UPDATE: Just when everyone seemed to have forgotten about -- or at least moved on from -- The Rogue, Sarah Palin's camp has brought the controversial book right back to the forefront by threatening to sue its author and publisher for "knowingly publishing false statements."
In a letter sent to the Crown Publishing Group, which was obtained by ABC News, Palin's family attorney, John Tiemessen, warns the publisher that Palin is weighing a lawsuit and requests that the company does not delete any emails or destroy any records related to the book or its author, Joe McGinniss.
The "Palins are fighting back and demanding answers from (Crown parent company) Random House," an unnamed source close to the Palins told the TV network. "Random House is at the top of the food chain and published a book based upon acknowledged unsubstantiated gossip."
At the heart of Palin's defamation claim is an email that McGinniss allegedly wrote to a liberal Alaskan blogger in which the author admits there were problems with his sourcing. "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," McGinniss wrote in the email published last week by conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart.
UPDATE Friday, Sept. 16: The long-anticipated book by veteran author Joe McGinniss, The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin, has received plenty of attention before its release next week, but many have been quick to dismiss it, saying it goes a step too far.
Now “the lamestream media is coming to Sarah Palin’s defense,” writes Politico’s Molly Ball, noting that in addition to the McGinniss book there’s also the Levi Johnston memoir and a British documentary. Several newspapers have also refused to run the “Doonesbury” strip this week, which included excerpts from the book.
Many Palin supporters used to criticizing the New York Times suddenly found themselves linking to it favorably, thanks to a Janet Maslin scorching review that characterizes The Rogue as “caustic, unsubstantiated gossip” that “is too busy being nasty to be lucid.” Todd Palin, Sarah’s husband, even cited Maslin in a statement he issued that said the book is filled with "disgusting lies, innuendo and smear." The Los Angeles Times’ David Ulin pointed out that while he has “no doubt that McGinniss’ view of Palin is accurate … I want more than innuendo to make the point.”
The widely publicized McGinniss claims that Palin snorted cocaine, slept with Glen Rice when he was a college basketball star, and had an affair with Todd Palin’s business associate have made even regular critics feel a bit sorry for the former governor. The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart says he “felt a pang of pity” because “even polarizing public figures deserve to be skewered by well-researched and thoroughly reported facts.”
In Friday’s edition of Playbook, Mike Allen writes that those “wondering how seriously to take” the book should read a passage in which a “former houseguest” claims she was kicked out of Palin’s home. Todd Palin allegedly told the houseguest that Sarah "found that big bottle of baby oil in your bedroom and she knows you guys are rubbin’ it on yourselves and havin’ sex." (The houseguest in question claims to have dry skin.)
Some at Slate have also come to Palin’s defense, including Libby Copeland: “It’s precisely because it is so easy for the Palin camp to make claims of ill intentions and poor judgment against anyone writing about her that The Rogue deserved to be written by someone with purer motives and a greater regard for accuracy.”
Meanwhile, Politico points out that the British documentary, You Betcha!, got skewered by critics when it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival for being so obviously one-sided. As Palin discovers new friends, some in the conservative media have turned against Palin, saying she shouldn’t run for president. And they could have a point. As a political analyst tells Reuters, even if the McGinniss book helps to make her a sympathetic figure among some it just “doesn’t look presidential, even if there’s nothing new in the book, there’s just a few more days of buzz about her and her personal life and all the issues.”
For those interested in more details from the book, Slate’s David Weigel writes up “a guide to a few of the Palin personae McGinniss sketches in The Rogue,” noting that “some of this stuff is so outrageous as to be unbelievable.”
POST Wednesday, Sept. 14: From the yellow journalism department: The always-classy National Enquirer is trumpeting claims that journalist Joe McGinniss’ forthcoming book on Sarah Palin will contain a prurient bombshell about the prospective presidential candidate: namely, that she hooked up with basketball star Glen Rice in 1987, less than a year before she eloped with her husband Todd. The Enquirer cites sources at the book's publisher.
Even if true, it’s probably not really anyone’s business but Sarah’s, Glen’s, and perhaps Todd’s, depending on the circumstances--but that isn’t about to stop the juicy tidbit from making the rounds on Twitter, blogs, and even the Washington Post (albeit as a blog item and not a news story). Tangentially, the Post’s post has some mildly entertaining video of Palin as a young sports reporter for a local TV station in Alaska, narrating the highlights of a Michigan game. (“Wolverines start slappin’, Purdue keeps hittin’ from the line.”) The claim is that she rendezvoused with Rice while his Wolverines squad was in town for the Great Alaska Shootout, an annual college basketball tournament.
McGinniss has a history of penning explosive but ethically dubious bestsellers. He made his name as a 26-year-old with his debut, The Selling of the President 1968, an exposé of the Nixon presidential campaign. His 1983 true crime book about the Jeffrey MacDonald murder trial sparked a lawsuit, which became the subject of Janet Malcolm’s classic about journalism’s moral perils, The Journalist and the Murderer.
McGinniss raised eyebrows by moving in next door to the Palins in Wasilla, Alaska, in 2009. He dismissed her allegations that he was moving in to spy on the family, insisting he came only because the landlord thought he would be a good tenant. He told the Post that Palin should stop complaining and “be an adult about it.”