shake hands and maybe give her a plate of cookies and say, welcome to the neighborhood.

LAUER: Joe McGinniss, thanks for your time this morning. I appreciate it.

MCGINNISS: Thank you Matt.

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.