By Patrick Appel

Will, a loyal Dish reader, writes:

Andrew Sullivan’s latest on Trig Palin’s maternity is uncomfortable reading. After wading through the muck, I’m left wondering why he feels the need to badger the poor woman over the circumstances of her son’s birth. Even if everything he says is true - the pregnancy was staged to protect her daughter; the entire story is fraudulent; the press is silently complicit - I still have no idea why we should care. If Palin is lying to protect her daughter, I have nothing but sympathy for the poor woman and her family.

I agree. While signing off, Andrew mentioned the months long argument he and I have had with regard to Sarah Palin's fifth child. I am the only other person who has read all the obstetrician interviews, the interview with a reporter at the scene, and all the primary sources. I strongly believe that there is nothing to this story. Andrew writes:

There is no formal record of Trig's birth at Mat-Su Regional Medical Center, although there is a record of two other babies born on the same day.

This is highly misleading. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) (pdf) protects patient information. The "formal record" Andrew is referring to is a list of newborn babies on the Mat-Su website. This list is voluntary. Parents have to give their approval for their children to be listed (The Dish checked with the hospital). Trig not being on this list isn't proof of anything.

Forget about grainy inconclusive photographs: reporters saw Palin pregnant. This was one of the primary reasons Alaskan papers stopped investigating the story. Additionally, there is absolutely no reason to believe that Bristol Palin was pregnant during this time. The Dish interviewed Lori Tipton, an Alaskan TV reporter at the hospital the day of the delivery. Here's part of that interview:

Sarah [Palin] was in another room, and they said that she was sleeping when we arrived.  And so, we got a little bit of footage of Sally [Heath] holding Trig, and Chuck [Heath] standing next to her. And Bristol [Palin] was in there, and I said to Bristol, "We should get some footage of you and your brother and your grandparents." And she’s like, "No I really don’t like to be photographed." And I said, "Are you sure?"  And she’s like, "Yeah, yeah, no."  And she didn’t have any make-up on or anything, but she was dressed in typical teenage attire, a tight shirt, low-cut jeans, you know, and we had heard the rumors before the delivery of this baby also, that Bristol was pregnant, and so, when my photographer and I got to the hospital and we saw her, I thought, well, clearly there’s no way that that girl just delivered a baby seven hours ago.

The easiest way to disprove these conspiracy theories is to consider what would be required for them to be true. Palin's doctor, along with a good number of Mat-Su Regional's doctors, nurses, and administrators would need to be in on the cover-up. On multiple occasions Palin would have had to pad her belly to make herself look pregnant. She would have needed to get friends to lie about seeing her breast feed. She would have had to silence an entire community – including two 17-year-olds and their friends – while the national media and the National Enquirer snooped around. Implausible to say the least.

I don't believe Sarah Palin is capable of pulling off such a cover-up. And, like Alex Massie and John Schwenkler, I don't understand what is being accomplished by continued investigation.