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An Upstanding Citizen

May 30, 2010

Initially, I considered the Joe McGinniss-Sarah Palin story a big snoozer because a) quite predictably, every “journalist” had come out of the woodwork to defend one of their comrades against the big, bad politician and b) I really just didn’t care, but that was before Dave Weigel posted this interview with McGinniss on Friday.  It’s quite obvious whose side Weigel is on—after all, he is a newspaperman himself—but I came away with a totally different impression of Señor McGinniss based on these particular comments.  On why he decided to move into the house next door to the Palins:

A room at the Best Western, not far away, would have been prohibitively expensive. The landlord of this house, meanwhile, offered it to McGinniss for $1,500 per month after a friend of the author recommended him as a solid alternative to the other people asking about the property.

“She was talking to this mutual friend of ours and said, ‘I’ve got to find someone we’re comfortable with,’ ” McGinniss said Friday evening from the deck of the house — a deck that became famous after Palin posted a photo of it on Facebook this week. ” ‘My biggest concern is the Palins’ privacy, especially the children.’ So this mutual friend said, ‘Well, you know, I think you’re in luck. Joe McGinniss is going to be coming back here, and you couldn’t find a better guy, just the right sort of person to move in and guarantee their privacy.'”

Whoa now.  Let’s baaaack this truck up just a bit.  The landlord was apparently really worried about the Palins’ privacy, which is legitimate—I mean, let’s get real: Palin is probably the hottest politician of all time, and pretty much everybody just happens to always have a video camera on them nowadays (if you don’t believe, go watch an episode of Tosh.0).  Unfortunately, the part about this that doesn’t make any sense is where somebody who declares concern for the family’s privacy would be so willing—even excited, if you believe McGinniss—to lease the house to somebody who just happens to be writing an biography about its matriarch.  That doesn’t strike me as the prototypical “minds his own business” neighbor.

Never mind that McGinniss says he’ll be done with his “local research” by Labor Day.  It’s not like he’ll be living there for a number of years or anything.  Is the landlord only concerned about the Palins’ privacy over the summer?  I guess it’s just the potential for bikini photos taken from the deck at McGinniss’s place that concern said landlord.  As if that won’t be a problem next summer when, if you believe him, McGinniss won’t be there.  Either way, I don’t really think this flies.  Leasing a house to an investigative journalist in order to protect a neighbor’s seclusion just seems like a dumb idea/lie.  As for McGinniss’s bidding $60,000 at a charity auction for a dinner with Palin:

“I just kept bidding because there was nothing else to do and it was fun,” he said. “She offered dinner with herself for a price? Well, if a journalist could pay the price, it would be responsible journalism to try and win that prize. I knew I couldn’t pay the price, so I wasn’t in there as a serious bidder.”

Some bored people find other things to do with their time, like reading a book or watching a movie or playing a video game.  Apparently Joe McGinniss gets his jollies by bidding on something he knows he can’t win.  Sounds like a rockin’ good time.  Or just a big pile of crap.

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