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Did “Privacy Advocate” Palin Violate McGinniss’s Privacy Rights?

Apparently, Sarah Palin spends the first part of her first episode of “Sarah Palin’s Alaska: The UnPalining” moaning about her privacy rights. Which is an odd thing for a newly hatched reality teevee star to worry about:

The first episode of Sarah Palin’s new show, “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” has been placed online and it starts with what is now a familiar lament about the intrusiveness of the press from the former Alaska Governor.

The specific grievance is directed at Joe McGinniss, the freelance reporter who over the course of the summer camped up in the house next to Palin’s home in Alaska. And in terms a bit more candid than expressed at the time, Palin offers her displeasure.

Joe McGinniss, meantime, thinks Palin’s production company is in serious violation of his own right to privacy:

This law firm represents Joe McGinniss. It has come to our attention that the first episode (titled “Mamma Grizzly”) of the above referenced television show, scheduled to air on Sunday, November 14, 2010 at 9:00 PM on TLC, contains unauthorized videotaped images of Mr. McGinniss which were obtained without his knowledge or consent. In addition, you have already placed a video clip containing this image of Mr. McGinniss on your website and it has been picked up and reproduced by the Huffington Post and many other online sites.

Mr. McGinniss was not asked if any production crew could videotape him as he read a book on the secluded deck of the house he was living in at that time. He was not aware that any camera crew was in fact videotaping him. Mr. McGinniss had a reasonable expectation of privacy under those circumstances. The mere taking of the video therefore gives rise to an actionable claim for invasion of his privacy. The publication of the video on your website and in the television show constitutes an additional wrong – the unauthorized use of the likeness of Mr. McGinniss. Finally, the manner in which Ms. Palin describes Mr. McGinniss in the episode is defamatory: Mr. McGinniss has never invaded the Palins’ privacy, contrary to the many statements made by Ms. Palin and her husband, both prior to this television production, and now repeated in the episode referenced above.

Now, both characters in this drama will have new books to sell soon. But the stunning lack of irony, or self-assessment, on Sarah Palin’s part continues to amaze. Do she and her show make this privacy point knowing full well that McGinniss will have a claim against them, thus bumping up the buzz? Or does she simply not get the point? Or do they not care, since McGinniss is in her world a lower form of life, known as ‘other people?’

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