A Creepy Author and Sarah Palin

I have a difficult time with this issue in some regard, because Sarah Palin is a public figure, and she has forfeited a certain amount of privacy by agreeing to run for the second highest office in the land. The story is that an author had an idea to do a book on Sarah Palin, and he decided to rent the property that is next door to Sarah Palin.
The author was asked about the creepy move in an interview on the Today show. “What if the situation were reversed?” Lauer asked, “and Palin was writing a piece on you? Would you have built the same fence they built?” Lauer asked about the fourteen foot privacy fence the Palins built after the author moved right next door to them.
“No,” said the author, “I would’ve shaken their hands, given them a plate of cookies and said welcome to the neighborhood.”
If I asked the ‘situations were reversed’ question I would’ve added the words hit and piece. What if the Palins moved next to you, and Sarah was writing a hit piece on you..?” If the author were writing a flowery piece, or even a non-partisan piece, you might invite them over for tea and crumpets, but when the author is looking for dirt on you to try to damage your reputation, you don’t give them a smile and some cookies and say welcome aboard. I’m not going to go so far as to accuse Lauer of bias, but he did commit the sin of omission as far as I’m concerned.
To those who say that we cannot know that the book is going to be a hit piece, I say watch the interview. The author makes the claim that he only wants to talk to the people of Wasila, Alaska and find out the details of Sarah Palin from those who know her best. He then claims that the rental was one he couldn’t pass up. I think he mentioned the $1,500 a month price he is paying for the property about eight times in the eight minute interview. What was it again that Shakespeare said about one protesting too much?

The author goes on to compare Palin’s actions, following his rental of the neighboring house, to those of the Nazis. He said: “The power that Palin has to incite hatred, and her willingness and readiness to do so is apparent here. She has pushed a button and unleashed the hounds of hell. And that’s the same kind of tactic–and I’m not calling her a Nazi–but that’s the same kind of tactic that the Nazis troopers in Germany used in the thirties, and I don’t think there’s any place for it in America.” It should be noted that Lauer dropped in a “well” in the middle of the author’s rant to apparently try to stop the man from hanging himself with his own words, but the author could not be deterred. Do these quotes sound like the type of sound bites an author would want out there to characterize a subject they were covering if their objective was anything other than a hit piece?
As I said, the privacy issue of this matter gives me some pause. Would I feel the same if a biographer moved next to Nancy Pelosi? I wouldn’t feel the same, for I would want more damaging information on Pelosi to reach the mainstream, but that doesn’t mean that I would not find it creepy and a little unethical in some ways. If it were a Pelosi being covered in such a fashion, I would be all for it, but I wouldn’t be delusional enough to believe the author’s intentions were anything other than what they are.
I know that the Today show stated that the author is accomplished, but I’ve never heard of him, and I pay attention to books and authors and the literary market. If this author followed all of the ethical and standard operating procedures of biographers, his book would’ve sat at the forefront of all the book stores (as all books do with Palin’s name on it) for about a week. In the following weeks, it would’ve gained a prominent layer of dust when it was discovered that it was just another Republican hit piece, and it would’ve either been sent back to the publisher en masse or hit the bargain bins. It would’ve then joined all the other boring, hit pieces that the literary market is flooded with and it would’ve been forgotten in the same manner. The press this author and his publisher have procured assures the fact that this will not happen.


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