Does Sarah Palin Know that Discovery Works Both Ways?

I have mixed feelings about the Joe McGinness book about Sarah Palin ranging from “I don’t care” to “that seems like a cheap shot” to “has anyone in the media read this before dismissing it?” Which is not to say that I want to read it, but I find there to be something weird about the number of journalists who made such a public spectacle out of refusing to be among the tawdry who did read it.

Hello, journalists. You are, by definition, tawdry. It is your job to read the crap and report on what’s actually newsworthy in there so that I don’t have to. Do I believe that you necessarily know what’s newsworthy? No. Does that excuse you from actually reading things? No.

This is why I can both believe that Trigg is Palin’s child AND think that no one in the media did their jobs nailing that story down.

So, Joe McGinniss. Yes, it’s creepy. But it was bound to be creepy.

Here’s the thing, though. McGinniss has been pretty open about his writing process. He has a blog. He talked regularly about the things he could confirm, the things he couldn’t, the people who would talk to him, the people who wouldn’t, the information he could get, and the information he couldn’t and why he thought that was the case.

Part of it, obviously, is that McGinniss is just a writer. He can’t compel people to talk to him. He can’t compel businesses to give him documents. He can’t get court documents on a sealed divorce case. So, whatever it is he thinks he knows, there’s just some stuff he can’t prove. Because he doesn’t have the weight of the legal system behind him.

Unless Palin sues him. Then he has the whole discovery process to get his hands on things he couldn’t get while he was writing the book.

This is what I find both baffling and weirdly familiar about Palin. I get the impulse to strike back as hard as you feel you’ve been hit. I even well-know how the queen bee in a small town gets used to running the town through fear and intimidation. And I get that those impulses, when they’ve worked for you your whole life, don’t go away just because you’re on a national stage.

But is there no one, no trusted adviser to Palin who explains to her that discovery works both ways? Can she not see how this has the potential to make matters worse for her?

It’s weird.

10 thoughts on “Does Sarah Palin Know that Discovery Works Both Ways?

  1. I agree with you. It IS weird. It’ll be interesting to see if her “handlers” are smart enough to keep her from filing suit. Then again, she does love the spotlight. I’m for whatever keeps her away from Washington.

  2. This is reminding me of My Cousin Vinny: “it’s called dis-cov-ry. They hafta show you everything they got!”

    I find it difficult to imagine that Palin has a competent legal team. There’s bottom-feeding, and then there’s BOTTOM-FEEDING.

  3. The absurdity of Palin’s position is that she is a public figure in the worst sense {try keeping her out of the news} so the Sullivan test would seem to make any suit by her un-winnable against a legitimate journalist like McGinnis.

  4. Eh, I agree with you and everything that’s been said here, but if she were to file a lawsuit and they were to undergo discovery, I can’t imagine that the judge wouldn’t slap a gag order on everything.

  5. Goldni,

    That is an excellent point but do you think that either side would actually abide by the letter of the gag order, much less the spirit? I can imagine Palin’s people and McGinnis’ publisher both leaking things to keep the media focused on the inevitable freak show.

  6. Well, IF the case gets to the discovery phase that will be a long, long way off. So long off that by then, no one will give a shit.

    Conservative activists and media figures like Palin love to use the media and that’s all these claims of a lawsuit are: a PR ploy. This is how they operate. Every time conservative activists come up with some nonsense about the opposition — the Clintons had all of their friends offed, McCain had an illegitimate black child, Max Cleland faked his war injuries, etc. etc. — the rejoinder is always, “well if it’s not true, why don’t they sue! Huh? HUH?!!”

    So that’s why she’s suing. It won’t go anywhere. I would bet on it. It will quietly go away and a couple of lawyers will make some money and once the spotlight is off, paperwork won’t be filed and deadlines will be missed.

    Two words, people: political theater.

  7. SB,

    I agree with you about Palin. She seems to be devoted to living her life as performance art, really bad performance art to be sure, but certainly performance art. If she sues, it will be more for the attention than for any expectation of victory. She might even create a’defense fund’ so she won’t have to pay for her legal expenses herself.

    Conservatives are not the only people who come up with nonsense. I remember when Democrats in Congress wanted to hold hearings on whether or not G.H.W. Bush had flown to Paris in an SR-71 {the only airplane capable of making the trip in the suggested time frame} to meet with representatives of the Ayatollah to ensure that the hostages would not be released before the 1980 elections. And Oliver Stone movies are awash with liberal fictions sold as history.

    My all time favorite such suit was when Lillian Hellman sued Mary McCarthy for the comment: “Everything she {Hellman} writes is a lie. Including the ‘ands’ and ‘thes.'”

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