'Rogue': Is Sarah Palin book too sleazy?

Joe McGinniss's Sarah Palin book, 'Rogue,' isn't even out till next week but the flaming headlines are already in place.

Stephan Savoia/AP
Even as Sarah Palin contemplates a presidential run, biographer Joe McGinniss serves up a host of salacious charges.

On the Today Show this morning, author Joe McGinniss called Sarah Palin “a phenomenon.” He was referring to her political trajectory, but he could have meant the outsized attention she generates.

McGinniss should know. His dishy investigation into Palin, “Rogue,” has been creating controversy and conversation a-plenty, and it’s not even out yet.

The Daily Beast has the book’s juiciest leaks – namely, that before she was married Sarah had a sexual encounter with a future NBA basketball star (substantiated-ish); that she had an affair with her husband’s business partner (denied by all involved); and that in her youth she used both cocaine and marijuana (unclear).

Incidentally, The National Enquirer covered pretty much the same ground.

For its part, The New York Times was not impressed. Among other things, reviewer Janet Maslin says most of “Rogue” is “dated, petty and easily available to anyone with Internet access.”

Meanwhile, Garry Trudeau, creator of the comic strip “Doonesbury,” excerpted the book’s charges that Palin fired every minority on her staff and wore a push-up bra to meetings in order to get what she wanted. In response, Newsday, Atlanta Journal Constitution, and the Chicago Tribune all pulled Trudeau’s strip for the week.

This is not to say that the biggest hoopla about the book – which will be released on Sept. 20 – is what’s inside it. Most of the fireworks are about real estate. It seems that just as McGinniss was moving to Wasilla to interview Palin’s fellow citizens about the former governor, the house next to Sarah and Todd opened up. McGinniss seized the opportunity, rented the place for the summer, and wrote most the book within spitting distance of his subject.

This fact, along with the book’s seemingly gossip-y content, has generated months of back-and-forth. In brief, McGinniss praises the affordability of his temporary home; Ms. Palin uses her neighbor as yet another example of sensationalist, attacking media; and Mr. Palin calls the whole thing “creepy.”

Kelly Nuxoll is a freelance writer in Washington, D.C.

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