It’s terrible that an author got death threats, even if he’s a sleazy hack who invaded the privacy of a prominent conservative politician. It’s equally terrible that prominent conservative donors received death threats for how they choose to use their money. But according to NBC, only one of those two stories is worth telling.
In the first case, the network was warning in 2010 of death threats against Sarah Palin-sliming author Joe McGinniss. As for the second, NBC ignored reports of death threats against the libertarian Koch brothers and members of their foundation.
In 2008, NPR's All Things Considered tried to take apart the "swift-booking" of Barack Obama by conservative author Jerome Corsi, insisting in several places "we know" Corsi's reporting wasn't factual. On Friday's All Things Considered, NPR media reporter David Folkenflik took a looser standard in publicizing the Palin-bashing book by liberal author Joe McGinniss. Folkenflik eventually found book experts who disdained the difference between a "warts and all" book and an "all warts" book. But none of the book's claims were held up individually as false. It just on the whole "felt unreliable."
This leads the listener to wonder what might be true: Palin's cocaine-snorting, the premarital sex with NBA stars, the neglect of her children? Which? Folkenflik brings up McGinniss's tawdry publicity stunt, renting right next to the Palin home in Wasilla, running some mini-soundbites of outrage from conservative talkers like Sean Hannity ("creepy") and Bill O'Reilly ("immoral"). But Folkenflik tweeted Friday "How rascally is the writer behind 'The Rogue'?" All in all, the stunt was a plus:
For the second week in a row since returning from his summer hiatus, it didn't take HBO's Bill Maher long to begin attacking conservatives.
Roughly one minute into his opening monolog on Friday's "Real Time," the host mocked Texas governor Rick Perry's performance at Thursday's presidential debate and disgustingly quipped, "Sarah Palin was watching and she said, 'If only he was black, I'd f--k him'" (video follows with transcript and commentary, vulgarity alert):
While CNN gave two tough interviews to Palin-bashing author Joe McGinniss, HLN's Joy Behar joked around with him on her Wednesday show. She referenced his newest tome on Sarah Palin and her family, full of nasty gossip and rumors, and jokingly asked "What, do you have a death wish, Joe?"
In the previous segment, Behar had made fun of Rush Limbaugh's past drug abuse in her interview with Levi Johnston. "Your mother was selling Oxycontin?" she asked Johnston. "What's she – what's up with that? Does she know Rush Limbaugh?"
On Monday's Piers Morgan Tonight, author Joe McGinniss blamed Sarah Palin and her family for inciting the death threats made against him. After he moved in next door to the Palins, something he called a "non-issue from the start," he claimed that Sarah Palin "incited that hatred" of death threats made against him for writing a critical book of her.
"The Palins march right up to the border of inciting violence, and stop there and then stand back and say, we had nothing to do with it, if anything happens to anybody," McGinniss told Piers Morgan. CNN granted the author almost 20 minutes of air-time in two separate interviews Monday and Tuesday.
Palin-trashing author Joe McGinniss is booked for several TV interviews this week. The New York Times reports the list includes Morning Joe, The View, The Joy Behar Show, and The Colbert Report. On CNN's Reliable Sources, Howard Kurtz added Piers Morgan Tonight. "TV seems to have the idea that if it's a book, if it's between hard covers, it has a certain stature that allows it to be covered, but there are a lot of crappy books out there."
Wrong. Tabloidish books about Barack Obama have generally not been featured like McGinniss. But Steve Roberts, a former Washington bureau chief of The New York Times and husband of TV journalist Cokie Roberts, actually argued on CNN that Palin somehow "bears some guilt here" for these tabloid tales, since she's become a celebrity and starred in a reality TV show:
NBC may have lowered itself to an "exclusive" interview with author Joe McGinniss today -- something they did NOT do in 1993 when McGinniss drew universal condemnation for a sleazy Ted Kennedy biography titled The Last Brother. But Garry Trudeau has devoted almost a week now to spreading McGinniss gossip in his Doonesbury comic strips, with all the worst charges: she slept with NBA star Glen Rice, she fired all her "dark-skinned" employees, she wore push-up bras to get what she wanted, and she was an airhead who wanted to shop all day.
This tabloid sleaze is not new for Trudeau: twenty years ago, he devoted his strip to recounting allegations made by a prisoner named Brett Kimberlin (also known as "The Speedway Bomber") who claimed he sold Vice President Dan Quayle marijuana in the 1970s. Trudeau didn't care that Kimberlin was convicted of perjury in 1974 for lying about -- drugs. Notice how Trudeau's strips again have a misogynist anti-Palin flavor:
NBC's Today touted an "exclusive" interview Thursday with Sarah Palin stalker and author Joe McGinniss, smearing the former governor with unsubstantiated allegations. NBC didn't try to prove them. They just spread them. Fill-in co-host Savannah Guthrie proclaimed: "Stunning allegations made about Sarah Palin in a bombshell book. Is she really the hockey mom she claims to be? How strong is her marriage to Todd?...Does she use her children as props?" [Audio available here]
McGinniss, promoting his newly released book that amounts to an anti-Palin screed, declared the former Alaska governor to be "An utter fraud. An absolute and utter fraud." Guthrie responded: "You call her a tenth grade mean girl." McGinniss went further: "Oh, that's – those are kind words compared to a lot of what you would hear in Wasilla today. The thing that I found, Savannah, that really surprised me, was that the people who know her best like her least."
For those of you who don’t know Joe McGinniss, he’s the “journalist” who– unaware of the difference between Dian Fossey and Bob Woodward — made the ridiculously creepy decision to move in next door to the Palin family in order to intimidate and gain attention for himself research his upcoming hit-job “The Rogue.” According to Politico, he’ll be one of many during this campaign season using the obscene tactic of weaponizing Palin’s very own children as political bludgeons against her.
Norah O'Donnell, on Monday's Today, couldn't resist taking a couple of shots at Sarah Palin, in her review of the former Alaska governor's TLC reality show, as the NBC correspondent trumpeted a recent Gallup poll that "More than half of Americans, 52 percent view her negatively, making her the most divisive of all of the potential candidates in the 2012 Republican field." O'Donnell also aired a clip of a Tribune staff reporter complaining that TLC was "effectively giving a campaign advertising" to a 2012 aspirant, as if the eight-part series could even come close to matching the positive buzz the current Oval Office occupant received from the liberal media in 2008.
The theme of Palin's popularity got a jump start, at the top of the show, as Today co-anchor Matt Lauer teased the upcoming segment this way: "Sarah Palin's new reality show debuted last night at a time when a new survey shows 52 percent of Americans hold a negative view of the former Alaska governor." In her segment O'Donnell featured clips from the reality show throughout her report, including one that featured Palin's description of husband Todd building a fence to hide their house from the prying eyes of investigative journalist/stalker and one time Today show guest Joe McGinniss. After that soundbite O'Donnell then proceeded to feature another Palin critic, Karl Rove. His criticism and her response are seen in the following excerpt:
It seems no section of the newspaper is free of bias and/or political cheap shots.
Take today's Local Living section of the Washington Post, whose "on gardening" feature writer Adrian Higgins blasted "Sarah Palin's... wrong to the landscape"* in the form of the 14-foot-tall wooden fence she erected between her Wasilla, Alaska, property and an adjacent lot rented by author Joe McGinniss:
Do bad neighbors make bad fences? I've seen a few fences in my time, but none quite as defiantly ugly as the one now shielding Sarah Palin and her family from what she suggests are the prying eyes of her new neighbor, an author named Joe McGinniss.
After having already used her appearance on Wednesday’s The View show on ABC to defend author Joe McGinniss’s claim that Sarah Palin was acting like a Nazi trying to intimidate him, Joy Behar again defended McGinniss on the same day’s Joy Behar Show on HLN, and suggested that Palin is responsible for making her children into targets for daring to let the public see her family – as most politicians do – while she was running for Vice President. Behar: "The other thing is that isn`t she the one who put her kids in the spotlight in the first place? I mean, they, at the convention, when they were passing that kid out more than a joint at a Grateful Dead concert. Remember that? I mean, she started it, as far as I can tell."
Guest Lizz Winstead, co-creator of the Daily Show, then chimed in that Palin had already written about her "dumb life": "She already wrote a book about her own dumb life anyway, and, as far as I can tell, when Joe McGinniss writes about Sarah Palin, he doesn`t go into her personal life. He`s writing about whether or not she has a modicum of skill to run anything."
Hell-bent to speed down its dead-end road to irrelevance, Newsweek's editors stubbornly cling to the self-delusion that their magazine is not a partisan rag. But any cursory look at the June 7 dead tree edition proves otherwise.
[No, I didn't get inspired to write this following a dentist's visit. Sadly, we still have a subscription here at the office.]
Take, for example The Index feature in the Scope section. Assigning a number score from zero (awful) to 100 (awesome), Newsweek writers snarked that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal [score of 15] has often "[railed] against big government" but is now complaining "big government isn't doing enough to protect his shorelines." Writers also smacked around conservative J.D. Hayworth, former Rep. Vito Fossella and failed Idaho congressional candidate Vaughn Ward while praising author Joe McGinniss [score of 74] for moving next door to Sarah Palin's Wasilla, Alaska, residence. No Democrats were ridiculed by name.
A quick flip to the Back Story on the last page asks "How Queer Is That?" with a look at how it's "[f]unny how prominent conservatives with antigay records are so often caught in gay sex scandals." For that feature, three former and one current Republican politician were featured, as were former evangelical pastor Ted Haggard and minister George Rekers.
On Wednesday’s The View on ABC, co-host Joy Behar defended author Joe McGinniss’s decision to purchase a home right next door to Sarah Palin as he plans to write an unauthorized biography of her, and his recent comments on NBC's Today show comparing her criticism of him to the behavior of Nazi troopers of the Third Reich. Behar found no agreement from the other co-hosts, and faced stiff resistance from Elisabeth Hasselbeck, in particular. Behar: "He's not saying she's a Nazi. He's saying the tactic was Nazi-like. ... This is the inference Ms. Palin put on her Facebook: ‘Wonder what kind of material he'll gather while overlooking Piper's bedroom?’ ... so now she writes something like that, she unleashes hatred among the Palinites who are very dittohead-ish and carry guns..."
Hasselbeck objected to being called a "dittohead," prompting Behar bring up Rush Limbaugh embrace of the term as a description of audience members, but also mocked Hasselbeck by calling him and Palin her "idols."
That's why one needs to mix it up, perhaps by suggesting that they're akin to the radical Islamic clerics that inspire terrorism.
Just ask MSNBC's Chris Matthews.
During the "Political Sideshow" segment of his June 1 program, the "Hardball" host compared Sarah Palin's Facebook page posting about author Joe McGinniss renting the house next door to a "fatwa" aimed at "rev[ving] up anger at the author" from amongst her "mob" of followers [MP3 audio available here]:
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:
With all the major news stories and developments out there, the editorial board at the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman in Wasilla, Alaska, Sarah Palin's hometown, is bemused, bewildered, and somewhat befuddled at the national media's interest in a privacy fence (HT Michelle Malkin) on residential property.
The just-built fence is on Palin's property. Its purpose is to frustrate the prying eyes of author Joe McGinnis, who has moved into a house next door for what is said to be the next five months.
The Palins are understandably none too pleased at the orchestrated attempt at privacy invasion that appears to either be funded by or will ultimately be reimbursed by publishing giant Random House. Readers here will share that feeling once they see who is expending precious newsroom resources trying to follow the McGinnis v. Palin saga instead of dealing with legitimate news stories.
Here is some of what the Frontiersman had to say on Saturday (bolds are mine):
"It's called legwork, it's called immersion journalism, and it doesn't look pretty. But it should come as a surprise to only naive newspaper readers that every day journalists treat the subjects of investigations the way [Joe] McGinniss is treating Palin," Slate's Jack Shafer argued in a May 26 post subheadlined, "In defense of a journalist's stalking of a politician."
Shafer wrote his post because, after all, he felt he had to in some way publicly "commend the writer for an act of journalistic a**holery —renting the house next door to the Palin family in Wasilla, Alaska."
Far from crossing any ethical lines, to Shafer, McGinniss's move "honors a long tradition of snooping" and is worthy of applause from hard-bitten gumshoe reporters everywhere:
The Washington Post's Reliable Source gossip column noticed Sarah Palin reported a new neighbor in Wasilla on her Facebook page: liberal author Joe McGinniss. The once-highly esteemed author of The Selling of the President 1968 took a major tumble in 1993 with his Ted Kennedy book The Last Brother, which was blasted for plagiarism and patches of invented dialogue, tactics used against Ted Kennedy, not some loathsome Red State conservative. The Post relayed:
She blasted his work as biased but mostly poured on the sweet sarcasm: "We're sure to have a doozey to look forward to ... Wonder what kind of material he'll gather while overlooking Piper's bedroom, my little garden, and the family's swimming hole? ... Come borrow a cup of sugar if ever you need some sweetener." We couldn't reach McGinniss; his publishing house, Broadway Books, told AP he "will be highly respectful of his subject's privacy as he investigates her public activities."