McGinniss Admits Book Contains 'Tawdry Gossip,' Palin Threatens To Sue

The revelations in The Rogue that Sarah Palin may or may not have hooked up with a black dude and tried drugs at one point in her life failed to stir up the controversy (and book sales) that author Joe McGinniss was hoping for. However, the book has sparked a growing scandal concerning his shoddy reporting.

When we last heard from Andrew Breitbart, he was sharing a photo of Rep. Anthony Weiner's balls with radio DJs. Now he's hoping he can take down McGinniss with some compelling, but less smutty evidence. Last week, the Breitbart posted an email from McGinniss to an anti-Palin blogger in which he appears to admit his book is essentially a professionally-bound Palin burn book.

In the incredibly damning email, dated January 2011, McGinniss says Random House is in the process of fact-checking The Rogue, and he's nervous because, "no one has ever offered documentation of any of the lurid stories about the Palins." He asks blogger Jesse Griffin for help susbstatiating several stories, explaining in detail that he's seen no "factual evidence" that:

a) Todd had sex with a hooker, or with anyone else outside his marriage.
b) Sarah had an affair with Brad Hanson, or anyone else.
c) Track was a druggie who enlisted in the army to avoid a jail term. Or that he vandalized Wasilla school buses.
d) Willow was involved in the vandalism of the empty house in Meadow Lakes. Or that Sarah rushed back from Hawaii to put the lid on that.
e) Trig is not Sarah's natural born child.
f) Bristol was promiscuous as a high schooler and drank and used drugs, or became pregnant again after Tripp's birth.

McGinniss adds, "as Random House lawyers are already pointing out to me–nothing I can cite other than my own reporting rises above the level of tawdry gossip."

According to The Hollywood Reporter McGinniss claims that he did more reporting after the email was sent and found credible sources for all of these accusations. Griffin has defended McGinniss, and says the only way someone could have obtained the email was if they hacked into his account.

Regardless of how the email was obtained, it's fueled new claims that the book contains lies about the Palins — not that we really needed another reason to doubt McGinniss' reporting. McGinniss now claims that Joe Scarborough, Keith Olbermann, and others have canceled scheduled appearances with him because "they saw which way the wind was blowing." However, this probably has more to do with The Rogue being universally panned weeks ago based solely on its content.

The Palins already denounced the book, but it seems the email may have encouraged them to take legal action against McGinniss. Yesterday John Tiemessen, Sarah Palin's attorney, wrote a letter to the publisher of Crown Publishing Group, the division of Random House that published The Rouge. The letter, which is available in full from ABC News, contains a copy of the email and cites McGinniss' "tawdry gossip" comment. Tiemessen warns Crown Publishing not to delete any emails and writes:

Since both your company, and the author, clearly knew the statements were false, admitted they had no basis in fact or reality, but decided to publish in order to harm Governor Palin's family, you and Mr. McGinniss have defamed the Palins. This letter shall serve as written notice under AS.09.30.070 (b) that a claim may be brought against you, your company and Mr. McGinniss for knowingly publishing false statements.

If the Palins go forward with a lawsuit, it won't be the first time McGinniss' work has led to a lawsuit and questions about his methods. McGinniss' 1983 book about an Army doctor convicted of brutally murdering his family was the subject of a lawsuit that was settled for $325,000. The incident inspired the New Yorker piece "The Journalist and the Murderer," a seminal work on journalism ethics that contends McGinniss behavior toward his subject was "morally indefensible."

Joe McGinniss Responds To Leaked E-Mail. [Immoral Minority]
Explosive Email Shows Anti-Palin Author McGinniss, Random House Likely Published Literary Hoax (Updated) [Breitbart's Big Journalism]
Sarah Palin Book Publisher, Author Under Fire After Personal E-mails Leak [Hollywood Reporter]
Sarah Palin Threatens to Sue ‘Rogue' Book Publisher [ABC News]