Sunday, May 8, 2011

Interview with Geoffrey Dunn about his upcoming book "The Lies of Sarah Palin - The Untold Story Behind Her Relentless Quest for Power"

By Patrick

We were given the opportunity to interview Geoffrey Dunn about his upcoming book "The Lies of Sarah Palin - The Untold Story Behind Her Relentless Quest for Power." The book will be released on Tuesday, May 10.

Fortunately we were lucky enough to have received an advance copy from the publishers therefore we have already read significant portions of the book and I can assure you that you will not be disappointed if you have ordered a copy. Geoffrey Dunn had access to a huge number of excellent sources, many of whom went on the record, as well as access to a large amount of previously unpublished material. Geoffrey wrote what I consider the ultimate biography of Sarah Palin's political career - starting with her days at Wasilla High School. The book is fact-checked up to the smallest details, and clearly sets a benchmark for all the other books regarding Sarah Palin which are to follow this year. The book is incredibly well written, packed with facts and a great achievement by Geoffrey Dunn.

Short bio, courtesy of St. Martin's Press:

Geoffrey Dunn is an award-winning author and documentary filmmaker with more than three decades experience as an investigative reporter. A frequent contributor to The Huffington Post, where he has broken several national stories on Sarah Palin since the 2008 presidential campaign, Dunn has also served as a Senior Editor for Metro Newspapers in Northern California, where he has received awards for investigative journalism from the National Newspaper Association, the California Newspaper Publishers Association, and the Peninsula Press Club. His documentary films include the award-winning Calypso Dreams; Miss…or Myth?; and Dollar a Day, 10¢ a Dance. Dunn received a B.A. in politics (with honors), as well as an M.A. and Ph.D. in sociology, from the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he has taught courses in documentary film, nonfiction writing and American political history and culture. He received an Excellence in Teaching Award there in 2000. Dunn was raised in an Italian-American fishing community and worked in the Pacific Coast fishery industry until the mid-1980s.

Here are our questions and Geoffrey Dunn's answers:

1. Do you believe that the "parenting techniques" of Chuck Heath, Sarah Palin's father, shaped her entire life, due to his attitude of "win at all costs" and "lie, cheat, steal just to win?"

Dunn: As I note in my book, The Lies of Sarah Palin, I believe that Chuck Heath clearly shaped Sarah Palin’s personality and her world view. The person who has consistently made the harshest comments about Sarah Palin in public interviews has been Chuck Heath. He’s a definitive figure in her life. Recall the moment in “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” where Palin shoots the caribou. That pretty much says it all.

2. What's the most shocking thing you learned about Sarah Palin when you were conducting your investigations?

Dunn: That she openly betrayed John McCain on the campaign trail. If you think about that, it’s “shocking.” But people haven’t really grasped that about Palin’s behavior in 2008. I think that Steve Schmidt gets it—and that’s why he’s spoken out against her behavior during the McCain campaign. He is an extremely loyal figure. He gets it.

That said, nothing—nothing—shocks me any more about Palin. Nothing.

3. During your trip to Alaska, did you find that most people were reluctant to answer questions about her and her direct family, and if so, why do you think that was?

Dunn: I had the opportunity to meet several people who knew Palin in Alaska. Some people were afraid. And they have reason to be afraid. But I developed the trust of most of my sources. I think I have something like 60 different people on-the-record from Alaska. They are not afraid of Palin. Many people told me the Heath-Palin clan are bullies—but that they don’t have the guts to challenge people themselves. Some people likened them to the mafia. I don’t give them that power.

4. Why do you think Sarah Palin never speaks about her mother?

Dunn: I really don’t know. And I don’t want to venture a guess.

Geoffrey Dunn

5. Do you think that Sarah Palin has committed any acts for which she should have been prosecuted, and if so, why do you think she escaped prosecution for them.

Dunn: It’s my belief that Palin was not entirely forthcoming with investigators around Troopergate. But even though she gave sworn testimony, my attempts to get her deposition were thwarted by the Alaska Attorney General’s office. There’s no transparency in Alaska government. There is a culture of corruption. So I can’t say with certainty that she committed perjury, but I suspect that she did. I would hope that authorities in Alaska would re-open the Troopergate investigation and explore this issue. I did have one of Frank Bailey’s sworn statements leaked to me. There appear to be discrepancies between that statement and what he said in the leaked draft of his forthcoming book. Palin’s minions protected her. But if Barry Bonds can be brought to trial over his testimony about taking steroids for a baseball game, then surely the Governor of Alaska should be held accountable for sworn testimony that she gave about abuse of power.

6. In your book you explain on pp. 56, 57 that Sarah Palin had filled out an application form for the position of police dispatcher in March 1996. In this signed form, Sarah Palin declared that the information is "true or complete to the best of my knowledge." Sarah Palin listed in this form solely the University of Idaho where she indicated that she had completed five years with a course of study "Political Science/Journalism." The document was notarized on March 12, 1996.

On her resume accompanying the application, she mentions that she completed a "minor in political science" and also added "political science studies" to her list of "specialized training." Then comes a more curious representation, as you explain in your book: Under "graduate professional" education she declared "post-grad general studies" for one year, despite there being no record for her to have ever done so.

(Note by Patrick: In his interview at the Firedoglake Book Salon yesterday, Geoffrey Dunn explained that this document was leaked to him).

Our readers at Politicalgates have had many questions about Sarah Palin's education. Giving the fact that Sarah Palin distorted her education in this form which you mention in your book, do you believe that her "official" story regarding her university education is credible, or do you believe that there could be more distortions in the story the general public currently believes to be true?

Dunn: As I said in my interview on Firedoglake, I challenge Ms. Palin to release her academic records—and I will release mine. I have narrative evaluations for every class I took. Let’s release the documents.

I spoke to an official at the University of Idaho who told me that Palin graduated. She would not confirm a minor. But Palin clearly misrepresented the truth on that application. No one else ever found that application—and it was part of a public trial. Why not? Beats me. But as I said, I don’t trust anything Sarah Palin says anymore. Niente.

Her “D,” by the way, was in micro-economics. And she has the gall to challenge Obama’s handling of the economy? She is self-delusional. She is a fraud. She and Todd couldn’t run their own little snowmachine business. And her marketing and consulting company, “ Rouge Cou,” which means “red neck,” never got off the ground.

7. If you could name the "top three victims" of Sarah Palin, who would they be, and why?

Dunn: 1. John McCain. Because his reputation will always be tainted by her selection. And she destroyed his chance of ever becoming president. Of course, he was careless and reckless in his choosing of her, so I feel no empathy toward him whatsoever. Karma’s a bitch. 2. Walt Monegan. Here’s a guy who’s a lifelong patriot; his father gave up his life for this country; and she sacrificed his career over a personal vendetta against Mike Wooten. Then lied about it. 3. Her children. They will never know what normal is. Ever. Any of them. Celebrity comes with a heavy price tag attached. And Palin’s with a particularly burdensome load.

Let me also add the American people. Palin’s viciousness and her politics of anger on the campaign trail forever changed the tone of American political discourse. She has unleashed the dark side of the American psyche and has given body to the right-wing, racist hatred of talk radio. So in a sense, we have all been victims—across the political spectrum.

8. What do you think were the most disturbing incidents from the point of view of members of the McCain/Palin campaign during the time when Sarah Palin ran for Vice-President?

Dunn: When she knowingly betrayed McCain and brought in Reverend Wright to the campaign—for which she was utterly unapologetic in Going Rogue. And then for her charging with Obama for palling around with terrorists and not being like “us.” It’s a shameful, racist moment in American history. And of course many Republicans still celebrate her for doing so. But I consider it an act of treason. And I mean that. It violates everything this country stands for.

9. What do you think were possible reasons why Sarah Palin stepped back from the Governorship? Does any one reason strike you as being significant?

Dunn: Great question. In my book, I lead up to this decision and provide a variety of variables that led to it. She was besieged from many quarters. But I suspect a big reason, as I note in the book, was Andree McLeod and the ethics complaints she was filing. Palin knew McLeod. They had once been political allies. Close political allies. McLeod provided me access to an email or two that illustrates this closeness. And Palin had to know that McLeod was tougher and smarter and more tenacious than her. In Alaska, McLeod is often demonized for her efforts. But had it not been for Andree, we would never had known the full details of Palin’s governorship. And I doubt that she would have resigned. She probably wouldn’t have run for a second term. But Palin knew what she was up against with Andree. And like Roberto Duran in his immortal bout against Sugar Ray Leonard, she quit. She said “no mas.” I mean, that in itself should disqualify her from ever holding office again.

You know, we all keep looking for the deep-dark secret in the Palin archive. And they keep popping up. But really, the most shocking material about Palin is the stuff we already know. I made that point about the birth of Trig. Her resignation. Her betrayal of McCain. Troopergate. Her erratic, dysfunctional mayorship in Wasilla. It’s already there. We know it.

10. What were the most surprising things you learned about Sarah Palin while doing the research for your book?

Dunn: Like I said, nothing surprises me any more. But when I read Going Rogue—which came out after I had conducted considerable research—and I read her renditions of her marriage, and her parents’ marriage—and I realized these were myths she had constructed to cover up the fact that three generations of her family had been pregnant outside of marriage—including herself, of course, which she has hidden—the appalling hypocrisy of her being an advocate for abstinence just sort of floored me. Because people in Wasilla talked knowingly of it. But like I said, nothing surprises me any more. And nothing will. A little while ago, she lied about the weather. She lies about everything.

That said, and what I think’s important about my book is that all of this is told between two covers. And placed in context. And as one reviewer said, which I liked very much, is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. That is, when you take all of the lies of Sarah Palin together in a single narrative arc, it makes for a very disturbing portrait — one McCain aide called it “devastating”— and I think that’s the strength of the book.

You know, I also discovered that Palin unleashed her minions after me in the summer of 2009 after I realized she had lifted passages about Ronald Reagan from an obscure Newt Gingrich and Craig Shirley article. Had one of my students done anything like that, they would have been kicked out of the university. I’d love to know if Alaska taxpayer dollars—or equipment—were used in that effort. I suspect they were. Just as they were used to go after Mike Wooten.

Many thanks to Geoffrey Dunn! We are all incredibly grateful for his efforts and the opportunity for this interview!


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