Sarah Palin took to her Facebook account today to inform her readers that Joe McGinniss, an award-winning reporter and author, had rented the house next door.
Palin informs her readers that McGinniss is "overlooking my children’s play area" and "overlooking Piper’s bedroom." Alternately sounding angry and mocking, she refers to "the family’s swimming hole," which at first reference sounds like she's accusing McGinniss of checking out the Palins in their bathing suits, until you realize the family's "swimming hole" is Lake Lucille. And she posts a photo of the space McGinniss is renting, captioning it, "Can I call you Joe?"
Can somebody explain to me how this isn't a despicable thing for Palin to do? She describes McGinniss as the author of "the bizarre anti-Palin administration oil development pieces that resulted in my Department of Natural Resources announcing that his work is the most twisted energy-related yellow journalism they’d ever encountered."
Another way of putting it would be that McGinniss is an investigative journalist who wrote his first best-seller at age 26 and was shopping a book about Alaska and the oil industry when Palin was named John McCain's running mate. And another way of describing those "bizarre" pieces is that no one has ever challenged the facts in them.
Palin, who has an undergraduate degree in journalism, should understand that articles don't become untrue when the subjects don't agree with them.
Has McGinniss gone to an extreme to get a story? Well, we don't have his side yet -- not that this has prevented every other media outlet from typing up Palin's Facebook post like some lost Gospel. But assuming he's rented the house near the Palins for some period of time, assuming the Palins know he's there and that he's writing a book, then what, exactly, is wrong with this?
Politicians don't have veto power over who gets to write about them, or how they research their stories, as long as they're within the bounds of the law. It's incredibly irresponsible for them to sic their fans on journalists they don't like. And that's what Palin is doing here -- she has already inspired Glenn Beck to accuse McGinniss of "stalking" Palin and issuing a threat to boycott his publisher.
This is really the ultimate example of the way Palin manipulates the press and inverts the relationship between reporters and politicians, turning the former into "stalkers," and the latter -- as long as they're Republicans or members of her family -- into saints whom no one can criticize. No one in the media should reward Palin for this irresponsible and pathetic bullying.