(Adds byline, details about the author)
By Alex Dobuzinskis
March 10 Journalist Joe McGinniss, an author who
got up close to his subjects for revealing books such as "The
Selling of the President" and "Fatal Vision," died on Monday at
age 71, his friend and attorney said.
McGinniss died of complications from prostate cancer at
UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, Massachusetts,
lawyer Dennis Holahan said in an email. The author had announced
last year that he was in the advanced stage of the disease.
His 1983 book "Fatal Vision" became a classic of the true
crime genre and was based on unlimited access he gained to
former Green Beret Jeffrey MacDonald and his attorneys during
MacDonald's 1979 murder trial in the deaths of his pregnant wife
and two young daughters in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
MacDonald, who at the time of the 1970 killings was an Army
doctor, was found guilty and is serving three life sentences.
He has maintained the murders were committed by drug-crazed
intruders. McGinniss had begun by expressing support for
MacDonald but ended by concluding in his book that he was guilty
of killing his family.
"I kept trying to find any reason I could to believe that he
was not guilty," McGinniss testified at a 2012 court hearing
where MacDonald sought to be granted a new trial.
New Yorker magazine writer Janet Malcolm, in a 1989 article,
accused McGinnis of displaying the underside of journalism by
deceiving MacDonald with a show of support and then betraying
his confidence, an argument McGinnis vehemently denied.
Born in New York, he attended college in Massachusetts and
early on became a sports reporter before winning a job as a
columnist with the Philadelphia Inquirer.
He gained national attention with the 1969 publication of
"The Selling of the President."
The bestseller gave a behind-the-scenes account of how
advertising and media professionals packaged Republican
presidential nominee Richard Nixon in his successful 1968
campaign for the White House.
One of the main subjects of Nixon's team portrayed in the
book was television producer-turned-media-strategist Roger
Ailes, who is now chairman of Fox News Channel.
McGinniss is also the author of the 2011 book "The Rogue:
Searching for the Real Sarah Palin," an unflattering portrait of
the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee. For the book, he
took up residence next to Palin's home in Wasilla, Alaska.
The author had in 1980 published a book about Alaska, titled
"Going to Extremes", that explored the vestiges of the state's
frontier culture and gave personal descriptions of everyone from
bush pilots to teachers.
He wrote a dozen books in all, including his 1972 novel "The
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Eric
Walsh, Lisa Shumaker and Ken Wills)