The author of a 10,600-word Vanity Fair hit piece on Sarah Palin is defending his work, claiming he set out to defend the former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate, but that the resulting article "was forced on me by the facts."
Michael Gross appeared on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Sept. 2 to discuss his article in the October issue of Vanity Fair. The piece depicts Palin as a volatile, vengeful, mean-spirited figure, although Gross only managed to find one person willing to speak critically of Palin on the record.
"The worst stuff isn't even in there," Gross said on "Morning Joe" when asked about the extreme picture he paints of Palin. "You know, I couldn't believe these stories either when I first heard them and I started the story with the prejudice in her favor. I have a lot in common with this woman. I'm a small town person, I'm a Christian. I think that a lot of her criticisms of the media actually have something to them and I figured she'd gotten a bum ride but everybody close to her tells the same story."
Yet for someone so supposedly enamored with Palin, Gross sure turned quickly. He said Palin is "a person for whom there is no topic too small to lie about," citing a speech in Wichita in which Palin contradicted other statements she'd made about finding out her son, Trig, would have special needs.
"She lies about everything," Gross continued, without offering other examples. "She lies about her personal life. She lies about, she lies about ..."
At one point, Gross said that "if we start returning to the standard that ... a politician has to tell the truth, then she is out of here because she can't stand up to that."
When host Willie Geist pressed Gross on criticism that his piece is a hatchet job, the author maintained that "it's exactly the opposite. As I said before, I started this with every good intention toward her. I was just shocked and appalled at every step at what I found and I wrote this story, you know, sort of against my will. It wasn't what I wanted to write, it wasn't what I wanted to find. It was forced on me by the facts."