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Sarah Palin's new neighbor: How author Joe McGinniss got the house next door in Wasilla

Does Joe McGinniss have Sarah Palin's home in his sights? Photo illustration of the former Alaska governor's lakefront home in Wasilla. (Al Grillo/AP photo; illustration by Susana Sanchez/The Washington Post)

So how exactly did author Joe McGinniss end up renting a house in Wasilla, Alaska, directly next door to his latest subject, Sarah Palin?

He hasn't responded to interview requests, so we turned to his son -- a writer in Washington -- to explain this real estate situation that's led to accusations of stalking, the Palins' construction of a new fence and a blurry image of McGinniss plastered on Palin's Facebook page.

Palin, left, speaking at a Las Vegas convention Sunday; and her new neighbor Joe McGinniss, shown here in 1993. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images; Richard Drew/AP)

Joe McGinniss Jr. says it's a lucky accident. He told our colleague Monica Hesse that his dad had been couch-surfing with friends ever since arriving in Alaska, where he had ties from researching a previous book.

"Then, he's contacted by an older woman who says that she happens to own the house next door to the house where the Palins live. ... And of course, he's like, Yeah! And he's paying, what, $1,500 a month?" A steal! (Well, it's "a really modest, none-too-attractive place," or so he has heard.) The son said the landlady had passed up more lucrative offers from tabloids but decided to cut his father a break since she knew his work.
The younger McGinniss said he chose to speak out to defend his father's honor after hearing public vitriol over the living arrangement -- particularly after Palin told Glenn Beck that McGinniss "better leave [her] kids alone."

"He's a 67-year-old grandfather," McGinniss Jr. says. "The idea that he's holed up in some dark little house next door" spying on children "is laughable."

"Joe is doing what reporters do, which is go to the source and get as close to them as possible," says David Drake of Broadway Books, a division of Random House, which will publish McGinniss's book. "He is reporting it from up close and personal, which is something he is very good at doing."

Indeed. The veteran political writer (whose 1969 "The Selling of the President" set a new standard for campaign coverage) once bid more than $60,000 for a charity-auction lunch with Palin (he lost). In the 1980s, he became roomies with Jeffrey MacDonald while the latter was on trial for murdering his wife and two daughters; MacDonald later sued the author for pretending to be his friend while writing a book that trumpeted his guilt.

"I look sometimes at his body of work," says McGinnis Jr. "He wrote about Nixon. He wrote about a triple murderer. He wrote about a boy who killed his stepfather. He wrote about the Kennedys. If you swim in all those waters, you're going to come out smelling like ... well, like something."

By The Reliable Source  |  May 28, 2010; 1:03 AM ET
Categories:  Politics  
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Next: While we were out: Joe McGinniss and Sarah Palin, Melissa Leo, Gary Coleman, Dennis Hopper


Nobody is calling Joe a pedophile. But Palin probably doesn't want Joe bothering her kids at all, as in, talking to them, asking them questions, or invading their privacy in any way. Piper, for instance, has been ambushed by reporters going to and from school before.

Posted by: Uffda52222 | May 27, 2010 11:19 PM | Report abuse

What an utterly contemptible bastard.

Posted by: thebump | May 27, 2010 11:20 PM | Report abuse

Joe McGinniss is a total creep of the first degree...Radio talk-show host Mark Levin recently gave Joe's email out on the air. It is:

Posted by: charko825 | May 28, 2010 3:51 AM | Report abuse

"He's a 67-year-old grandfather," McGinniss Jr. says. "The idea that he's holed up in some dark little house next door" spying on children "is laughable."

It's not laughable. It's libelous.

How's that dopey-derangey thing working out for you, Sarah?

Posted by: MAL9000 | May 28, 2010 6:58 AM | Report abuse

Palin is a classic mean girl, happy to pile dirt on other people but crying like a baby the first time it spatters back on her. She is a coward, a quitter and a liar. She is the most contemptible kind of person and it's purely pathetic that there are actually people who think she's wonderful. That blind cult-like love is pathetic.

Posted by: Jayne | May 28, 2010 8:09 AM | Report abuse

Funny that Sarah's concerned about a legitimate author living next door to her, but she never said a peep about the drug addicts when they lived there. Guess it's clear who Sarah's more uncomfortable with.

Posted by: Jayne | May 28, 2010 8:12 AM | Report abuse

The claim that the Palins owe their neighbor money is exceedingly difficult to believe on several levels. McGinniss claims the Palins owe the neighbor for "renovations" she performed for them. Really? Along with a few buddies, Todd built the Palins' home. The Palins are currently adding a 6,000 square foot addition with Todd heavily involved in the construction. In addition, Todd has managed to put up a rather large fence in just a couple days. Todd Palin doesn't strike me as someone who would need help with "renovations" from an absentee neighbor. He seems to be managing just fine without said neighbor's renovating expertise, wouldn't you say?

Moreover, are we really expected to believe that the Palins stiffed their neighbor for a bill and we're only finding out about it now? We're to believe that the neighbor was so angry over this that she sought out Joe McGinniss to get payback instead of running straight to the media (or at least the leftist bloggers in Alaska)? She could have been a folk hero to Keith Olbermann's seven viewers. But if she was really interested in collecting money from the Palins, she could have simply answered her phone.

Posted by: ekorthals | May 28, 2010 8:50 AM | Report abuse

You know, I'm ashamed to admit, that each time I see this woman's name in the paper, I'm compelled to read what the "idiot" (I'm restraining myself from using a different word here), has done today. But here I am, once again, reading some new nonsense about Ms Palin, (retraining myself again for a different word). I guess, I'll have to pray on getting this stupid curiosity out of my system on anything/everything Ms. Palin (last restraint) related...

Posted by: WhitneyDavid | May 28, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

As much as I dislike Sarah Palin, and as much as it frightens me to think enough people in this country would be foolish enough to elect her for anything, let alone a high office, I am still compelled to read the latest Sarah-news, such as this article. To uffda52222: so Piper has been "ambushed" by reporters. What does this have to do with Joe McGinniss? To thebump: I hope you are being sarcastic! To charko825: Joe McGinniss is a total creep? On what do you base your opinion? He's a good writer, IMHO. Have you read any of his books? To Jayne: Amen, sister! and finally, to ekorthals: I don't see where (at least in this article) Joe McGinniss says the Palins owe their neighbor money. Where did you get this information? A citation, please! Or have you just heard a rumor that McGinniss said this and are repeating it to defend your idol? Are you one of Mark Levin's seven listeners?

Posted by: pennstatemom2000 | May 28, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Why does Sarah think everyone is out to get her kids? Especially when one of them pretty much put her self in the public eye.

Posted by: 6thsense79 | May 28, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

"The home Joe McGinniss is renting used to be an Oxford House from 2005 until 2008. The tenants were men recently released from prison who were recovering addicts..." Right Now

It is fascinating that Palin was more comfortable with ex-con/addicts living next to little Piper than a well respected writer. She never complained publicly about the ex-cons next door and it merited no mention in her book or in her many discussions with her friends at Fox. Where was Glenn when she really needed his outrage and some chalk?

Apparently the ex-cons living there for three years didn't motivate her man hunk, the Toddster, to build a weirdo fence to protect the women folk. I guess it must be some form of Wasilla logic we un-real Americans just can't understand.

How much longer will the Arctic Grifter continue to use Piper as a human shield and prop for her lame political purposes?

Posted by: BobSanderson | May 28, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

"He's a 67-year-old grandfather," McGinniss Jr. says. "The idea that he's holed up in some dark little house next door" spying on children "is laughable."

Under normal circumstances, I might buy this statement. But the press has shown a "no-holds-barred" treatment of Palin. She should be skeptical of this man.

Posted by: bethg1841 | May 28, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

You libs really need to get over Palin..

Posted by: 2010Rout | May 28, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Sarah Palin always exploits her children - and this time, to suggest that McGinness would seek to harm them in some way.
jeeeeeez - that woman is a freaking maniac!

Posted by: angie12106 | May 28, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Building a fence is a small price to pay for all she's capitalized on with her dimmest of wits.

Posted by: johng1 | May 28, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

We 'libs' are trying to get over Palin, but the MSM continues to cover her antics, ad nauseam. It's like trying to avoid looking at a train wreck. Human nature.

Posted by: VinnieTheSnake | May 28, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

As we all know, what's REALLY important here is that Ms. Palin continues to wear her MC HAMMER glasses while hiding behind this fence.

Posted by: password11 | May 28, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

You liberals are looney!

Posted by: 2010Rout | May 28, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully this fall, the liberal loone McGinniss can help the hibernation cause of a mother grizzly, and be used as winter storage food.

Posted by: dashriprock | May 28, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

She's just doing privately what she wants to do with the nation, build a huge wall between us. Did I get that right, she's only building the wall on the side of her property that faces McGinniss? It's selective privacy... kind of like how she'd build the wall to the south but not the north.

Posted by: CharlesLD | May 28, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Joe will yet find that the Palin has warts down below and in the head. Hope he will find the paper trail for that kick back / pay back money from the Waslia Sport contact of something like $12 million, part of which the Palin's used to build that lake front home.

Posted by: winemaster2 | May 28, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

I found this on another site.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but in other photos taken of the properties in question (from the lake?), that deck doesn't stretch across the full length of the house. It ends before it reaches the corner closest to the Palin property line.

It doesn't look like he's seated as close as possible to their home.

Here's a different photo, showing both houses.

Seems to me that this has generated a great deal of free publicity for Joe McGinnis' publisher. In fact, Ann Coulter is another of their authors.

Posted by: Skowronek | May 28, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Watch Joe closely Sarah. Just watch him.

Posted by: apdseal | May 28, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Sadly, the fence blocks her view of Russia

Posted by: zcezcest1 | May 28, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

WOW - she's a trip. It's okay for her to put gun sights on candidates but she doesn't want an author living next door - okay for ex-convicts to live there without a fence. Does anyone need any more evidence that she's a little strange.

Posted by: rlj1 | May 28, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

I don't know much about this man, but Palin needs to be exposed for the fraud she is. Thought she would self destruct by now but must have found some good speach, comment writers.
A person who bases her being on fear, anger, hate, fear mongering, lies, distortions and hypocrasy should not get all the media attention she gets.
CNN is absolutely in love with her, goes to face book to quote her with headlines. Course, go figure, CNN is trying to become another Fox.

Posted by: kathlenec | May 28, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Some of you are either evil or sick.

The guy has already been accused of stalking and he rents what they call a dump - in order to be next door?

What hypocrisy - like that would be acceptable around your kids/family?

Brave man, didn't move next to the Cheneys

Posted by: Justice26 | May 28, 2010 7:28 PM | Report abuse

McGuinniss found that another reporter (from a tv network) went to his door so he shouted out to the poor guy that unless he went away he, McGuinniss, would call the police!

He's definitely a sicko ~ and no doubt the Palin's should be on their guard lest he get out of control, or worse, that one of his friends flies up there and tries a flanking action.

Posted by: muawiyah | May 28, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse

A fence?

I think someone is starting to show signs of paranoia.

Posted by: lcarter0311 | May 28, 2010 8:12 PM | Report abuse

Joe McGinnis has upset many, many "Friends of Sarah"...He has chosen a very wrong path...

Posted by: charko825 | May 28, 2010 11:40 PM | Report abuse

Oh, poor little Sarah baby. She's one who can dish it out but can't take it. If she had a clue she would know he is a well-known author who is not going to stalk her children. you suppose she has something to hide? She loves the limelight but it has to be on her terms. Besides, who cares! She is a shrieking nightmare who never goes away. Thanks, John McCain!

Posted by: sharronkm | May 28, 2010 11:59 PM | Report abuse

It appears Joe McGinniss can't take a taste of his own medicine.

An ABC reporter knocked on his door to ask a few questions and McGinniss told him to get off his property or he would call the police.

What's good for the goose, is good for the gander.

Posted by: janet8 | May 29, 2010 12:13 AM | Report abuse

Wow - I wish a reporter, ANY reporter investigated Obama's life-story, especially his fictional autobiography, with just 10% of the effort being focused on Palin.

Posted by: pgr88 | May 29, 2010 12:14 AM | Report abuse

If a guy as creepy as mcginnis moved next to me and my family i would cold cock him.He is a total freak.And i am no palin follower.

Posted by: gilliam | May 29, 2010 12:44 AM | Report abuse



That's you, buddy. Anyone NORMAL would be CREEPED-out by a Mike Wallace wanna-be, moving next door.

Posted by: russpoter | May 29, 2010 7:10 AM | Report abuse



That's you, buddy. Anyone NORMAL would be CREEPED-out by a Mike Wallace wanna-be, moving next door.

Posted by: russpoter | May 29, 2010 7:10 AM | Report abuse

McGinnis is just another liberal asshole who has a big ego...about like Clinton, Odumbo, Biden and several other creeps.
Human debris, nothing more.

Posted by: LarryG62 | May 29, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

C R E E P Y! I'd rather have a registered sex offender living next door to my kids than I would Joe McGinnis. What's next - photos of McGinnis scavenging from Palin's trash cans? Palin gets treated like this because liberals fear her. McGinnis is nothing more than human waste. Go Sarah!

Posted by: hill_marty | May 29, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Joe's move is a disgusting, but typical example of a National Enquirer type "reporter", who doesn't give a da_n about damage he does to others (and their children) so long as he can put his trashy stuff and himself in the news.

I don't respect or like Sarah Palin, but Joe is a perfect Jackass, especially the posterior half!

Posted by: lufrank1 | May 29, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

What a disgusting little dweeb of a voyeur this puke is.
Is this the kind of scum that anti-Palin people believe and listen to? Makes me want to vomit knowing that he's peeking over walls and into windows to invade others privacy.

Posted by: pd2710 | May 29, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Can that Joe also see Russia from his kitchen window?

Posted by: mojo975 | May 29, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

What a Dirtbag !

These people will stop at nothing to cause trouble for for the Republicans or anyone they fear will be a threat in the next election !

Posted by: nicklan | May 29, 2010 6:30 PM | Report abuse

Joe McGinniss really has rattled the Palins--they have become hysterical because a writer has come to town and is interviewing the locals and plans to write a book that isn't a pack of lies. They are telling him about how Sarah tried to ban books from the library; how Sarah cannot be trusted; how Sarah values celebrity status and money more than staying at home with her special needs child. Palin has been telling tall stories and the truth is about to unfold. Wasilla people are not impressed when Bristol tells unwed mothers that she is their spokesman and she lost her childhood. They are not amused when Mama Palin shows her money and power to get the Party Girl of Wasilla off for her part in breaking into a home and having a drug-alcohol party and all the other teenagers have penalties. They do not like the way that the palins beat up in the media on Levi Johnston and his family. Polls show that only 27% of Alaskans even trust Sarah Palin but she lies to her fans in the Lower 48 and they treat her like a Diva.

Posted by: Sheryn | May 30, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

While I can understand that Sarah is upset, Joe McG is doing nothing wrong and certainly nothing illegal by renting the house next-door. In fact, he's exercising his freedom (do you love your freedom?). Sarah is overreacting to this uncomfortable situation by playing the victim card (as she does so often), impugning the motives of those who disagree with or criticize her (as she does so often). She is acting like the middle-school mean girl that she truly is. Honestly, if she has nothing to hide, she has nothing to fear. But her insinuations about Joe's motives are beyond the pale, and the product of a disturbed mind. She is indeed mentally unstable, as the McCain-Palin campaign staff came to realize.

Posted by: LeeAnne24 | May 31, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

ekorthals posted May 28, 2010 8:50 AM -- "The claim that the Palins owe their neighbor money is exceedingly difficult to believe on several levels. McGinniss claims the Palins owe the neighbor for "renovations" she performed for them. Really?"
According to the rest of your comment, you apparently think the "absentee neighbor" is an architect, or a building contractor.

Here's the deal: The Palins wanted to rent the house after the Oxford folks moved out, but they needed upgrades the house didn't have, so they asked the owner to get the upgrades done. Apparently the owner followed through, and the Palins DID rent the house for a short period. That's when the owner got stiffed by the Palins, and she discovered this interesting opportunity to "do unto others as they do unto you".

As for "Keith Olbermann's seven viewers", let's see...Keith Olbermann has 64,153 Twitter followers after using Twitter for only 6 weeks, since April 9th. He is seen by most progressive/liberals on MSNBC, which has a viewing audience certainly more than that number.

Sarah Palin has 159,792 Twitter followers after using the service a year. She depends on Fox "News" for face time, which is the go-to cable news service for the majority of low-information Americans.

Posted by: kayjay503 | May 31, 2010 6:40 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: janet8 posted May 29, 2010 12:13 AM -- "It appears Joe McGinniss can't take a taste of his own medicine. An ABC reporter knocked on his door to ask a few questions and McGinniss told him to get off his property or he would call the police. What's good for the goose, is good for the gander."
You're aware, aren't you, when GMA broadcasts their program (from Times Square, NYC)? 7 AM to 9 AM -- the time difference is 4 hours between the East Coast and Alaska.

That would mean that the ABC reporter woke Joe McGinniss up somewhere between 3 AM and 5 AM Alaska time. No wonder he was unhappy.

BTW, the season of the "midnight sun" is fast approaching in Alaska, so it's quite light out even that early in the morning, light enough outside to film a video intro like the ABC reporter did.

I can't believe how ignorant some Palinbots are sometimes.

Posted by: kayjay503 | May 31, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

pgr88 posted May 29, 2010 12:14 AM "Wow - I wish a reporter, ANY reporter investigated Obama's life-story, especially his fictional autobiography, with just 10% of the effort being focused on Palin."
Several people have. There's "The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama" by David Remnick. There's "Game Change", by John Heilemann. "The Year of Obama: How Obama Won the White House" by Larry Sabato. Richard Wolffe wrote "Renegade: The Making of a President", and Jonathan Alter wrote "The Promise".

I imagine none of these two books are right-wing or ax-grinding enough for you, though. Perhaps you can suggest Ann Coulter or Pat Buchanan write an Obama biography.

BTW, 10% effort fact-checking Palin's novel revealed that about 10% of it was true.

Posted by: kayjay503 | May 31, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Lastly, let me point out how juvenile, unintelligent and scatological most of the rest of the Palinbot comments here are from yesterday and today.

No thanks for dragging the level of discussion here down to your usual rightwing-fanatic-website level.

Posted by: kayjay503 | May 31, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

One only has to read some of the comments on here to know the level of insanity that permeates the radical left and their obsession with Sarah Palin. This guy is a creep and possibly a stalker. Who, in their right mind, would want him looking into their daughter's bedroom? With the nutjobs that are in meltdown over Sarah, she has every right to be concerned.

Posted by: somberjules | June 1, 2010 9:41 AM | Report abuse


You support Sarah Palin in all earnestness and we're nutjobs?

Posted by: bostskin | June 1, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Go Joe Go!

Posted by: atroncale1 | June 1, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Go Joe Go! Question is, what does he have to write about? There is nothing there. Empty heads.

Posted by: atroncale1 | June 1, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

This photo illustration is libelous in that it suggests this writer is staring at her home through binoculars. Take it down. It makes WaPo look desperate for a crime where there's none. Isn't there a war or two on you could cover?

If Palin doesn't want her daughters looked at, there is a remedy for that. They are called curtains.

Perhaps she should have bought some before her kids got pregnant. A little sex ed for them apparently wouldn't have hurt, either.

Posted by: achamblee | June 1, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck can continue to make their dumb comments and wild accusations about Joe McGinniss. If something happens to McGinniss, in a court of law they will be held just as guilty and responsible as if they were the one doing the harm. Most people realize this and are careful about not inciting others to take action--apparently Sarah Palin must have been sleeping or talking when this class was taught in Idaho. Or maybe it is time for Sarah Palin to admit that her degree was in general studies, she took a few journalism classes but is exaggerating when she says her MAJOR or DEGREE was in journalism. Just another example of how Sarah doesn't tell the truth........

Posted by: Sheryn | June 1, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

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