Former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin denounced the author of a book chronicling the triple-murder conviction of a Green Beret physician Monday, on the same day new evidence in the case was set to be introduced.
In a column for Breitbart.com, Palin criticized Joe McGinniss, who both chronicled the case of Jeffrey MacDonald in the 1983 book Fatal Vision and wrote about her 2008 campaign in another book, The Rogue, published last year, saying McGinniss betrayed MacDonald’s defense team.
“Apparently, falsely convicted men don’t make for good books,” Palin wrote. “McGinniss decided it was a better story to agree with the jury. MacDonald wasn’t a sympathetic figure. He did himself no favors with some media appearances. So, McGinniss went about writing a book that would convince people the government got the right verdict and we could all pat ourselves on the back and leave Jeffrey MacDonald to rot in his jail cell till Judgment Day.”
The Associated Press reported that a federal judge was scheduled to consider DNA evidence and new testimony Monday that MacDonald and his supporters said would clear him of a crime he has insisted he did not commit since being convicted in 1979.
MacDonald, now 68, is not eligible for parole until 2020. He has insisted that his family was killed by three men and a woman chanting “acid is groovy” and “kill the pigs” on Feb. 17, 1970.
In her column, Palin cites a new book on the case by filmmaker Errol Morris, A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald, which paints McGinniss as being troubled by the dissolution of his first marriage as his writing career began to take off.
According to Morris, McGinniss says he “dreamed terrible dreams about the maiming and destruction of [his] daughters” in a diary entry. But Morris suggests McGinniss projected those dreams onto his description of MacDonald in Fatal Vision.
In The Rogue, McGinniss criticized Palin for, among other things, spending $150,000 of the Republican National Committee’s money on clothes. He also moved into a house next door from Palin’s while working on the book.
Monday, Palin wrote that while she is not completely convinced of MacDonald’s innocence, she does “know from personal experience that McGinniss is a stone cold manipulative liar,” accusing the author of stalking her and her family and attempting to manipulate his way into getting access into their lives.
“I realize that what McGinniss did to thrash my reputation is nowhere near as horrible as what he did to corrupt the narrative of a murder case (especially if it helped keep an innocent man in jail),” Palin wrote. “But it’s still egregious and disgusting because many in the media ran with it in order to add another chapter to their own false narrative.”
Both of McGinniss’ works have come under criticism in the past; Janet Malcolm called McGinniss “a kind of confidence man, preying on people’s vanity, ignorance or loneliness” in her 1990 book The Journalist and The Murderer.
And last year, former MSNBC news anchor Keith Olbermann, a frequent critic of Palin’s, expressed skepticism over McGinniss’ reporting for Rogue.
McGinniss drew a link between both books in a rebuttal to Malcolm’s book, added to Fatal Vision as an “epilogue” in 1989 and posted on his website last year.
“What makes this relevant to The Rogue is that Jeffrey MacDonald was the first pathologically narcissistic psychopath about whom I ever wrote a book,” he wrote on the site. “Guess who’s the second?”