We’d rather just not write about Sarah Palin. Occasionally, though, the media angle on the frustratingly evil ex-politician is too good to ignore, like yesterday when her rabid supporters joined forces with reasonable people to condemn and ultimately cream the political blog Wonkette for their post cruelly mocking Palin’s song Trig, who was born with Down Syndrome. As of today, the outrage, led by conservative bloggers under the Twitter hashtag #TrigsCrew, led to at least nine advertisers pulling their brand from the website, which will doubtlessly bruise their bottom line. (Whether their tactics are honest or not is another question.) But today, Salon tackles another media issue surrounding Trig and his mother, namely the liberal version of the birther conspiracy. It’s a gross story, but Salon handled it masterfully. Observe in Press Clips, our daily media column.
Motherhood: A new paper that aspires to be academic and Donald Trump’s publicity whoring around the subject of Obama’s birthplace have rekindled the 2008 election conspiracy theory that Sarah Palin is not actually the mother of Trig, but that the then-governor pretended she was either for political gain or because Trig belonged to her teenage daughter Bristol, who had her own baby, Tripp, only eight months later. But nevermind that the dates don’t add up, the Trig birthers insisted — the baby could belong to a third party! (He doesn’t.)
Andrew Sullivan is perhaps the most legitimate journalist to entertain the theory, insisting that Trig was one of the main reasons Palin was chosen as McCain’s VP candidate and insisting that he just doesn’t understand why Palin wouldn’t provide simple proof to put the whole thing to bed. (Yes, that’s the same thing idiots say about Obama being born in Kenya. Which he was not.)
The new paper uses the same tired evidence from three years back — Palin flew after going into labor, she doesn’t look pregnant in some photos, etc. — but also calls out the media for not looking into the issue more and reporting the truth.
That’s the idea that Salon’s Justin Elliott absolutely annihilates. Actually, he writes, the Associated Press did look into it, and the idea that Trig is not Sarah’s is total nonsense:
Steve Quinn, who is now a freelancer, was the Alaska-based Associated Press journalist who wrote the wire story reporting that Palin was pregnant in early March 2008. He told us that rumors were circulating that Palin was not truly pregnant even back then — before she gave birth and well before she was tapped to be John McCain’s running mate. So, like any good reporter, Quinn looked into it — twice — and came away with solid reasons to believe there was no hoax.
According to Quinn, in the days immediately after Palin announced her pregnancy that March, he was in the governor’s office and asked her directly about the rumors. Palin smiled and, Quinn says, lifted an outer layer of clothing to show that she was indeed pregnant. “She was able to show a thin layer of clothing against her stomach that revealed an enlarged abdomen area,” he says.
Elliott has a few more accounts that get to the same point, and Salon also published a first person account today from an additional Alaskan reporter concluding that yes, Trig came out of Sarah’s body. Oh, and here’s a picture of Palin, clearly pregnant on April 13, 2008.
It’s all worth a read, not for Palin, but for the precision with which the reporting — one of the things criticized in the bogus academic paper — was done.
Blog Critic: Also in news about Salon’s Justin Elliott, who might be having his best day ever as a blogger, Donald Trump continued his tradition of writing handwritten notes in Sharpie and ALL CAPS to bloggers on top of printed versions of their online entries. If Trump had a real day job he would probably be fired.
Old School: Reporter turned blogger is reporting on blog.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 22, 2011