Posted Friday, April 22, 2011, at 2:29 PM
Justin Elliott and Steve Kornacki
spent some considerable amount of time re-reporting the facts
of Sarah Palin's pregnancy in an effort to debunk "Trig Trutherism." (The conspiracy theory surfaced again this month, largely because of a pseudo-academic paper on the theory and because Palin, after distancing herself from "birtherism," applauded Donald Trump's plummet down the rabbit hole.) I think the debunking is definitive.
According to [Steve] 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.
Quinn added that he heard from female legislators and friends of the governor that they suspected, based on physical changes, that Palin was pregnant well before she announced the news.
Several months later, after Palin had been tapped for the No. 2 slot on the GOP ticket, Quinn began looking into the rumors again. He called Palin's doctor, Cathy Baldwin-Johnson, who had personally induced Palin's labor in April. Baldwin-Johnson called him back several days after the Republican convention ended in early September. Quinn asked her directly if Trig was Sarah Palin's baby. "The doctor flat-out told me it was Palin's child," he recalled.
Jason Linkins puts this in the right context: "As with Birtherism, the way you translate 'the media failed to diligently investigate the truth" is to say "the media, after sufficient investigation, failed to deliver the story that all the conspiracy theorists wanted.'" Both conspiracy theories have been flogged to death by reporters, and why wouldn't they be? Who wouldn't want to be the reporter who proved that essential facts about some politician's life had been covered up? I've barely paid attention* to the Trig Palin conspiracy for an Occam's Razor reason -- in the summer of 2008, there was only a downside, no upside, in Sarah Palin giving birth to another son, let alone that son being born with Downs Syndrome. When Trig was born, a common take was that her national ambitions were over -- clearly, she had to devote her time to raising this child. For example, here's how independent pro-Palin blogger Adam Brickley, who got a lot of credit for sparking a "Draft Palin for VP movement," took the news .
What this means for our movement: Gov. Palin is due in May, meaning that the littlest Palin will likely be two months old by the time Sen. McCain makes VP choice (traditionally these things are done in around July, especially considering the Democrats' drawn-out primary). Obviously we will be watching this situation very closely, but as of now there are no plans to change our operations in any way.
We're already pretty deep in the gutter right now, so why not go deeper and engage in the lowest form of journalism: Analysis of Blog Comments? One comment on Jonathan Chait's post about this is fairly instructive. Ironyroad sees Chait quote this section of the piece.
We've learned, for instance, that an Associated Press reporter in Alaska who was covering Palin during her pregnancy in early 2008 (before she became a national figure) thoroughly investigated rumors that the pregnancy was a hoax. The reporter directly questioned Palin about the matter in a private meeting in her Juneau office before she gave birth. Gov. Palin responded by voluntarily lifting her outer layer of clothing, offering a clear look at her round belly. The reporter quickly concluded that there was no truth to the rumors and never wrote about them.
So who was the reporter? Why weave an extra layer of mystery around that fact, if it is a fact?
Of course, Chait was just quoting Elliott's introduction to the piece. Several paragraphs later, he tells the story again, giving credit this time to the reporter, Steve Quinn. And this is a nice little example of the laziness people are willing to engage in in order to believe a conspiracy theory.
*You might ask: "How come you write/wrote a lot about Obama conspiracy theories but not much about this one? Well, I'm kicking myself for not digging in on the Trig stuff earlier -- rabbit holes can be fun, especially if you escape with sanity intact. But the Obama conspiracy theories 1)
began as lawsuits
intended to keep him from being on state ballots or becoming president 2) attracted real grassroots conservative attention that I did not see an equal of on the left (WorldNetDaily has been a 24/7 birther news site for nearly three years now) and 3) inspired legislation or campaign promises from Republican politicians. Has a Democratic politician ever questioned whether Trig Palin is Sarah Palin's son? If so, tell me, but I haven't heard it.