The New York Times Defends Sarah Palin Against ‘Caustic Gossip’

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There's nothing the Internet loves like Sarah Palin rumors. Yesterday, media outlets far and wide were alight with tales of her youthful fling with a future NBA star, drug use, and affairs, the kind of lurid Palin family stories that have become irresistible mainstream fodder over the last three years. The latest surge in gossip is owed to two books due for release on the same day, a memoir by a cast-out member of the Levi Johnston clan, and The Rogue by Joe McGinniss, who famously moved next door to the Palins in Alaska. In today's New York Times, reviewer Janet Maslin offers a clear-eyed take on McGinniss's account, which amounts to an unexpected defense of Sarah Palin from the flagship of the so-called liberal media.

Maslin slams the McGinniss book as ill-conceived, gimmicky, and inconsistent. His verifiable claims, she writes, are "dated, petty and easily available to anyone with Internet access," while the rest is "caustic, unsubstantiated gossip about the Palins, often from unnamed sources like 'one resident' and 'a friend.'" (Mostly men, Maslin notes.) Even Palin's much joked about run-in with basketball star Glen Rice is questionable at best:

Mr. McGinniss did in 2011 make a phone call to the former N.B.A. basketball player Glen Rice, who is black, and prompted him to acknowledge having fond memories of Sarah Heath. While Mr. Rice avoids specifics and uses the words “respectful” and “a sweetheart,” Mr. McGinniss eggs him on with the kind of flagrantly leading question he seems to have habitually asked. In Mr. Rice’s case: “So you never had the feeling she felt bad about having sex with a black guy?”

When McGinniss deals in actual facts, he's "too busy being nasty to be lucid," Maslin writes, dubbing Palin "a clown, a nitwit, a rabid wolf and a lap dancer." Maybe if we stopped funding the Palin rumor cottage industry, "irrelevant" could stand in for every slight.

Update: Todd Palin released a statement this morning condemning the book and citing none other than the Times. "This is a man who has been relentlessly stalking my family to the point of moving in right next door to us to harass us and spy on us to satisfy his creepy obsession with my wife. His book is full of disgusting lies, innuendo, and smears," said Palin, who also quoted directly from Maslin's review.

Sarah Palin Could See This Guy From Her House [NYT]