Joe McGinniss, scourge of politicos and chronicler of crime, dies at 71

Associated Press | Los Angeles Times 


Stories about author-journalist Joe McGinniss are re-emerging in the wake of news that he died Monday in a Worcester, Mass., hospital from complications of prostate cancer.

He once moved next door to Sarah Palin to gather material for his unauthorized biography about her, according to the Associated Press. The subject of his best-selling book, “Fatal Vision,” sued him, claiming McGinniss tricked him into believing the convicted murderer was innocent. McGinniss’ publisher settled out of court for $325,000.

Associated Press reported:

The tall, talkative McGinniss had early dreams of becoming a sports reporter and wrote books about soccer, horse racing and travel. But he was best known for two works that became touchstones in their respective genres — campaign books (”The Selling of the President”) and true crime (”Fatal Vision”). In both cases, he had become fascinated by the difference between public image and private reality.

McGinniss worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer as a columnist while writing the book on Richard Nixon. Nixon’s campaign allowed him access, not suspecting he would turn out a book exposing the soul-less marketing of the presidential candidate. He was unflinching with Democrats as well, although his book, “The Last Brother: The Rise and Fall of Teddy Kennedy,” attributed imagined thoughts to Ted Kennedy and drew rounds of criticism, the Los Angeles Times reported.

On his website, the Times said, McGinniss wrote:

Penetrating the façade of institutions and people in public life can be an exhilarating but risky business. Sometimes the results are culturally ground-breaking and wildly popular, sometimes disillusioning and distinctly unpopular, sometimes personally heartbreaking.

He is survived among others by his wife Nancy Doherty and his son, author Joe McGinniss Jr.

We have made it easy to comment on posts, however we require civility and encourage full names to that end (first initial, last name is OK). Please read our guidelines here before commenting.