Good old Joe McGinniss sets up camp in Wasilla

Jedediah Bila Contributor
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As I went to post my column—“Media still afflicted with Palin-OCD”—on Facebook and Twitter this past Tuesday morning, I noticed Sarah Palin’s new Facebook note, “Just When Ya Think It Can’t Get Any More “Interesting”… Welcome, Neighbor!” I couldn’t help but laugh initially at the fact that there it was, the Palin-OCD I was referring to, alive and well right outside the Palin home. But my laughter quickly transformed into nausea.

I have since received dozens of emails asking what I think of the whole thing. So, I’m going to tell you, plain and simple: This is an awful, disgusting, sickening situation. And if that was in any way unclear, it’s downright creepy.

The fact that author Joe McGinniss and his publishing house—Random House—deemed it appropriate for him to move into a rental space fifteen feet from the Palin home for several months while he writes a book about Sarah Palin, is detestable. I am in no way suggesting that McGinniss doesn’t have the right to author a book about Palin, but I’d like to know what exactly he’s writing that requires him to be within fifteen feet of her house. Would he not have easily been able to critique her policy, review her speeches made this past year, and/or research her record in Alaska from the comfort of his own home in Massachusetts? Couldn’t he have dissected Going Rogue by picking up a copy at his local MA bookstore? Could he not have conducted any relevant interviews with individuals in Alaska by visiting, picking up a telephone, and/or staying somewhere in Wasilla that isn’t virtually on top of the Palin home? The answer is simple: Of course, he could have. But that’s not the kind of book he’s writing. His book requires him to be within earshot of the Palins’ open windows and a stone’s throw away from where the Palin children play. I wonder if McGinniss has already crafted a spy stethoscope to help him hear through their walls. You know what—let me not give him any ideas.

It’s important to note that Joe McGinniss isn’t just a random author who decided that trampling on Sarah Palin’s privacy is the best way to make a quick buck this year. In March of 2009, he wrote a column for Condé Nast’s Portfolio that was dishonest at best, in which he claimed that Palin was the true impediment to the development of Alaska’s gas-pipeline. In the Fall of 2009, McGinniss bid $60,100 at a Ride 2 Recovery eBay charity auction in order to win the featured prize, dinner with Sarah Palin. McGinniss commented to AlaskaDispatch.com via email that, “I think such a dinner would be the perfect way to kick off the reporting for my new book: Sarah Palin’s Year of Living Dangerously.” In the Fall of 2009, McGinniss stopped by the Palins’ Wasilla house to deliver a copy of Going to Extremes, his 1980 book. He also happened to be in The Villages in Florida when Palin was there on her book tour. And now he’ll be sleeping, dining, and peering from just 15 feet away.

Kudos to Sarah Palin for handling this situation with an incredible amount of class. Kudos to Todd Palin for finding the inner strength to not pick up Joe McGinniss and politely catapult him back to Massachusetts. If it’s not bad enough that the Palins’ have had to erect a fence that will compromise both their view and the open space that characterizes the whole point of living in a place like Wasilla to begin with, Sarah Palin will likely have to patrol to keep photographers away from her children. There are lines between ethical and unethical media behavior, and this one misses the ethical mark by about a million miles.

I do have an interesting idea, though. Wouldn’t it be great if someone moved in right next door to good old Joe McGinniss and watched him watching her—you know, jotted down all his Palin-OCD day to day. Now that’s a book worth reading. Tentative title: Joe McGinniss’s Year of Clutching Binoculars, Hopping Fences, and Testing out Hearing-Amplification Devices in Wasilla, Alaska. Hey, Random House—you want a bestseller? Give me a ring.

Jedediah Bila is a conservative columnist and commentator living in New York City. For more information on Jedediah, please visit http://jedediahbila.com/.