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Sarah Palin and the Incredible Birth Story
By Brad Scharlott, PhD Northern Kentucky University
While living in Washington, DC, in February 2010, the now-deceased British intellectual Christopher Hitchens wrote in The Spectator: “An astonishing number of well-informed people tell me that Sarah Palin is not in fact the mother of baby Trig, but that she is ‘covering up’ for another family member whose child he really is.” Then two months later, Bill Maher tweeted his nearly one million followers: “Tina Fey, 5 months pregnant at 40 not showing and no one knew – boy, when she does a Sarah Palin impression, she really commits!” In the first case, it took an Englishman writing in a British newspaper to reveal what many knowledgeable Americans say on the sly but never publicly: that Sarah Palin faked the birth of Trig, her purported fifth biological child. In the second, we see one of those Americans, the iconoclastic humorist Bill Maher, openly making a joke that references the birth hoax rumor, in particular the idea that well into her pregnancy Palin did not “show.” (At seven months, as we shall see, not even her staff knew.) And Maher had to assume that a great many of his followers were in the know about the hoax rumor, or else the joke would make no sense. If so many Americans with whom Hitchens rubbed shoulders – presumably America’s intellectual elite – think Palin faked Trig’s birth, then why has the hoax rumor been virtually taboo in the nation’s media the last four years? It’s true that Andrew Sullivan, a lone voice among nationally prominent bloggers, repeatedly questioned Palin’s birth story (and was flayed for it); but even a popular blog like Sullivan’s The Dish reaches only a tiny portion of the public. The mainstream media blackout has likely been due to various factors, but perhaps the No. 1 reason is that the hoax rumor seems so crazy on its face – it’s stunning to think Palin, the sitting governor of Alaska at the time, would do such a thing. Journalists perhaps have felt they could not question her birth story without ironclad proof of a hoax. Which poses an interesting epistemological question: How do you prove something did not happen? Unless someone inside such a hoax spills the beans, meeting a standard of proof like “beyond a reasonable doubt” can be exceedingly difficult. But not impossible. With enough circumstantial evidence, maybe even he most devious hoax can be exposed.
The Hoax Rumor Hits the Fan On August 29, 2008, the day John McCain named Sarah Palin as his running mate, someone named ArcXIX wrote at the Daily Kos blog site: “Well, Sarah, I'm calling you a liar. And not even a good one. Trig Paxson Van Palin is not your son. He is your grandson.” 1 The author quoted an Anchorage Daily News article by Welsey Loy from March 6: JUNEAU -- Gov. Sarah Palin shocked and awed just about everybody around the Capitol on Wednesday when she announced she's expecting her fifth child.… Palin said she's already about seven months along, with the baby due to arrive in mid-May. That the pregnancy is so advanced astonished all who heard the news. The governor … simply doesn't look pregnant. [Italics added] Even close members of her staff said they only learned this week their boss was expecting. Nearly six months later, on August 31, a Daily News columnist wrote: OK - the Palin baby speculation is inescapable at this point. The left-leaning Daily Kos posted an item Friday … a version of a rumor – long simmering in Alaska – that Palin's daughter Bristol was pregnant and the governor somehow covered it up by pretending to have the baby (Trig) herself. The columnist quoted a Democratic strategist as saying, "Guys, it’s a loser. Can we not do this?" – the point being even if the rumor was true, Democrats might hurt themselves by pursuing it. In late August, journalists must have heard the rumors and wondered where the truth lay. If any of them had read the ArcXIX post at the Daily Kos site a few days earlier, they would have seen this AP photo, which originally appeared on the Anchorage Daily News
“Questions Raised: Does Sarah Palin Really Have a 5th Child? [Photos + Video] UPDATED,” posted by ArcXIX at Daily Kos on August 31, 2008. This update of August 31 includes the post of August 29. [The post is no longer online.] In the update the author backed away from the accusation, apparently agreeing that Democrats were likely to hurt themselves by pursuing it. Barack Obama himself, in reaction to the rumors, asked that reporters leave alone questions relating to the candidates’ families.
on March 14, 2008. On the left is the picture as it appeared on the newspaper’s web site and also in the ArcXIX post. On the right is the same photo lightened.2 The original makes Palin look remarkably trim for a woman in her seventh month. The lightened one, in which details are clearer, shows an unbelievably flat stomach for 44-year-old mother of four who supposedly will give birth in 35 days to a 6 pound, 2 ounce baby. But then, on August 31, a different photo appeared that showed Palin looking quite pregnant. Someone who has never been positively identified, but most likely was Dan Carpenter, an Anchorage TV cameraman, posted this photo at Flickr: The photo shows Palin with a large, round belly being interviewed by Andrea Gusty of KTVA on April 13, five days before the alleged birth. The McCain campaign advisors undoubtedly showed this photo to reporters as proof that Palin had been pregnant. (More on this photo presently.) Then the McCain team aimed to put the hoax rumor to rest on Sept. 1 with a stunning announcement: Sarah Palin’s teenage daughter Bristol was (they claimed) five months pregnant, and she was engaged to marry the father, Levi Johnston.3 Reporters were left to do the math: if Bristol was five months along in early September, then she apparently could not be the mother of Trig, who reportedly was born on April 18. Thus, the logic ran, Sarah must be the mother. Throwing Bristol under the bus like that to quell the rumors seemed odd and needless since supplying Trig’s birth certificate could have settled the matter. Moreover, the logic that Bristol could not be Trig’s mother depended on the unsupported assertion that Trig was born in April. Still, the revelation of Bristol’s pregnancy plus the Gusty-interview photo must have done the trick. Eric Boehlert of Media Matters for America would later write that in 2008, “99 percent of people in ‘the media’ did the right thing and ignored the Trig nonsense.” 4 But was the rumor of a hoax truly nonsense? Hardly.
2 Since this is a nail-in-the-coffin photo – if it’s legitimate, then Palin must have lied about the pregnancy – let me note that I personally copied it from the Anchorage Daily News web site and then lightened it. The photo’s authenticity is beyond question.
Samuel Goldsmith and Clemente Lisi, “Palin Admits her 17-year-old Daughter Is Pregnant,” New York Post (Sept. 1, 2008).
Boehlert, “Palin's now scolding journalists who didn't write about Trig in 2008?” http://alturl.com/c8d3n (July 27, 2010), Media Matters for America; also, about two weeks after McCain named Palin as his running mate, Boehlert wrote, “We haven't seen the name of one reporter who pressured the McCain campaign
The Birth Story: Facts that Don’t Add Up On April 15, 2008, Sarah Palin flew to Texas for a Republican governors conference. Gary Wheeler, a 26-year Alaska state trooper veteran, formerly had accompanied Palin, plus several of her predecessors, on such trips. At the last minute, without explanation, he was told he would not be needed; Sarah’s husband, Todd, would take his place. In her 2009 bestselling autobiography, Going Rogue, Sarah Palin wrote that shortly after 4 in the morning of April 17, 2008, in a hotel room in Dallas, she was awakened by a strange sensation low in her belly – she would later say it leaking amniotic fluid. She claimed she called her personal physician, Dr. Cathy Baldwin-Johnson, who allegedly did not insist that she seek medical attention immediately. Rather, Palin stuck to her schedule, which called for her to give the keynote midmorning speech at the governors’ conference. Palin claimed that as she gave the speech, she felt labor contractions. Upon finishing, she and her husband Todd took off before the conference ended to catch a flight back to Alaska. Todd emailed three of Palin’s top aides and said her speech “kicked ass” but said nothing about her alleged labor nor mentioned that the two of them were returning earlier than expected.5 As to how Palin was able to board a flight while purportedly on the verge of giving birth, a representative of Alaska Air would later tell a reporter, "The stage of her pregnancy was not apparent by observation.”6 The flight back to Alaska took more than 10 hours and included a layover in Seattle. After arriving in Anchorage, the Palins got in their car and allegedly drove for nearly an hour to the Mat-Su Regional Medical Center not far from their Wasilla home. Palin reportedly gave birth around 6:30 the next morning. Palin’s office sent out a press release that day announcing the birth of Trig, saying: “The Palins were thankful that the Governor’s labor began yesterday while she was in Texas … but let up enough for her to travel on Alaska Airlines back to Alaska in time to deliver her second son.…”7 (So far as public accounts show, no Alaska state employee, including her own staff, had any idea that Palin was back in the state until after the birth.)
about Palin's pregnancy,” in “We wish The National Enquirer editor would stop lecturing journalists,” http://mediamatters.org/blog/200809110019 (Sept. 11, 2008). MSNBC Palin Mail Collection, http://crivellawest.net/palin/pdf/1085.pdf (April 17, 2008); the email is shown also in the YouTube video “The Perfidy of Sarah Palin; Chapter 2. The Wild Ride,” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZSVMzeR5jU (Sept. 17, 2010).
5 6 7
See Lisa Demer, “Palins' child diagnosed with Down syndrome,” Anchorage Daily News (April 22, 2008).
Governor Palin has new baby boy – Trig Paxon Van Palin, http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/fnews/2071657/post (April 18, 2008).
The press release did not mention where the birth took place. But a crew from KTUU-TV, alone among local media, showed up at the Mat-Su hospital. (Bill McAllister of KTUU would become her press secretary in July.) The hospital did not list Trig among the babies born that day, nor will it confirm that Palin was even a patient, citing privacy laws.8 The TV crew videotaped Palin’s parents, Chuck and Sally Heath, in a hospital room with Sally holding an infant the Heaths said was their month-premature new grandson, Trig. (Sarah was not present.) Experts have said the baby lacked characteristics of a newborn preemie.9 No picture of Sarah at the hospital that day has ever surfaced. The Mat-Su medical facility lacks a neonatal intensive-care unit, which would make it a bizarre choice for the delivery of a premature special-needs baby to a 44-year-old woman with a history of miscarriages like Palin. (Palin later claimed she had known from testing that the baby had Down syndrome.) The Palins in their return trip passed several large hospitals equipped with neonatal ICUs, including Providence hospital in Anchorage. Dr. Cathy Baldwin-Johnson, who allegedly delivered Trig, has full privileges there. Preemies often need to stay in a neonatal ICU for days or weeks because of jaundice and other issues. Palin’s suggestion that Dr. Baldwin-Johnson agreed to deliver a premature baby at a small regional facility rather than Providence, Alaska’s largest hospital, with a top-rated neonatal ICU – which the Palins had to drive by to get to Mat-Su Regional – simply defies logic and common sense. It would suggest neither Palin nor Baldwin-Johnson cared whether they would have adequate facilities on hand to meet the newborn’s needs.10 Moreover, it seems unlikely, considering the risks, that the hospital would approve Baldwin-Johnson (a general practitioner, not an obstetrician) to deliver a premature special-needs baby. Notably, in 2005, Palin served on the board of the Valley Hospital Association, which at the time oversaw the Mat-Su Regional Medical Center.11 A possible reason Palin claimed that she
Sullivan, “Births At Mat-Su Medical Center In April 2008,” The Atlantic Online http://alturl.com/f5k3y (Oct. 8, 2008).
Lori Tipton, “Welcome to Alaska, Trig Paxson Van Palin,” KTUU-TV, http://alturl.com/2ue6n (April 18, 2008). As to the likely age of the baby, see “Sarah Palin and The Neonatologist - Part Two - POW!” Laura Novak Author, http://alturl.com/9avjs (May 19, 2011). Novak later wrote that three other doctors independently agreed with the assessment of the neonatologist concerning Trig’s age: see Novak, “The Neonatologist: Ear, Nose, and Upper Lip,” http://alturl.com/f4xbt (June 6, 2011). Novak, a former New York Times and ABC News reporter, gave birth to a premature baby herself and illustrated with pictures of her newborn son how Trig did not display characteristics typical of a newborn preemie.
9 10 11
On Dr. Baldwin-Johnson’s status at Providence hospital, see http://tinyurl.com/3mltojy.
See http://www.matsuregional.com/Services/Pages/Maternity%20Services.aspx, which does not show prenatal ICU at the hospital. On Palin being a board member, see "Palin vs. Obama: Line by Line Resume Comparison," http://rootswire.org/conventionblog/palin-vs-obama-line-line-resume-comparison (Sept. 5, 2008).
gave birth at Mat-Su Regional was she felt confident the hospital’s staff would remain silent about likely falsehoods concerning where, when, and to whom Trig was born.12 Taking no maternity leave, Palin returned to work two days later looking remarkably fit. She brought the supposedly four-week premature Trig with her – an action medical professionals would hardly condone for a newborn preemie – and held a press conference. A reporter there asked if her water broke in Texas. She replied: “So that was again, if, if I must get personal, technical about this at the same time, um, it was one, uh, it was a sign that I knew, um, could lead to, uh, labor being, uh, kind of kicked in there, was any kind of, um, amniotic leaking, amniotic fluid leaking, so when, when that happened we decided let’s call her [Dr. Baldwin-Johnson].”13 If Palin’s water indeed broke in Texas, as she seemingly confirmed, and she waited some 20 hours and took a very long flight after contractions started before going to a medical facility, her actions would have been “reckless beyond measure,” according to obstetricians interviewed by Andrew Sullivan, whose blog was then attached to The Atlantic.14 Palin's birth story has never depended on believability. It seemingly has been grounded in the assumption that nobody would challenge it because nobody could prove it was false, no matter how fantastic it seemed. Sarah Palin's father made that attitude clear when he was confronted with the rumor that Bristol, not Sarah, was Trig's real mother. "How can you prove that?" he snapped. Then, perhaps feeling confident nobody could challenge his truthfulness, he added, "Goddammit! I was there when he popped out!" – another implausible assertion that can hardly be disproved.15 The Press Accepts Palin’s Claims – and her Doctor’s The oddness of the McCain team's response to the fake birth rumors – outing Bristol’s pregnancy instead of producing evidence of Sarah’s motherhood – should have prompted reporters to wonder if something fraudulent had happened and kept them from accepting Palin’s
I have personally written to the hospital, its board and its parent corporation at seeking information about the alleged birth; those groups have all stonewalled me – there has never been a single reply, not even a “no comment.” Those entities, however, did send to Palin’s personal lawyer copies of my letters to them; he later sent copies of those letters to my university in an effort to get me to stop my research and writing about Palin. Audio of the press conference http://tindeck.com/listen/zcnk (April 21, 2008).
Sullivan, “A Fourth Picture,” The Atlantic Online, http://alturl.com/dzf44 (Dec. 5, 2008). Sullivan interviewed numerous obstetricians, and the quote is his summary of their views.
See the picture caption: http://www.esquire.com/features/todd-palin-bio-0509-3.
implausible birth claims as established fact. But reporters at top news organizations swallowed the birth story. For example, on Sept. 8, a flattering article in the New York Times said: “She traveled to Texas a month before her due date to give an important speech, delivering it even though her amniotic fluid was leaking.” Then, continued the article, after giving birth and returning to work, “with Trig in her arms, Ms. Palin has risen higher than ever.” And the Washington Post, on September 7, 2008, in a flattering piece wrote: “The April birth of Trig, Norse for ‘brave victory,’ turned out to be a powerful credential for the national Republican base, delighted that Palin delivered a child who tests foretold had Down syndrome. During the campaign, Palin had promised the press she would release her medical records. At 11 p.m. Nov. 3, one hour before Election Day, the McCain campaign released a two-page letter from Dr. Baldwin-Johnson regarding Palin’s health. 16 A section on Trig’s birth read: … She followed the normal and recommended schedule for prenatal care, including follow-up perinatology evaluations to ensure there was no significant congenital heart disease or other condition of the baby that would preclude delivery at her home community hospital. This child, Trig, was born at 35 weeks in good health.… Three things stand out about this statement: 1. While suggesting that the birth might have taken place at Mat-Su Regional Medical Center (Palin’s “home community hospital”), by using roundabout wording the doctor avoided saying where, or when, the baby was born. 2. Palin had claimed in a press conference that Dr. Baldwin-Johnson had delivered Trig; but the doctor used the passive voice above, thus not saying who delivered the baby. 3. Nothing in the statement suggests the doctor had firsthand knowledge of Palin’s alleged pregnancy; Baldwin-Johnson may simply have repeated what Palin had told her. One more thing about Baldwin-Johnson’s statement deserves mention. In it she writes she was on active status at the Mat-Su medical center from 1985 to June 1, 2008 – 23 years – meaning she relinquished her privileges to treat patients there just six weeks after Trig’s alleged birth. She said she stepped down so she could focus more on her private practice, which includes serving as medical director of The Children’s Place in Anchorage, a facility she founded that helps victims of sexual assault and molestation, especially teenagers in trouble.17
16 Andrew Malcolm, “Sarah Palin's physician says she's in 'excellent health',” L.A. Times, http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2008/11/polling-places.html (Nov. 3, 2008). 17
After the election, Anchorage Daily News executive editor Pat Dougherty assigned reporter Lisa Demer the task of putting the baby hoax story to rest by obtaining proof of the birth. But Demer hit a brick wall – Palin’s office and doctor refused to cooperate. Then Palin fired off an email to Dougherty on January 12, 2009, asking if the paper was “pursuing the sensational lie that I am not Trig's mother?” Dougherty published her email and his response. He wrote: … the Daily News has, from the beginning, dismissed the conspiracy theories about Trig's birth as nonsense. … In fact, my integrity and the integrity of the newspaper have been repeatedly attacked in national forums for our complicity in the "coverup.” He said his only purpose in assigning Demer the story was “to kill the nonsense once and for all.” Noting that Demer had received no cooperation, he wrote: It strikes me that if there is never a clear, contemporaneous public record of what transpired with Trig's birth, that may actually ensure that the conspiracy theory never dies. Dougherty wrote that Palin never responded to his email. Since that time, all reporters and editors at the paper have given what seems like a scripted answer to questions about Palin’s remarkable birth story: they see no reason to doubt it.18 The Birth of Bristol’s (Second?) Baby Bristol gave birth to her son, Tripp, allegedly on Dec. 27, 2008. However, that birth date was not confirmed by any source outside of the Palin or Johnston families. (In an unsettling coincidence, state undercover police slapped Sherry Johnston, Levi’s mother, with six felony counts of selling OxyContin just nine days earlier.)19 The birth announcement was effectively made, via People magazine, by a great-aunt living outside of Alaska who had not seen the baby. Palin family members in Wasilla refused to confirm the birth when contacted by the Associated Press, even though they had to be the great-aunt's source. And Sarah Palin's spokesman, Bill McAllister, also refused to comment on the birth, changing tack only after People came out with the great-aunt's comments, thus shielding Palin from being the source if the date was later proved wrong. The presumed hospital, Mat-Su
18 Pat Dougherty, “Full text of the Palin-ADN email exchange,” Anchorage Daily News, http://community.adn.com/adn/node/136523 (Jan. 12, 2009). The newspaper’s timidity may stem from the fact that it derives significant income from the state, and Palin’s appointees are still in office. See “The ADN Again,” Laura Novak Author, http://alturl.com/h6kvn (June 22, 2011). 19
See “Mother of Bristol Palin's Fiance Pleads Not Guilty to Drug Charges” ABC News online, http://abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/MindMoodNews/story?id=6577965&page=1#.UEI4fY4iO0I.
Regional again, also would not comment. About seven weeks passed before Tripp was shown to the media.20 Why did the Palin clan seemingly play games with the press concerning the date of birth? Perhaps Bristol was less than five months pregnant at the Republican National Convention, meaning Tripp would have been born later than December. In the lefthand photo in the threepanel composite to the right, we see Bristol, not showing any obvious signs of pregnancy, standing next to Sarah at the Alaska Zoo on August 24, 2008, about a week before the RNC. In the middle photo, taken at the RNC less than two weeks later, Bristol has developed a very large bosom and an oddly shaped, usually high baby bump. And in the right-hand photo, taken on October 15, Bristol shows a baby bump that looks much more natural. An explanation for Bristol’s odd appearance in the middle photo is that she may have been wearing ill-fitting padding that was meant to make her look more pregnant than she really was. Could Bristol be Trig’s mother? Perhaps. Bristol transferred from Wasilla High School to Anchorage West High School in the middle of the 2007-08 academic year, moving in with Sarah’s sister Heather Bruce in Anchorage. Her interrupted schooling suggests something disruptive may have taken place in her life, such as a pregnancy. If she did birth Trig, then she seemingly did so no later than mid-January 2008, because she reportedly was seen, clearly not pregnant, at that time.21 If the baby the Heaths showed the KTUU reporter on April 18 was in fact Trig, then Bristol may have given birth to him quite prematurely. But the key point is not whether Bristol birthed Trig or not. It’s whether Sarah lied about giving birth to him.
The announcement was effectively made via People by a Coleen Jones, Sallie Heath's sister in Seattle; see Lorenzo Benet, “Bristol Palin Welcomes a Son,” People (Dec. 29, 2008): http://tinyurl.com/6vd482. See Fox News (Dec. 29, 2008): "Palin family members, hospital employees and representatives of former presidential candidate John McCain would not confirm the birth or did not return messages from The Associated Press": http://tinyurl.com/7424s9w. As to the first time the media were allowed to see the baby, see “Exclusive: A visit with the Palins,” Fox News, http://alturl.com/jhqub (Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2009).
“Bristol Palin: Homeschooler?” May 29, 2009, PalinDeception.com, http://alturl.com/sppzr.
The Staging of the Gusty Interview Photo As noted, the appearance of the Gustyinterview photo surely helped quash the birth hoax rumors. It was one of two photos posted to Flickr by "erik99559" just before the start of the Republican National Convention. The other photo, to the right, shows in addition to Palin both Dan Carpenter, a KTUU cameraman, and (in the glasses) Bill McAllister, chief political reporter of KTUU. The caption to the picture read, "Myself, Governor Palin and Press Secretary McAllister," suggesting Carpenter posted the picture.22 Moreover, he grew up in Bethel, Alaska, whose zip code is 99559. Gusty, the KTVA interviewer, has said she took that photo minutes before Carpenter took the interview photo. Both have declined to explain to why they took the photos.23 But the placement of Palin in the interview photo (shown again, to the left) – where one hallway ends at another – suggests the point was to get a still photo from the side showing Palin's belly in profile, while the video cameraman shot her from the front, mainly from the shoulders up, as the newscast showed.24 It was important that the video cameraman not shoot her from the side, because showing her large belly in profile might have raised questions about her rapid change in appearance, which perhaps helps explain why the still shots were not posted till late August: so people might forget how unusually thin she looked during her remarkable six-week pregnancy (from the date she announced it to the alleged birth). Palin promoted the idea that she was unusually trim during the pregnancy. In Going Rogue (page 191), she wrote: “Before we knew it, I was seven months along. I hadn’t put on a lot
See http://alturl.com/jamn7, where a screenshot of the original Flickr post has been preserved.
See “McAllister et al.,” Laura Novak Author, http://alturl.com/ru2cr (June 9, 2011), where Novak tries to get McAllister, Gusty or Carpenter to comment on the photos, but with no luck. See “Andrea Gusty Addresses Controversial Palin Photos,” YouTube, http://alturl.com/qp2q7 (Jan. 31, 2009). Gusty alleges in this video that she asked Carpenter take the interview photo as a favor to her. If what she wanted was a memento of her interview with Palin, why did Carpenter frame the photo in such an odd way, shooting Palin from the side and making the video cameraman the dominant person in the shot? And why was Carpenter there? There’s no evidence that he and McAllister interviewed Palin that evening, even though McAllister alleged that was his purpose in being on hand; see http://tinyurl.com/92q4bjz.
of weight and ... no one saw my girth or suspected I was pregnant.” Her assertion that she was unusually trim at seven months is incompatible with her appearance in the Gusty-interview photo, unless her stomach ballooned in just over month. In the same vein, Lisa Demer of the Anchorage Daily News wrote on April 22, 2008: “Palin never got big with this pregnancy” – another statement at odds with the Gusty interview photo. Demer broadly hinted in the way she wrote the news story that there might have been a hoax. It is useful to note that Palin did “get big” in earlier pregnancies, as the photo of Palin to the left (in the red shirt) shows. Perhaps by design, very few people likely saw the live Gusty interview in-person. It was scheduled for early evening on a Sunday after the legislature had wrapped up its business. (Palin had met with the press corps in the afternoon, according to her official calendar.) 25 So McAllister and Carpenter were perhaps the only individuals on hand to witness the interview. While McAllister still technically worked for KTUU, he had given notice that he was leaving the station earlier that month, and it's now clear he had already secured his coming job with Palin.26 He and Carpenter seemingly were there to get the still shots. The Gusty interview and the still shots from it appear to have been a brilliant ploy. The stills fulfilled a crucial need for Palin: linked as they were to a newscast that aired the week before the alleged birth, they provided proof that Palin looked very pregnant on April 13 – at least for a while. They thus were perfectly suited to kill the hoax rumors that were sure to reappear after McCain selected Palin for VP. Of course, if the point of the interview was to get such pictures, then some of the participants conspired to deceive the American people. How can we be sure the Gusty interview was not purely innocent? Because the interview circumstances wouldn’t make sense if that were true. Why would Palin want to give an exclusive interview to Gusty that evening? If what Palin had to say was so important that a live broadcast was called for, then all the TV stations would have been included. The fact that Palin, according to her calendar, had met with the press hours earlier makes the evening interview with Gusty even more inexplicable, except in terms of staging a hoax.
See Laura Novak Author, http://tinyurl.com/8s5mqma.
The Anchorage Daily News had reported on April 6 that McAllister was leaving KTUU; released government emails later showed he likely negotiated his contract with the state in early April; see Andrew Halcro, “Government emails and credibility,” AndrewHalcro.com, http://alturl.com/uku68 (July 25, 2008). I sent an earlier version of this article to McAllister seeking his comments. In an April 5, 2011, he strenuously denied any involvement in a birth hoax without denying a hoax took place; but he bizarrely wrote that he would slap me if he ever saw me and called me “an agent of evil”; see http://tinyurl.com/3qvroa9.
Conclusion An example of an earlier photo depicting a lesspregnant-looking Palin shows her leaving the Alaska State Museum on March 26.27 It is the middle picture to the right, flanked by cropped versions of the March 14 photo and April 13 interview photo (all adjusted to show detail). Palin in the museum picture does seem to have a bulge in her midsection, but it looks too high to be a baby bump, plus it seems far too small for a woman who will give birth in 23 days. The picture also seems to show, under her shirt, some sort of wrap around her midsection, which perhaps is holding down padding. (To left is an enlargement of her midsection from that picture.) Taken together, the three photos show that Palin’s belly went from flat to somewhat round to hugely round in just under a month. The photographic evidence convinces me that in March and April of 2008 Palin sometimes wore padding or a fake-maternity prosthetic to make herself look pregnant. The photographs, along with all the other evidence, convince me beyond any reasonable doubt that Palin was not pregnant with Trig but instead staged a hoax.28 Indeed, the evidence is overwhelming.
See Laura Novak, “Three weeks before Sarah Palin reportedly gave birth to her fifth child, a six pound boy, Juneau photographer Brian Wallace captured a series of photos of Mr. and Mrs. Todd Palin exiting the Alaska State Museum. Nota bene: Palin is said to be eight months pregnant here - 3 weeks shy of giving birth.” (August 1, 20011), http://alturl.com/sgn4u. Last August I sent an earlier version of this article to Sarah Palin, giving her a chance to respond; she did not. Her lawyer, however, complained to my university in March about my research, in an effort to make me stop. He seemed to deny on Palin’s behalf that there had been a hoax because of the way he lambasted me, twice using the word "insane" to describe my views. However, a close reading of his letter shows that he in fact never comes right out and says there was not a hoax. He speaks for Palin, of course, and the careful wording gives her wiggle room to say the letter contained no outright lies, if and when the hoax unravels.
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