Joe McGinniss seems to be a master of promoting his Sarah Palin biography in clever and controversial ways. The author originally made headlines when he appointed himself Sarah Palin's biographer and angered the former Alaska governor by renting the house next to hers in Alaska so as to better observe her comings and goings. This month, he gave a copy of the unreleased biography to 'Doonesbury' comicster Garry Trudeau to preview in his daily strip, and it's receiving a lot of media attention. It's "the beginning of a beautiful relationship," writes The Washington Post's Michael Cavna. The collaboration began in last week's strips, which depict Fox News reporter Roland Hedley accidentally receiving an early copy of the book. Hedley's Fox News boss -- seemingly based on real-life Fox News executive Roger Ailes -- asks him to tweet positive spin about any of the book's revelations. Trudeau excerpts actual snippets from the book, and from them, we see how difficult Hedley's "positive spin" task will be. The book does not paint Palin in a flattering light. In one excerpt, Hedley reads: "She didn't want anybody to know she wasn't coming in until ten a.m. and then leaving by three... You know what she was? A housewife who happened to be governor. I'd fly cross country with her many times and she'd spend the whole trip looking at People magazine." Still, in the strip's punchline, Hedley proves himself to be a veritable spin master with his subsequent summary tweet: "New book explodes myth of Sarah not reading."
It's funny, but the cross-promotion isn't without controversy. This morning, The Chicago Tribune noted that it would not run "Doonesbury" on days the strip dealt with the book. "The subject matter does not meet our standards of fairness [because] the strips include excerpts from a book that is not yet on the market and therefore unavailable for review or verification by the Tribune," they wrote in an editorial note. But somehow we think pulling the cartoon from print editions won't do anything to hurt McGinniss or Trudeau. Indeed, everyone here seems to be benefiting from the deal, except of course, Sarah Palin. By venturing into non-fiction and getting an advance scoop on some of the more interesting revelations in the book, Trudeau is getting a lot more press for his strip than he would on your average weekday. And McGinniss is proving once again that a little controversy and some interesting marketing techniques will get your name in headlines. As for Sarah Palin? We suspect she won't be too perturbed. "Doonesbury" has never been very pro-Fox News, so she'll likely see this as more sniping from the "lamestream" media.