"The Selling of the President" was a great exposé of the what it takes to run for President. As the NYT puts it in the obituary (linked above):
When Mr. McGinniss published “The Selling of the President,” his famous account of Richard M. Nixon’s television-centered campaign in 1969, he was only 26. The book went behind the scenes with President Nixon’s consultants and became a model for political reporting.1969, eh? Come on NYT! How hard is it to get the presidential election years right? Especially 1968. 1968 was by far the most dramatic election year of the 13 presidential election years I've watched personally. (I lived through 2 others, but I paid zero attention.) [ADDED: Alternatively, "in 1969" is a the old "misplaced modifier" error.]
Here's the image of Nixon on a pack of cigarettes I've been looking at on the paperback book that's been on my bookshelf for 4 decades:
1968 — the year was even in the title (at the time, not now). Back then, the year made the title funnier, because we understood that the book was a cheeky departure from the sober observations of Theodore H. White in his "The Making of the President 1960" and "The Making of the President 1964." In more noble times, Presidents were made, but the message was the times are now debased, and some imposter, undeserving of the presidency, posed for a bunch of ads. Advertising — !!!! — is used to sell the President and this — this! — is what we got stuck with. Blech! Ashtray mouth!!!
McGinnis also wrote "Fatal Vision," about "the murder trial of Jeffrey MacDonald, an Army doctor and a Green Beret accused of killing his pregnant wife and 2 daughters."
Mr. McGinniss lived with Dr. MacDonald’s defense team during the trial and eventually decided that the jury’s guilty verdict was correct.One of my favorite books ever, "The Journalist and the Murderer," by Janet Malcolm, examines the relationship between a journalist (McGinniss) and his subject (MacDonald). The subject imagines the journalist will be his friend and mouthpiece, getting his story out, and the journalist has every reason to help him think that — every reason if you don't count honesty, decency, and true friendship... and how much honesty, decency, and true friendship is deserved by a man who has killed his pregnant wife and 2 daughters?
So... farewell to Joe McGinniss, who rode the pop culture end of journalism for a good long time.