Is Joe McGinniss a jerk? Sarah Palin certainly thinks so: she didn’t like it when McGinniss rented the Wasilla house next door to hers while researching and writing The Rogue, his recent book about Palin. But my friend Matt Harwood argues at Truthout that McGinniss really isn’t the sort of person that anybody would want for a neighbor.

Earlier this year, you may recall, a draft manuscript of a tell-all penned by former Palin intimate Frank Bailey was leaked to the press. Harwood alleges that it was McGinniss who deliberately leaked Bailey’s manuscript to the media so as to harm his chances of obtaining a publisher; in Harwood’s telling, McGinniss was afraid that the publication of Bailey’s book might negatively affect the sales of his own. Here’s an e-mail that McGinniss sent to an unnamed recipient in February:

“[Co-author Jeanne Devon’s] proposal could - though it probably won’t, which I can say now that I’ve read the full manuscript attached to the proposal - lead to a book that would come out at the same time as mine and detract from the attention paid to mine by diluting it, thereby hurting my sales, thereby taking money out of my pocket in order that she might have more to put into hers,” wrote McGinniss.

Harwood’s got a lot of e-mails like this from McGinniss in his piece, which is worth a read. It’s not clear that McGinniss is guilty of anything other than disingenuity. But, at the very least, Harwood makes a compelling case that Sarah Palin’s not the only obnoxious person to have ever lived in Wasilla.

Justin Peters is editor-at-large of the Columbia Journalism Review.