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Sarah Palin is using the publication of Errol Morris’s new book A Wilderness of Error to launch a new attack on Joe McGinniss, who wrote about her in his 2011 book The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin, telling The Hollywood Reporter that McGinniss is “a stone cold manipulative liar.”
At first glance, Palin, the former Alaska Governor and current conservative standard-bearer, and Morris, the Oscar-winning director of the 2003 documentary The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara, would seem to be strange bedfellows. But they have found a common enemy in McGinniss, who in addition to writing about Palin, penned the 1983 crime book Fatal Vision, which found former Green Beret Jeffrey MacDonald guilty of killing his wife and children. Convicted in 1979, MacDonald is currently serving three consecutive life sentences. Morris, whose 1988 doc The Thin Blue Line led to the release of a man unjustly convicted of murder in Texas, reopens the MacDonald case in his new book, Wilderness, and while he doesn’t conclusively exonerate him, he raises plenty of questions, dramatizes an alternative narrative of the case, and directs scathing criticism at McGinniss’ damning book.
Asked to review Morris’ book for Breitbart.com, Palin did not hesitate to endorse Morris’ version of events. As Palin explained to THR, “As many people have witnessed, and I can certainly testify to after he moved in next door to write his fictional book about the Palins, Joe McGinniss is a stone cold manipulative liar. He has viciously and cynically lied about my family and me, and I’ve no doubt that he has lied about others in his other books.”
In her rave review of Morris’s book, Palin writes, “I realize that what McGinniss did to thrash [sic] 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).” Continues Palin, “MacDonald signed a contract giving McGinniss exclusive rights to his life story, and so McGinniss was given unprecedented access to the defense team – living with them, working with them, eating with them. But when the guilty verdict came down, McGinniss did a one-eighty on them. Apparently, falsely convicted men don’t make for good books. McGinniss decided it was a better story to agree with the jury.“
Is MacDonald “a murderer or an innocent man wrongfully convicted and then betrayed by a writer who lured the public into complacently accepting a false narrative? I don’t know with 100 percent certainty,” writes Palin.
Morris tells THR that McGinniss’ book is “just silly” and compares MacDonald’s prosecution to “the Salem witch trials.” Morris writes that McGinniss is “a craven and sloppy journalist who confabulated, lied, and betrayed while ostensibly telling a story about a man who confabulated, lied, and betrayed.” Morris, McGinniss and MacDonald went to Wilmington, N.C. for a Sept. 17 hearing that could get MacDonald a new trial. Crucial evidence includes a DNA test of a hair found under MacDonald’s dead daughter’s fingernail and testimony that a prosecutor threatened to charge potential defense witness Helena Stoeckley with murder if she testified that she had been at the murder scene. In court, she denied it. She died in 1983.
“Consistently over the years, Stoeckley continued to say she was in the house that night,” Morris tells THR. “A lie detector showed she believed she was telling the truth. There are many, many, many people she confessed to. But the jury never got to hear it.” Stoeckley also confessed to 60 Minutes. Stoeckley’s brother told Morris that she told their mother that her addict gang invaded MacDonald’s home “to intimidate him” and “it got out of hand.”
“MacDonald was an ER physician known to be a hardass about drugs, and he did have run-ins with members of the Fayetteville community, drug users, etc.,” says Morris. “Whether that plays a role in this case has never been firmly established.”
Asked to respond to Morris and Palin, McGinniss said in a statement forwarded by his publisher, “Jeffrey MacDonald was convicted of the murders of his wife and two young daughters in 1979. In all the years since, every court that has considered the case — including the United States Supreme Court — has upheld that verdict in every respect. MacDonald is guilty not simply beyond a reasonable doubt, but beyond any doubt. No amount of speculation, conjecture and innuendo can change that.”
On Twitter, McGinniss added, echoing Palin’s disdain of mainstream media, “MSM are suckers for a pitchman selling something different. And too lazy to look into proven facts.”
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