To get right to what readers will be looking for--the dirt on Sarah Palin--author Joe McGinniss claims his former next-door neighbor smoked weed and used cocaine, had sex with a black basketball star, and carried on an affair with her husband's business partner. To get right to the denials, all that may or may not be true. Husband Todd Palin describes the book as "disgusting lies, innuendo, and smears."
For one, The New York Times' Janet Maslin, reviewing McGinniss' new book on the ex-Alaska governor, appears to have serious doubts. "Although most of The Rogue is dated, petty and easily available to anyone with Internet access," she writes, "Mr. McGinniss used his time in Alaska to chase caustic, unsubstantiated gossip about the Palins, often from unnamed sources like 'one resident' and 'a friend,'" adding that the book is "too busy being nasty to be lucid."
Among the lowlights:
--In 1987, while she was single and a TV sports reporter in Alaska, Sarah Heath allegedly slept with future NBA star Glen Rice, then a University of Michigan star, while his team was participating in the annual Great Alaska Shootout hoop tournament--a supposedly one-night stand in the University of Alaska dorm room of Palin's sister.
--Palin, whose family is from the Tri-Cities, reputedly snorted cocaine off a 55-gallon oil drum while snowmobiling with friends, and smoked marijuana in college. Todd Palin, son of a native Seattleite, also reportedly used cocaine. He was "on the end of a straw plenty," according to an associate quoted in the book.
--While married, Palin allegedly had an affair with her husband's snowmobile-dealership business partner, Brad Hanson. Todd reportedly ended his partnership with Hanson after he found out about the secret six-month relationship in 1996. Sarah Palin and Hanson deny the allegations.
Maslin says McGinniss's "most quotable, inflammatory lines call Ms. Palin a clown, a nitwit, a rabid wolf and a lap dancer--and those aren't the parts that assail her as a wife and parent." He makes a "provocative case" for questioning whether Palin truly is the mother of youngest son Trig, but comes to the "indefensibly reckless conclusion" that, even if Palin did not fake motherhood, "it was something she was eminently capable of doing."
There is one area, and only one, in which "The Rogue" is dead-on. Mr. McGinniss knows how publicity works. He appreciates, not to say emulates, the way members of the Palin family cash in on celebrity and contradict themselves without penalty.
In other words, another McGinniss best-seller.