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Joe McGinniss

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( b. Dec 09, 1942 New York, New York, USA - d. Mar 10, 2014 Worcester, Massachusetts, USA ) Male
Drawn to the kind of serious subject that had a tabloid sheen, Joe McGinniss was a journalist provocateur whose book-length probes into political lives and horrific crimes often triggered controversy, critical debate and mega-sales.

He was in his mid-20s, a columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer, when he attached himself to the 1968 presidential campaign of Richard M. Nixon to report on the attempt to repackage the candidate and counteract the dour persona that had been forged in his failed runs for the presidency in 1960 and for governor of California in 1962.

The resulting book, "The Selling of the President 1968," depended on the cooperation of the image-making aides themselves -- including a young Roger Ailes, who would later create Fox News -- and it portrayed the Nixon team in an unflattering, cynical light. Influential to this day, it sent signals to candidates of all stripes about the hazards of granting reporters intimate access to the political decision-making process. In another splash-making venture -- one that continued to reverberate for decades -- Mr. McGinniss wrote "Fatal Vision" (1983), a true crime account of the murder trial of Jeffrey MacDonald, an Army doctor and a former Green Beret who was accused of killing his pregnant wife and two daughters. Granted remarkable access by Dr. MacDonald and his defense team, who apparently felt the book would redound to their advantage, Mr. McGinniss nonetheless concluded that the jury had decided correctly in convicting Dr. MacDonald.

"The Selling of the President," in contrast to the respectful "Making of the President" campaign books by the historian Theodore H. White, was redolent of iconoclasm and the countercultural attitude prevalent among his generation of reporters. The book was a mammoth best seller and a revelation to many readers, introducing them to what is well understood as a tenet of political campaigns today: that they are driven by manipulative intent.

The book was later adapted into a Broadway musical that opened at the Shubert Theatre on March 22, 1972.

Source: The New York Times obituary 

ProductionsDate of Productions
The Selling of the President
[Musical, Original]
  • Based on the book by Joe McGinniss
Mar 22, 1972 - Mar 25, 1972
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