Wasilla Paper Warns Palin Author of Deadly Force Law

The fence between former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's lakeside home, rear, and the home being rented by author Joe McGinniss is seen Thursday, May 27, 2010, in Wasilla, Alaska. Palin is making good on a threat to build a fence around her Wasilla home to keep McGinniss _ who is writing a book about her _ from peering in. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen) AP Photo

Good fences make good neighbors - but in Alaska, neighbors can also use deadly force to protect their property. Just sayin', writes Sarah Palin's hometown newspaper in an editorial directed towards her next-door neighbor, journalist Joe McGinniss.
AP Photo
Updated June 3, 11:01 a.m. ET

In an editorial posted on its website Saturday night, Sarah's Palin's hometown newspaper in Wasilla, Alaska, warned author and journalist Joe McGinniss (who has moved next door to Palin as he conducts research for a book on the former governor) about a state law that allows the use of deadly force to defend one's property.

The editorial, titled "Wasilla fence fascinating for national media outlets," paints a disparaging portrait both of McGinniss' work and the national media's coverage of his controversial decision to take up temporary residence so close to Palin.

Its concluding sentence reads, "Finally, those who are fond of Joe McGinnis [sic] might remind him (if he doesn't already know) that Alaska has a law that allows the use of deadly force in protection of life and property."

Managing editor Tom Mitchell, who wrote the editorial, said that it was vetted by the Frontiersman's publisher, Kari Sleight, and a reporter at the newspaper.

"I didn't see it as being controversial. It's just a statement of fact," Mitchell told CBS News. "Plus, it was intended to be more humorous than anything."

Mitchell added that he wrote the editorial because he was surprised by how much national interest the controversy had generated.

"I don't think Joe McGinniss is a violent guy, no, and I don't believe anyone around here would bother about taking offense," he said.

An editor's note was later added to the editorial apologizing for being "a bit too creative" in the concluding sentence.

"I certainly did not mean to suggest that McGinnis would or should be the victim of violence," Mitchell wrote. "For that matter, I didn't mean to suggest the Palins would do such a thing."

The controversy surrounding McGinniss' move next door to Palin became public when the former governor wrote a note on her Facebook page sarcastically welcoming McGinniss to the neighborhood. Along with the note, Palin posted a photograph of McGinniss looking over the balcony of his rented home.

The Palin family then constructed a fence to physically divide their property from the rental home.

Next, Palin called into Glenn Beck's radio show to reiterate her concerns about McGinniss, the bestselling author of "The Selling of the President," about Richard Nixon's 1968 presidential campaign. Last year, McGinniss penned a magazine piece that was highly critical of Palin's work on the proposed Alaska natural gas pipeline.

"He's an odd character, if you look at his history, and the things that he's written and the things he's been engaged in," Palin told Beck.

On Saturday, McGinniss told his side of the story to the Washington Post, emphasizing that he respected Palin's privacy and was not interested in spying on her children, as Palin had suggested he was.

"Look, this is a pain in the ass for them," he told the Post. "I understand that. If I were her, I'd be upset. I'd be annoyed. But I'd be an adult about it, and I would figure out, okay, how can we resolve this in a way that's not going to make this into something that everybody gets obsessive about?

"By being here, I have learned things, and I've gotten an insight into her character, into her ability to incite hatred, that before I only knew about in the abstract."

Before getting into politics, Palin worked briefly at the Frontiersman as a sports reporter. As a vice presidential candidate in September of 2008, she took time out from her hectic campaign schedule to submit written answers to a long list of questions from the newspaper.

Scott Conroy is a CBS News digital journalist, and is the co-author of "Sarah from Alaska: The Sudden Rise and Brutal Education of a New Conservative Superstar."

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    Scott Conroy is a National Political Reporter for RealClearPolitics and a contributor for CBS News.

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