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"Larry King gave me a whole hour. It was on the New York Times best-seller list for 17 weeks. When it went into paperback, it was No. 1 for eight weeks, and remained on the list for 14 weeks.

"How was it received? I got more than 6,000 letters from readers all over the country. How could McGinniss ever think he was going to match what I had done? You simply can't write the story of Chappaquiddick without Senatorial Privilege."
And Damore has not forgotten the body slams he took from the "friends" of the Kennedy family who permeate the powerful newspapers in the Northeast.

"The Boston Globe has always been in Kennedy's pocket," Damore said. "They did a vicious piece. They really did a number on me. They sent this reporter to see me. He was from Groton and Yale, and rotten to the core. He was a whore with a silver spoon in his mouth. His name was Alex Beam, and he says I'm paranoid.

"Out comes my book, and he writes me a private apology. He sends me a copy of this inadequate little novel that he wrote and dedicated to his mother. He signs it, 'To Leo, who is persistent.'

"I wrote back to him: 'You savaged me in print because you're a whore, and now you apologize in private. I hope you get terminal cancer.'

"Suddenly, I was hot and everyone was calling me.
"But the New York Times didn't review my book until four months after it had been published.

"When this McGinniss thing broke, a reporter from the Times named Robin Toner called and asked what I thought of McGinniss' methodology.

"I didn't want to bash the guy. I held him in respect as a fellow writer. I figure we're all fellow sufferers here on Earth. Besides, I'm not John Updike. I'm just a worker, like everyone else.

"Of course, I hadn't read the book at this time.
"Just about this time, McGinniss calls a good friend of mine, and he wants a copy of a book called A Bright Shining Moment that Manchester did.

"Apparently, there are examples in that book of Manchester borrowing portions from Hugh Sidey of Time magazine without giving him credit for it.

"Then McGinniss calls me about it.
"You'd really be a good friend,' he says, 'if you'd Fed Ex me a copy of Manchester's book.' So I do it for him.

"Not long after this, I find out what McGinniss has done to me, and I begin exploding all over the place.

"McGinniss hears what I've said about him.
"He calls me up. 'Leo,' he says, 'what have you done to me?'
"More to the point,' I say, 'what have you done to me? You took six and one-half years of blood, sweat and tears, of 18-hour days. . . . How could you do that to me?'

"You know what he said? You know what McGinniss said to me at this point?
"Leo,' he says, 'you gave me permission.'
"Can you imagine? He just doesn't get it. I don't know where his morality is."
Damore halts briefly. Can he be out of breath?

"All I could say to him was, 'You'll get yours. I have this New York lawyer who is one of the best. We are going to take this to a jury that will certainly recognize all this as high theft.'

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Tom Fitzpatrick