In the 1983 convicted killer Jeffrey MacDonald sued author Joe McGinniss for writing a biased account of his case ('Mcginniss Joe : Fatal Vision (Signet)
'). He nearly won.
Janet Malcolm takes a psychoanalytical into what caused half the jury to vote in favour of a man who had just been convicted of murdering his pregnant wife and two children.
Despite pulling out all the psychoanalytical stops for her investigation into the case, this book is exceptionally accessible to all.
Starting off her analysis of the whole debacle, Malcolm begins by creating analogies between those who open up to journalists and the subjects of Stanley Milgram's famous obedience experiments. It seems like a huge leap but Malcolm strongly believes that when we are in the presence of writers / journo's, we all tend to loose a our self control and become subservient to those throwing the questions - just as Milgram's subjects gave up their self control and followed the order to torture. In a nutshell Malcolm believes subjects are putty in the hands of their manipulative writers, therefore the journalist has a responsibility to deliver the truth without bias.
And this is the springboard for Malcolm's own journey.
Malcolm's investigation leads her on an expedition to find the bias in 'Fatal Vision' and prove her point (that Joe McGinniss was manipulative and deceitful in his account), but in doing so she is be becoming more and more partizan. It seems at one point 'the jokes on her'.
In the end Malcolm acknowledges her own predilection, but uses this only to prove her initial point that the writer a has all that power - which inevitably leads to corruption.
So yes writers are naughty with the facts, but they really can't help it.