"Going Rogue," Page 35: "Together Al and Lena (Todd Palin's grandparents) helped start the Bristol Bay fishery in the 1930s, drifting for salmon from sailboats..."
FLAT-OUT WRONG. According to a history compiled by a Bristol Bay author for the conservation group Trout Unlimited, "The fishery began in 1884 when San Francisco businessman Carl Rohlffs organized the Arctic Packing Company and built the first cannery on the Bay at the Native village of Kanulik across the Nushagak River from present day Dillingham. The first commercial pack of canned salmon was only about 400 cases or 6,000 fish." According to a history of the fishery done by Ray Hillborn of the University of Washington, "by 1912, 19 canneries and 1,083 sail-powered gillnet boats harvested and canned over 20 million salmon annually." That's about two decades before Palin claims Todd's grandparents pioneered the fishery.
My email to Adam Bellow about whether "Going Rogue" was fact-checked remains unanswered. (What's he gonna say?) But what's fascinating about Medred's Alaskan fact-checking is the broader picture it paints: of a woman always prepared to make stuff up on the spot and even in print on matters that can easily be independently checked. This is the strange pattern I noticed very early on and catalogued in the "Odd Lies Of Sarah Palin" series. Medred concludes:
It is tempting to go on picking apart the other 270-or-so pages of "Going Rogue" in this manner, but I couldn't do it. It felt like piling on. It was clear by this point the reporting in the book was, at best, horribly sloppy, or, at worst, that Palin needs to heed her own demand: "Stop making things up."
The most incredible stories are those about her own family. Her completely ludicrous stories of her fifth pregnancy and labor are not alone in being beyond anything but religious belief. Medred notes this doozy:
"I was alerted to threats against Willow by students at her Juneau school, one particularly disturbing," Palin writes. "Someone posted a note on an Internet set site threatening to gang-rape her at school. I never felt safe for her after that. Later the same thing happened to Bristol."
Is this true? (Are we supposed even to ask such an empirical question of "Going Rogue"?) If it was, why did Palin not call the cops?
Is she not a pit-bull in defending her children? She is more outraged in the book by her lie that some reporters asked Piper some questions than that Willow and Bristol were threatened with gang-rape! Then this from Medred:
There are a couple things I really would like to have asked Palin or Stapleton after reading the governor's claim that the "first official event (at the governor's mansion) was a dinner for friends and family that was interrupted by a leak dripping water through the ceiling onto the grand piano. We had buckets under ceilings for two years until Todd helped track down leaks and repairs were finally finished."
Did they really have a bucket on the grand piano in the governor's mansion for two years? Did it really take Todd Palin, a guy who can fix a snowmachine outside at 40 degrees below zero, two years to track down a leak? Did anyone think about calling a plumber?
It's like asking why a woman whose water has broken and who is experiencing contractions at eight months with a special needs child wouldn't go to an emergency room. She's either lying or embellishing through her teeth or is bent on risking the safety of her child or is a total lunatic. Those are your options. Believing her story as she tells it simply isn't an option.
You can live in a rational world and ask rational questions, but you soon realize you're dealing with a disturbed individual who shouldn't be allowed custody of a child let alone a nation. I've tried to make sense of this book. It cannot be done. It's a tissue of lies, truths, half-truths, fantasies, grievances, and hilarious references to Plato and Aristotle. It's a joke, as she is. And yet this joke is, to my mind, the likeliest Republican nominee for president in 2012. And one of the most common reasons people cite for supporting her is her honesty.
Think of what that says about America in 2010.