A reader writes:
I completely agree with you on the importance of this issue and the discredit that the lack of inquiry places on the journalistic profession. However, I cannot agree with your recent suggestion (not the first time) that the story may boil down to a simple exaggeration of the facts of the "wild ride."
While it is certain that her tale is not credible, it is not just the wild ride aspect of the story that raises eyebrows; this has to be taken in the context of all the other things that don't add up about her story. The lack of a pregnant physique, and then the impossibly-morphing body shapes. The fact that no one knew. The timing of the announcement. The odd story of the too-early amniocentesis. The disappearance of Bristol, her pregnant appearance and substantiated claims that she was pregnant in 2007. The lack of any documentation whatsoever of the birth. The changing details. The fact that neither the doctor, nor the hospital, were qualified and certified to perform this high-risk delivery, known to have at least 6 high-risk factors -- and neither ever verified the birth story. The odd discrepancies in the letter released by the McCain-Palin campaign late on election eve. The inability of ADN to disprove the rumors, despite trying. Sarah's long history of lying. Heather Bruce's confirmation that Bristol lived with her while pregnant, which had to be earlier than the pregnancy with Tripp.
And this is not all! This is a preponderance of credible evidence that the story is a lie. As the would-be whistleblower on Bernie Madoff said (paraphrasing), "there was no smoking gun, but too many things just didn't add up." That is the hallmark of a hoax.
I think this series of facts is telling. It's what has dragged me back into this again and again. But without any hard evidence, I do think we have reached an impasse here. I am glad to have aired all this in ways others haven't. But the task is now up to reporters, not bloggers like me. All I can do is not hide my own skepticism.
And one thing about "reputation", "ethics", etc. I have not written a column on this in the Atlantic or the Sunday Times, because I don't have the facts to back up any substantive alternative theory to Palin's story-line. But on a blog, I take the responsibility seriously not to bullshit my readers, not to adopt a professional persona that obscures my real-time thoughts. I think a blog exists to air things you cannot nail down in a more formal journalistic context. And I think many of my critics do not get or simply disagree with this understanding of the relationship of blogging to journalism.
All I can say is that this is my understanding of the place of blogging - a conversation where nothing is forbidden, a zone of truly free speech, exercized responsibly, but open to any and all views and theories and questions. I don't think I'm partisan on this. Elena Kagan can testify to that.
I don't believe Palin's current story. But since I don't have the facts and sources to construct an alternative, my task is now over. I will stay vigilant for any and all new facts that we may get; and I sure won't let this go if more comes to light. But we're going around in circles now.