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Gene Weingarten: "Since 1979, Brian Murtagh has fought to keep convicted murderer Jeffrey MacDonald in prison"
December 10, 2012 8:18 AM   Subscribe

Gene Weingarten: Since 1979, Brian Murtagh has fought to keep convicted murderer Jeffrey MacDonald in prison. (Here is the single-page link.) Warning: graphic details of the murders of Colette MacDonald and her two small children.
If you are of a certain age, the story is familiar. In the early morning hours of Feb. 17, 1970, in an officer’s apartment at Fort Bragg, N.C., someone savagely attacked Colette MacDonald, 26, and her two daughters, Kimberly, 5, and Kristen, 2... Military police arrived, summoned by a gasping phone call from Capt. Jeffrey MacDonald, 26. He told them he’d been awakened to the screams of his family, and was immediately set upon by scruffy intruders... The doctor’s wounds were trivial, at least compared with those of his family...

Almost from the start, investigators focused on MacDonald, whose account of the attack seemed to contradict the physical evidence: the locations of bloodstains and spatters and of torn fibers from his pajamas, and the lack of evidence of a furious defensive struggle... he was prosecuted in 1979 in federal court, where he was convicted after a six-week trial. The jury was out only six hours. The prosecution’s methodical use of circumstantial evidence had overcome a signal weakness in the case: The state never presented an entirely convincing motive.

The lurid crime was an international story that became even bigger with the publication in 1983 of “Fatal Vision,” the bestseller about the case by journalist Joe McGinniss; the book would lead to a TV miniseries and, later, to an excruciating spasm of self-examination by the media... From prison, MacDonald sued McGinniss for breach of contract, alleging that the writer had betrayed him. During trial and its preparations, McGinniss had been embedded with the defense team, ostensibly to write a book about an unjustly accused man. At some point, the writer became convinced of the doctor’s guilt but never told MacDonald, fearing he would lose the doctor’s cooperation. So, as he was ingratiating himself with the convicted killer, feigning incredulity over the verdict, encouraging MacDonald to send deeply self-revealing letters from prison, McGinniss was writing a book describing MacDonald as a narcissistic, psychopathic monster. McGinniss contends he behaved ethically in dealing with MacDonald under enormously difficult circumstances...

[Brian] Murtagh today is unrecognizable from the news photos of him on the day of the verdict 33 years ago... It was only his second trial ever... Responsibility for the huge case had fallen into his inexperienced hands by default in 1975, when the original lead prosecutor, Victor Worheide, died suddenly of a heart attack.

Murtagh has had an unconventional career: Half his professional life, he estimates, has been consumed by two cases only: the prosecution of Jeffrey MacDonald and the prosecution of the Libyan intelligence officer who masterminded the explosion of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. He won them both.
posted by flex (40 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
In both cases won on circumstantial evidence, with certainly in the latter case strong clues that the person convicted was innocent.
posted by MartinWisse at 8:37 AM on December 10, 2012


The linked article debunks Errol Morris' new book, which attempts to rehabilitate MacDonald's defense involving killer hippies run amok.

Don't read the linked article if you have a good opinion of Morris that you'd rather keep.
posted by Currer Belfry at 8:48 AM on December 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


Killer hippies?
posted by KokuRyu at 8:50 AM on December 10, 2012


They tried to claim it was another group similar to the Manson family.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:52 AM on December 10, 2012


The wikipedia page of Janet Malcolm's article on Fatal Vision is a good read in itself.
posted by fatbird at 8:58 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Currer Belfry: Don't read the linked article if you have a good opinion of Morris that you'd rather keep.

Unfortunately, that's true.

It's unfortunate because the linked article is a helluva gripping read. (Morris redeems himself by about 0.1% with some interesting quotes at the end of the piece, btw.)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 9:04 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


In both cases won on circumstantial evidence

If you call the evidence in the MacDonald case "circumstantial," you're essentially saying that no unwitnessed crime ever actually happened.
posted by Etrigan at 9:06 AM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


No, that's not what he is saying. "Circumstantial" does not mean "unreal".
posted by thelonius at 9:11 AM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was a teenager living in Raleigh at the time of the McDonald murders, and I knew (or knew of) many of the "hippies" in the state of North Carolina at the time, which is to say only a few handfuls or so. The portrait of Helena Stoekley (sp?) and her "gang" that Jeffrey McDonald painted was a ludicrous fantasy based on stereotypes from media sources like LIFE magazine.
posted by The Sprout Queen at 9:12 AM on December 10, 2012 [9 favorites]


Fantastic article – not surprising since it's by Weingarten. The most interesting detail here was that Sarah Palin gave Morris's book a rave review because Joe McGinniss, who wrote Fatal Vision, wrote a book about Palin that was, shall we say, less-than-favorable. (Link above is to Palin's review of the Morris book.)

Paragraphs like this...
McGinniss’ book actually embellished the prosecution’s case – even supplying a motive. According to McGinniss’ theory of the case, MacDonald secretly wanted to break free of his wife and kids and so he murdered them one night in a fit of rage induced by some diet pills he was taking. (Oddly enough, the millions of other people who were also taking those same diet pills somehow avoided murdering their families.)
...will serve to remind you that Sarah Palin is a truly despicable person. The worst sort of narcissist.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:15 AM on December 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


McGinniss contends he behaved ethically in dealing with MacDonald under enormously difficult circumstances

Those difficult circumstances being: "If I didn't keep lying, I wouldn't have gotten my payday."
posted by Egg Shen at 9:15 AM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


So, Egg, if a journalist's subject proves himself to be really blatantly guilty, it's the journalist's responsibility to... stop writing about him? Tell him "Oh, hey, you pretty obviously murdered your wife, so maybe you won't want me listening to you talk any more"?

A journalist's job isn't to be friends with his subject, it's to get the subject to say things that'll lead to the most revealing story. If there was any doubt as to MacDonald's guilt, yours would be a valid argument, but the evidence seems to clearly point at one pretty obvious killer.

(Also, I think the parts involving Brian Murtagh are my favorites. What an impressive man.)
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:19 AM on December 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Here is a link to the NYTimes review of the Morris book.

So, Egg, if a journalist's subject proves himself to be really blatantly guilty, it's the journalist's responsibility to... stop writing about him? Tell him "Oh, hey, you pretty obviously murdered your wife, so maybe you won't want me listening to you talk any more"?

That may or may not be the journalist's responsibility (I tend to think it may be, when you've previously told the subject the opposite), but I think the point here is that there were no "enormously difficult circumstances" that can't be boiled down to not wanting to tell him his conclusions so as to not lose his access. McGinniss wasn't writing to right a wrong, the man had already been convicted.
posted by OmieWise at 9:24 AM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Man, what I wouldn't give for 1% of what Weingarten's got. Fantastic piece, thank you so much!

In both cases won on circumstantial evidence, with certainly in the latter case strong clues that the person convicted was innocent.

Point being?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:39 AM on December 10, 2012


In both cases won on circumstantial evidence

If you call the evidence in the MacDonald case "circumstantial," you're essentially saying that no unwitnessed crime ever actually happened.

No, that's not what he is saying. "Circumstantial" does not mean "unreal".


You're right, and I spoke imprecisely. However, I believe the implication was "Oh, circumstantial evidence. Pffft," and the admittedly circumstantial evidence against MacDonald was incredibly damning.
posted by Etrigan at 9:40 AM on December 10, 2012


The linked article debunks Errol Morris' new book, which attempts to rehabilitate MacDonald's defense involving killer hippies run amok.

“There were wounds in Kristen’s chest that didn’t have corresponding defects in the clothes,” Murtagh says. He talks in lawyer speak.

Weingarten's writing here is so sensationalist, pandering, and anti-intellectual that I wouldn't trust him to give Morris (or anyone else writing about the case, for that matter) a fair and informed evaluation.

Stick to your funny little "men are from Mars" columns, Gene.
posted by ryanshepard at 9:40 AM on December 10, 2012


Wow, metafilter. I'd tell you to stop reading my mind, but it's so convenient to have someone FPP the criminal whose name I was just trying to remember this morning for completely unrelated reasons!

Fantastic article. I wish we got more of this sort of interplay of investigations by journalists. So many "true crime" books and articles are bent, anywhere from just a little to tons, by the perspective of their authors. Even authors who are authoritative and base their writing on solid facts can have their presentations colored. I recently did a write up on another notorious murder case and was surprised to find how much the very well-known author whose book I used as a significant source still represented things in a slightly POV manner. She believed the person was guilty, and that led to a natural tendency to be more sympathetic to victims and less to the perpetrator - not only on stuff like whether she was guilty (which was well-supported with facts and evidence), but also on stuff like whether the victim had had any responsibility for the breaking apart of their marriage, or whether it was all the murderer's fault.

That's not to say that that book, or McGinniss's, or any reputable crime author's, will tend to be inaccurate, but subtle bias is inescapable, and I think the best way to reach a solid conclusion is this back-and-forth of "Well, here's the weakness in your theory." "Ok, here's the weakness in yours." Eventually, (I'd hope) you reach a point where certain things can't be knocked down, at least easily, and then it becomes a lot more likely that you've got something resembling the truth.

As a side note, I think McGinniss was being unethical, from an...well, an ethical standpoint, as opposed to a pragmatic one. Yes, telling McDonald that the premise of the book had changed would have lost McGinniss his access. Nevertheless, that access was granted to him on the basis of him being a sympathetic, or at least open-minded, party, and it was a betrayal to not own up when his standpoint changed. For the sake of the people who were informed by his book, it was a good journalistic choice, but it was still a poor ethical one. Should ethics have trumped journalism here, though? Meh, I'm not sure.
posted by badgermushroomSNAKE at 9:45 AM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


if a journalist's subject proves himself to be really blatantly guilty, it's the journalist's responsibility to... stop writing about him? ... A journalist's job isn't to be friends with his subject, it's to get the subject to say things that'll lead to the most revealing story.

MacDonald's guilt in the murder of his family is irrelevant. In the judge's own words, McGinniss acted like "a con man". And - as OmieWise points out - there was no issue of justice or truth at stake. Only money.

Of course - as Janet Malcolm observed - such fraudulence is at the heart of the journalistic enterprise. So if you want, you can argue that McGinniss was unfairly singled out. But that doesn't make his conduct any less disgusting.
posted by Egg Shen at 9:49 AM on December 10, 2012


Metafilter: don't read the linked article if you have a good opinion of [anything] that you'd rather keep.
posted by Blue_Villain at 9:53 AM on December 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think McGinniss was being unethical, from an...well, an ethical standpoint, as opposed to a pragmatic one. Yes, telling McDonald that the premise of the book had changed would have lost McGinniss his access. Nevertheless, that access was granted to him on the basis of him being a sympathetic, or at least open-minded, party, and it was a betrayal to not own up when his standpoint changed.

Since McGinnis' point of view was changed by the trial evidence, and the access had already been long standing by then, I don't see the ethical failure.

The evidence against MacDonald is and always has been damning. I don't know enough to opine on the Lockerbie case.
posted by bearwife at 10:03 AM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Since McGinnis' point of view was changed by the trial evidence, and the access had already been long standing by then, I don't see the ethical failure.

Yeah, I'm struggling to really put into words what I think the problem is. I guess it's that because the embedding was of such long standing, it was being taken for granted that McGinniss was "on their side". Was it wise to assume he was/remained on the side of the defense? Nope, it was pretty dumb to trust that a journalist who intended to write a factual book would somehow magically write as if McDonald was completely innocent. But still...knowing they were all making that assumption, I can't escape the feeling that the ethical thing to do would have been to have given some sort of heads-up. "You guys know I'm representing all sides of the issue, right?" or "You guys realize I'm basing the book's progression on all the available evidence and testimony, right?" would have done the job at a decent level without torpedoing his relationships with the defense (much).

Perhaps a better summary of my feeling would be that while McGinniss didn't have a responsibility to keep the defense informed of his personal opinion, it would have been the classy/fair thing to do.
posted by badgermushroomSNAKE at 10:23 AM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sarah Palin is a truly despicable person

You'll get no argument from me.

But McGinniss's conduct was the equivalent of Dinesh D'Souza moving in next to Hillary Clinton and then writing a hatchet job that insinuated that she was involved in the death of Vincent Foster.
posted by Egg Shen at 10:28 AM on December 10, 2012


I see what you're saying, badgermushroomSNAKE. But I think McGinnis was more ambivalent about his opinion for longer than many realize. Even in trial, he was having trouble dealing with his personal liking for MacDonald and long standing assumption that MacDonald was innocent, versus the damning evidence he was hearing. It's hard to stand up in the midst of that and say -- guess what, I question your innocence now. I also think McGinnis was truly puzzled about how MacDonald could do this, which is why he spent a fair amount of time in Fatal Vision discussing research he clearly did after he'd started to wonder, on psychopathy.

This is a heck of a good article by the Washington Post. Interestingly, the jury seems to have struggled with the unthinkability of MacDonald's crime just as McGinnis did. Here's the paragraph that sprang out most at me:

This case made Murtagh famous, but it also, ironically, circumscribed his career. Despite his formidable talents, to stay with this case, he has had to remain a federal prosecutor, at government salary, his whole life. He has been the institutional memory of the case, indispensable to fighting a relentless series of appeals, one of which was deeply personal, charging him with misconduct for supposedly suppressing evidence. He won that, too. He has stayed on because of an abstract sense of justice, but also because of a concrete duty he feels to three people who died very badly.

Usually victims don't have this kind of persistent voice in the courtroom. Murtagh is something special, because of course he could have chosen a less loyal path.
posted by bearwife at 10:32 AM on December 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


Usually victims don't have this kind of persistent voice in the courtroom. Murtagh is something special, because of course he could have chosen a less loyal path.

Murtagh did a valuable thing, but I'm unclear why he couldn't have gone on to private practice and been called back to the justice department as a consultant as needed. It's not like the case continually required him to field questions every day for thirty years.
posted by fatbird at 10:41 AM on December 10, 2012


re: "circumstantial evidence"

In David Simon's book "Homicide", he says that the first thing Baltimore prosecutors do in murder cases is to explain to jurors that things they may believe from TV crime shows are completely wrong. His examples: that there will be identifiable fingerprints at every crime scene, that the State must show a motive to get a murder conviction, and that you can't convict someone on circumstantial evidence.
posted by thelonius at 10:51 AM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Murtagh did a valuable thing, but I'm unclear why he couldn't have gone on to private practice and been called back to the justice department as a consultant as needed.

Prosecution doesn't work that way. The government is represented by its own attorneys, not by consultants. Nor would Murtagh have had the access to the records -- and the ability to preserve them -- so key to this case.
posted by bearwife at 10:53 AM on December 10, 2012


Don't read the linked article if you have a good opinion of Morris that you'd rather keep.

I had a good opinion of Morris, which is why I read the book. I don't think he made a compelling case; but I still have a good opinion of Morris. My opinion of him was never based on the idea that he was incapable of error, or even delusion.
posted by steambadger at 10:58 AM on December 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


They weren't hippies. It was a lot more industrial than that.

Acid is groovy. Kill the pigs.
posted by telstar at 11:07 AM on December 10, 2012


I have a mixed opinion of Morris, but I always admire his ability to step back and remind himself and his audience that nothing--no photograph, no story, no evidence, no fact--is presented to you without framing (not even his own framing). And that you must account for the framing when you draw conclusions from what is presented to you. I love Thin Blue Line for the meta-framing. You can't trust his presentation of "what really happened" any more than you can trust the original presentation--some things in that documentary are just as slanted as the corrupt conviction he is documenting. In that case, I believe he was right and that Randall Adams was wrongly convicted.

That Morris thinks there is sufficient information about how the MacDonald case has been presented, how the investigation was framed, and the manner of prosecution to show that the investigation was not objective and the prosecution not as slam-dunk as one might think doesn't harm my opinion of Morris. The failure of prosecutors and prosecution teams (and judges and juries) to accept that the investigating officers might have missed something, that the state's theory of the case might be wrong, that the evidence they were given might not be trustworthy is a consistent failing of justice.

On the otherhand, everything I hear about McGinnis makes me question his judgment in pursuit of a "great" story about Jeffrey MacDonald.
posted by crush-onastick at 11:12 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've been interested in this case since the TV movie of Fatal Vision in 1983. I've read Fatal Vision several times; I recently read it again and read Earl Morris' book again right after.

Morris' main theme is that Helena Stoeckley told a bunch of people that she was involved, so she must've been involved. She confessed and recanted many times to many people and her story changed several times. Ted Gunderson Interview with Helena Stoeckley.

Jeffrey MacDonald's appearance on the Dick Cavett show helped convince his father-in-law that MacDonald was guilty.

The 1989 Epilogue to Fatal Vision is Joe McGinniss's response to Janet Malcolm's "The Journalist and the Murderer" (New Yorker subscription required).

"The Devil and Jeffrey MacDonald," Vanity Fair, July 1998

The Jeffrey MacDonald Information Site has tons of photos and court documents (and auto-playing MIDI).
posted by kirkaracha at 11:16 AM on December 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


But McGinniss's conduct was the equivalent of Dinesh D'Souza moving in next to Hillary Clinton and then writing a hatchet job that insinuated that she was involved in the death of Vincent Foster.

Well, except for the piles of damning evidence regarding the murders of three individuals part. Or were you talking McGinniss moving next door to Palin ? Calling even that a hatchet job, given the circumstances here, is a bit problematic.
posted by y2karl at 11:29 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


MacDonald's guilt in the murder of his family is irrelevant. In the judge's own words, McGinniss acted like "a con man". And - as OmieWise points out - there was no issue of justice or truth at stake. Only money.

Well, the contract that MacDonald signed with McGinness was for half the proceeds from the book. And MacDonald hadn't been convicted before the book was begun; McGinness was there at the trial. I suppose as things went south MacDonald might have thought that McGinness would write a book exonerating him, but that seems... optimistic. At any rate, I do believe that McGinness is a sleaze, but MacDonald is also- he planned to profit off his family's deaths.

Of course - as Janet Malcolm observed - such fraudulence is at the heart of the journalistic enterprise.

Janet Malcolm also admitted to being one of MacDonald's "groupies". Which just proves her point.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:35 AM on December 10, 2012


The Wikipedia page on the case is pretty thorough. The discrepancy between the severity of MacDonald wounds and those of his wife and children is striking.

Collette was "repeatedly clubbed (both her arms were broken) and stabbed 37 times (21 times with an ice pick and 16 times with a knife)." Kimberley was "clubbed in the head and stabbed in the neck with a knife between eight and ten times." Kristen was "stabbed with a knife 33 times and stabbed with an ice pick 15 times." Jeffrey had cuts and bruises, a mild concussion, and "a 'clean, small, sharp' incision that caused one lung to partially collapse."

It's implausible that a gang of murderous hippies would leave an adult male lightly wounded and massacre the rest of the family like that.

There are proven lies in MacDonald's story. He said that Kristen had wet the bed, but it was Kimberly. (Each family member had a different blood type, so it was possible to tell where each person was injured. The pattern of where people were injured doesn't match MacDonald's story.)

Also, "Three times shortly after the murders he'd said, 'Be sure to tell the C.I.D. I took the knife out of my wife's chest'" but "tests indicated that the knife had never been in Colette's chest." As McGinness points out, "Its blade is consistent with a cut on his left sleeve, but on no other injury to anyone."

According to McGinniss’ theory of the case, MacDonald secretly wanted to break free of his wife and kids and so he murdered them one night in a fit of rage induced by some diet pills he was taking.

He was a serial adulterer throughout the marriage. The night of the murders was at the end of a 24-hour shift without sleep. I believe he snapped when he found the wet bed, got into a violent argument with Collette, accidentally killed Kimberly, killed Collette in the struggle, and then murdered Kristen to complete the cover story.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:44 AM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think McGinniss's book about the MacDonald case is terrible journalism, and that Malcolm's book about McGinniss's book is also terrible journalism.

For a while, I thought of writing about that, and then (seriously) I realized that whatever I wrote would probably be either terrible journalism or arcane Pierre Bayard-style literary criticism, so I didn't.

I have the Errol Morris book but haven't read it yet. I am dreading that it is a combo platter of terrible journalism and terrible meta-journalism.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:58 PM on December 10, 2012


.. well, it turns out I'm a sociopath... (better warn my siblings).
posted by a non e mouse at 1:23 PM on December 10, 2012


You know, I don't want to touch the discussion of McGinniss' ethical duty here because journalistic ethics is something I've not taken more than a couple college courses in, but if you read his epilogue to his original book which happens to include tons of transcripts from the trial, it's pretty clear that there was never an agreement in any way, shape, or form, that McGinniss would portray MacDonald is either a good or bad light.


From McGinniss:
MacDonald himself, testifying at both deposition and the trial of our civil suit, conceded that from the start he recognized he would have no control over what I would write.


And then this lengthy bit:

“Do you recall in your discussion with Mr. McGinniss,” my lawyer asked at deposition, “[his] telling you that he would only write the book on the condition that he had total control over what he published and could publish the truth as he saw it?”

“Not in those words,” MacDonald replied.

“Do you recall any similar sentiment or words to that effect?”

“Yes,” MacDonald conceded.

At our civil trial, my lawyer, Daniel Kornstein, asked MacDonald, “You did expect Mr. McGinniss to hear other sides, other versions adverse to yours about the story?”

“Yes, that’s true,” he said.

“And … you never, during these preliminary conversations, told Mr. McGinniss that you wanted him to write a book portraying you as innocent, did you?”

“No, I did not,” MacDonald said.

“And you understood that it was possible that Mr. McGinniss might come to a contrary conclusion?”

“Yes.”

“Did you ever consider what might happen if Mr. McGinniss concluded that you were guilty instead of innocent? Did that thought ever cross your mind?”

”I’m sure that crossed my mind. I can’t recall it specifically happening, but it must have occurred at some time.”

“And when the thought crossed your mind, did you also think whether or not Mr. McGinniss would have the right to conclude that you were guilty?”

“Mr. McGinniss could conclude what he wanted, if it was fair and honest and accurate and nonfiction.”

“And he could write about it that way in the book, couldn’t he?”

“That was my understanding.”

**

I mean, was McGinniss wrong in his handling? Perhaps. But was it an ethical breach when nothing at all was lined out beforehand, aside from who was getting what cut of the money? I really don't think so...

As McGinniss says (and it makes right sense to me given what I've read about MacDonald's personality and view of himself), "But—as is the case with many psychopaths—he was so convinced of his own ability to manipulate, to persuade, to seduce, that he did not see it as such. What we are talking about here is not only pathological narcissism but what I would term “pathological optimism.”"
posted by youandiandaflame at 2:31 PM on December 10, 2012


well, it turns out I'm a sociopath

Holden: The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over. But it can't. Not with out your help. But you're not helping.

Leon's upper lip is quivering.

Leon: Whatya means, I'm not helping?

Holden: I mean you're not helping! Why is that, Leon?


was McGinniss wrong in his handling? Perhaps.

Also, I think it's really, really important to separate this question from the one of MacDonald's guilt or innocence. Without naming names, I feel there's been a tendency to lionize certain viewpoints based on which celebrity writer put pen to paper. To some extent, I really couldn't care less about which of them is "right" right in all this because, as they say, the stakes are so small. Whereas we have lives that were lost, here.
posted by dhartung at 2:47 PM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


[[ But McGinniss's conduct was the equivalent of Dinesh D'Souza moving in next to Hillary Clinton and then writing a hatchet job that insinuated that she was involved in the death of Vincent Foster. ]]

Well, except for the piles of damning evidence regarding the murders of three individuals part. Or were you talking McGinniss moving next door to Palin ? Calling even that a hatchet job, given the circumstances here, is a bit problematic.


I wasn't referring to MacGinniss's conduct in the MacDonald case.

Wikipedia:

In 2009, McGinniss signed a contract to write an unauthorized biography about Palin and began research which took him to Alaska that fall and again in the spring of 2010. In late May he rented a house next door to Palin's home on Lake Lucille in Wasilla. ... The book is reportedly heavy on innuendo, including conjecture that Sarah Palin is not the biological mother of her son, Trig Palin. Early reviews by the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times criticized The Rogue for its use of unnamed sources and for having an obvious anti-Palin agenda.

Palin's loathsomeness notwithstanding, these are the actions of a sleaze merchant.
posted by Egg Shen at 3:23 PM on December 10, 2012


That was a good read, thanks for posting. I've heard of this story several times, but haven't delved into it enough to know anything about the prosecutor or his story. Interesting.
posted by freejinn at 9:40 PM on December 10, 2012


Alternet: How I Changed My Mind About the Jeffrey MacDonald Murder Case
Forebes: Jeffrey MacDonald, Innocence, and the Future of Habeas Corpus

The main link in the OP is pretty convincing to me.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:42 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


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