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Best-Selling Author Joe McGinniss Dead at 71

Jack Owens/The Denver Post via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Joe McGinniss, a best-selling political and investigative reporter who became a thorn in the side of Sarah Palin, has died from complications related to prostate cancer. He was 71.

McGinniss catapulted to fame with the 1969 publication of The Selling of the President 1968, an accounting of how then-candidate Richard Nixon was successfully marketed to the public through television appearances that showed a “new and improved” Nixon, supposedly different from the GOP nominee who lost to John F. Kennedy in 1960.

Later, McGinniss wrote Fatal Vision that told the real-life story of physician and former Green Beret Jeffrey MacDonald, who was found guilty of brutally murdering his wife and children in 1970 at Fort Bragg, N.C.

MacDonald had blamed a gang of murderous hippies for the crime and hired McGinniss to present his side in hopes of being absolved. The author, however, came to believe that MacDonald was responsible for the murders and said so in his book. MacDonald, now 70, remains in prison.

In 2011, McGinniss published The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin, which he asserted would expose “the messy reality beneath the glossy Palin myth.”

He annoyed the former half-term Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate by moving next to the family home in Wasilla, Alaska, in order to research the book that did not turn out to be the blockbuster McGinniss had hoped it would.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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