— Before he even wrote a word about Sarah Palin, best-selling author Joe McGinniss was generating headlines just for being her next-door neighbor in Alaska.
Turns out that having an inquisitive neighbor was just the tip of the iceberg for Palin now that details from McGinniss’s bombshell-filled book, “The Rogue,’’ have been released. The best-selling political author did not mince words in an exclusive interview with TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie on Thursday about his 318-page takedown of the former vice presidential candidate in which he interviewed approximately 200 of Palin’s former acquaintances, associates and friends during his four months renting the house next door to Palin in Wasilla, Alaska.
In the book, McGinniss intimates that Palin’s marriage may not be on solid ground, depicts her as using her children as props for her political and reality television career, writes of a salacious encounter with a former professional basketball star, and claims that she and her husband have snorted cocaine. That’s in addition to dismissing her as a politician.
“An utter fraud,’’ McGinniss said of the former governor. “An absolute and utter fraud.’’
As for his calling Palin a “tenth-grade mean girl,’’ McGinniss said that was practically high praise compared to how those in Wasilla described the Fox News pundit.
“Those were kind words compared to a lot of what you would hear in Wasilla today,’’ McGinniss said. “The thing that I found, Savannah, that really surprised me was that the people who know her best like her least.’’
Her political career is not depicted in a much more flattering light, either, as she is portrayed as a hands-off governor and a ruthless political opportunist who did not live up to her “fiscal conservative’’ billing.
“At best, she is a hypocrite,’’ McGinniss said. “At worst, she is a vindictive hypocrite.’’
He does not believe Palin will enter the Republican fray in a bid to run for President, even as she makes the rounds for appearances in early primary states.
“I think she is going for the easy money,’’ McGinniss said. “She is going to take the path of least resistance. I don't think that she is going to run for President.’’
McGinniss, a best-selling author who has been writing about politics since 1968, drew Palin’s ire almost immediately upon moving in next to the self-proclaimed “mama grizzly’’ and her cubs. He said it was merely happenstance that the woman who lived next door to the Palin family happened to be renting her house to him. He claims that he was not there to spy on the Palins and that nothing he gathered by living next door was included in the book, yet makes himself a character in the narrative when he describes Palin’s husband, Todd, stomping across his lawn to confront him.
The Palins felt that McGinniss’s presence was creepy and let the world know about it.
“You know, like Todd says, some people just need to get a life,’’ Sarah Palin told Fox News when asked about McGinniss. “Well, bless his heart. He needs to get a life.’’
“I was surprised at Sarah's reaction, but it taught me something very interesting — she overreacts,’’ McGinniss said. “She has no modulation in her responses to stress. In other words, she freaks out.’’
“People who've known that family for the entire period of time that those children were growing up told me in ways that I found very believable that Sarah Palin was virtually nonexistent as a mother,’’ McGinniss said.
He also alleges a sexual encounter between Palin and former NBA star Glen Rice in 1987 when she was a sports reporter for a television station in Anchorage before she was married to Todd.
“In a short time, we got to know a lot about one another,’’ Rice told McGinniss. “It was all done in a respectful way, nothing hurried. She was a gorgeous woman, super nice. I was blown away by her. Afterward, she was a big crush that I had.’’
McGinniss also writes that Todd and Sarah Palin used cocaine in their youth, claims he heard from people who said they were “on the end of the straw’’ right next to the couple in their younger days.
“I'm not saying that Todd and Sarah Palin today abuse cocaine or even use it, but there's no question that they both did at one point in their lives,’’ he said.
Yesterday, Todd Palin released an official statement to NBC:
“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. He traffics in innuendo and falsehoods. A few years ago he interviewed members of Sarah's administration for a magazine article, and afterwards they said that he was the most disingenuous and intellectual dishonest writer they'd ever dealt with. He's spent the last year interviewing marginal figures with an axe to grind in order to churn out a hit piece to satisfy his own creepy obsession with my wife. I'd ask that people consider these facts when evaluating his latest lies.
"I'd ask the fathers and husbands of America to consider our privacy when one summer day I found this guy on the deck of the rental property, just 18 feet away next door to us, staring like a creep at my wife while she mowed the lawn in her shorts, unbeknownst to her that he was prying. As well as our teenage daughters while they tried to enjoy our traditional Alaskan summer days outdoors. Joe's son told the media he advised his dad not to move from the East Coast to become our next door neighbor, but said his dad 'was just waiting for Todd to be out of the picture.' Sarah has never spoken to this intruder into our lives, our friends and family don't speak to him, so we have no idea where he would come up with content for his book. He was on our doorstep one day trying to make conversation with our son until Track cut the conversation short after discerning Joe's odd behavior, and I spoke to him one time when I saw him 18 feet away, just to find out who he was. He took that conversation and reported it to the media as me 'threatening' him."
McGinniss admitted that he did not gain access to Palin's inner circle, but feels he presented the facts evenly.
“I think I was as fair as I could possibly have been given the fact that she told all the people who were closest to her not to talk to me,’’ he said.