Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sarah Palin's Fake Pregnancy

It was only a year ago that Sarah Palin was plucked from a gubernatorial backwater and came strutting onto the national stage. She may return one day, or she may be gone for good, leaving us with nothing but ghostwritten facebook notes, phony newspaper editorials, and our memories.

Whatever Palin's future may hold, there is one aspect of her not-so-distant-past I would like to shine a light on. That is this question:

Is Sarah Palin the biological mother of Trig Palin?

I believe the answer is: No, she is not. I claim no special, first-hand knowledge. But the preponderance of the available evidence supports this claim. But first...

Who cares?

Sarah's bright star may be fading, but this topic remains interesting for several reasons:

  • As mysteries go, this one is wonderfully binary. All the usual scandal deflection techniques ("I didn't know about it." "Ok, I knew about it, but it's no big deal." "Ok, it's bad, but everyone does it." etc, etc... ) are irrelevant. Either she was pregnant and delivered a baby and I do a great injustice to her by suggesting she did not, or Sarah Palin perpetrated a brazen fraud. There is no fuzzy middle.
  • Trig's birth occurred in the past, but not the very distant past. These events happened during the first 4 months of 2008. Sarah Palin was in office, the governor of the state, and in the public eye all that time. Pregnancy is no small thing, and takes place over an extended period of time. It should not be difficult to determine the truth. The pregnancy or non-pregnancy of the governor, should be clear from the public record.
  • This topic is almost universally regarded as a crazy, fringe theory. The Obama "birthers" get way more play than the Trig Truthers. Even most liberal, Palin-hatin' web sites won't touch this story. I do not consider myself crazy. "There's a lot to be said for sanity" is an old Swainbank saying, and we take pride in our good judgment. If the emperor is naked, it is best to say so.
  • I allege that Sarah Palin, while in office as Governor, faked a pregnancy. She told the public she was pregnant, when she was not. In the final days of her "pregnancy" she wore a fake pregnancy suit, including wearing a fake pregnancy suit to a Republican Governor's Convention. Prior to that, she sustained this outlandish claim with minimal camouflage and maximum bluster. Mostly, she got away with it. Five months after pulling this stunt, she was nominated to join a national ticket. She almost became Vice President of the United States. She remains a prominent figure in national politics and the Republican party. This is one for the history books. It's well worth a look...

    History and Sources

    When Palin was announced as VP candidate and introduced to the world, the rumor that she had faked a pregnancy appeared almost immediately and spread rapidly. The main source of the rumor was a post on the DailyKos web site. DailyKos is no fan of Sarah Palin, but also tries to avoid this kind of explosive rumor. The post was taken down very quickly, and is no longer available on the site.

    The original post was saved and archived. It is available here.

    On the eve of the Republic National Convention, the McCain/Palin campaign moved to diffuse this rumor. Did they provide journalists with proof that it was false by producing Trig's birth certificate or some portion of Palin's medical records? They did not. Instead, the campaign announced that Sarah's daughter Bristol was 5 months pregnant, and thus, could not have delivered a baby 4 1/2 months prior. Case closed.

    The press, populous, and blogosphere had a hard enough time trying to figure out Sarah, and trying to separate Palin fact from fiction. The BabyGate issue was dropped for the remainder of the campaign and was largely forgotten.

    But not by everyone...

    A blogger by the name of Audrey started the web site The site, and the associated blog, are dedicated to inspecting all aspects of Trig Palin's birth story. Audrey, site researchers, and a committed cast of commenters spent the last year scouring the internet, plumbing the public record, and building their case.

    This kind of diffuse, collaborative journalism is quite new and only possible in the internet age. In our wired, interconnected world is it possible to keep a big secret? If enough strangers go searching for a specific, but concealed truth, what can they find?

    As it turns out, they can find quite a lot.

    The Case

    The investigation has gone in a multitude of directions. A good place to start is that DailyKos diary entry that started it all, which provides a solid summary.

    The entire entry is well worth reading.

    While the issue has been banished to crazy-conspiracy-land, after a year of scrutiny, the allegations made into post have held up.
  • Nobody thought the governor was pregnant even as she announced that she was 7 months along. This took her staff, the press, the public, and members of her immediate family by surprise.
  • Sarah Palin does not appear to be pregnant in the photographs during that time.
  • Sarah's daughter Bristol was sent to live (but not attend school) with her aunt in Anchorage during the months leading up to Trig's birth.
  • Palin claims she started leaking amniotic fluid in Texas and then got a plane to Alaska, landed and drove several hours further to give birth, to her premature baby with downs syndrome, at her tiny home-town hospital. The airline staff failed to notice a pregnant governor, in labor, on their flight.
  • There is no corroborating evidence -- no birth certificate, no medical records, no clear photographic record, and no compelling first-hand accounts that demonstrate that Sarah Palin, the Governor of Alaska, was pregnant and gave birth.
An Alaskan newspaper tried to debunk the fake-pregnancy rumor. They failed. The newspaper was unable to obtain evidence that Governor's pregnancy was real.

There are a number of threads you can pull on to see what unravels. But we can keep this simple.

Forget everything you know, and any thoughts you may have about Sarah Palin. Now consider these two photographs...

Ask yourself this question: Is the woman depicted in those photos in the third trimester of a pregnancy?

My wife, Christine, who is wise about a great many things, says it's possible. She says we can't know for sure. Every pregnancy is different.

My reply: Um. No. They aren't. It is a universal feature of pregnancy that every pregnant woman in the third trimester has several pounds of baby and supporting tissue and fluid in her uterus. This creates a visible bulge.

Even if there are medical miracle women who can create babies without showing, Sarah Palin is not one of them.

I choose the 2 photos above because they are the clearest, and were taken at identifiable, public events. A full timeline with all known Palin photos and footage during the pregnancy period is available here.

What About Bristol?

If Sarah didn't deliver this baby, then who did? Bristol Palin remains the most likely candidate. Those were the rumors and Bristol did not attend school in the months leading up to Trig's birth. For this to be possible, either Trig's or Tripp's reported birth dates would have be incorrect. There is no available documentation of either birth. Either (or both) is a distinct possibility.


Why would Sarah Palin do this? I don't know. We can't know. But we know people do stupid and inexplicable things. Politicians can be incredibly reckless. We can scour photos and web sites and piece together the what. The why is always lost to us. Ultimately we can only know our own minds.

And so, I'll end this by turning the question back on you. You've come this far. Am I spewing a crazy conspiracy theory or just pointing out the obvious? Do you believe it was all a lie, or do you believe Sarah Palin was pregnant and gave birth to Trig? Why?


  1. You have presented a coherent, rational argument. I believe I read the original dKos post, and have suspected this to be the case since then. Given Palin's intolerant, fundamentalist politics along with the timing, I think the motive is pretty obvious.

    From a national public interest perspective, getting at the truth behind this story is of import only if Sarah Palin stands to remain a player on the national scene - either as a potential office holder, or as a disrupter of others' campaigns.

    Sadly, her hardest core of supporters (are there any others?) are unlikely to be swayed by any proof, or even admission - so long as they have no alternative champion of nuthouse conservative politics.

  2. Addendum: The tragedy of the entire story is that to pursue the truth, one must disregard the potential impact on one totally innocent life, and another private citizen's youthful actions, possibly made in part at the direction of her mother at a time of maximum personal vulnerability.

    In addition, pursuit of the story prior to knowing the final outcome demands that those investigating set aside such reservations, knowing there is a possibility that they could be subjecting the family members to additional public scrutiny and humiliation for no reason at all.

    I don't think the story is really "conspiracy nut" category so much as it is extremely delicate.

  3. Thanks for the feedback DH.

    I am a little sad to see that Palin is back in the news and still seen as politically and culturally relevant. I wasn't sure that would happen when I wrote the post back in Sept.

    This issue remains intriguing to me now mainly as a case study in celebrity, journalism, and truth.

    It's a fascinating case of Emperor's New Clothes. The truth is staring us in the face (if we care to dig up the old pictures and look at them), and but nobody can bring themselves to admit the obvious. Without ironclad proof no publication is going to call the Emperor a liar. The lie is so big that the stakes are too high.

    The story of the century, a Governor who faked a pregnancy, in office, and ran for VP a few months later, remains largely untold and unknown.

    I don't worry too much about the innocents, like Bristol and Trig, when or if the story breaks. We already know Bristol is a young unwed, mom. It's just not that big a deal. There's no crime, just a totally absurd cover up.

  4. I'm only now looking at this story, and I think your summary is by far the most coherent. Thanks. I'm linking to you on my blog. Let me know if you object.