July 7 - August 13, 1987: Jeffrey MacDonald vs. Joe McGinniss
August 11, 1987: Testimony of Jeffrey M. Elliot
Rebuttal Witness, Called by the Plaintiff
As far as books, excluding memoirs, or autobiographies, or biographies, people who I interviewed for these books may attempt to sound me out or get a feel for whether I'm empathetic, understanding, etc.; but they will never ask directly: What will you say about me? I would hope that that partially is attributable to the fact of what over these many years in terms of my work; that they don't feel those questions are appropriate.
Now, as far as memoirs or autobiographies, etc., then, of course, it's very common practice if you are writing a book about someone, with someone, to certainly spend a great deal of time talking to them about that project: What you envisage, how you see the scope, the direction, the purpose of the book, them telling you what they would like to see done with the book and -- because it's a collaboration -- and you are, you know, to a large extent a conduit. You are helping them, as a non-writer, to tell their story in the most effective manner possible. So obviously there must be that degree of closeness and harmony in order to do that. But that's very different from books per se, or articles per se, which are not really collaborations.
Q Have you ever told anyone that you were interviewing for purposes of a book, that the book would say one thing about them, when, in fact, you intended to have the book
The Witness: Could you repeat your question, please?
Mr. Bostwick: Could I ask that it be read back, your Honor?
The Court: Yes. Please, read it back.
The Court: Point of clarification: What publication are you making reference to in your question?
Mr. Bostwick: Let me lay a foundation for it, your Honor.
Q Dr. Elliot, when you interviewed Dr. MacDonald, did you have in mind a publisher for the interview?
A Yes, I did.
Q And had you been commissioned to do the interview by someone?
A Yes, I was.
Q Who had commissioned you?
A Playboy magazine.
Q Did you tell Dr. MacDonald any of the conditions to the interview before you interviewed him?
A No. Other than simply to tell him that I would need a minimum of fifteen hours of time in order to do an in-depth interview, and that to do a Playboy interview requires a significant contribution in terms of time and effort, and to see whether or not we could arrange such an interview.