April 18 2008 is the date we have been given for the birth of Trig Palin. Only 18 days beforehand, we read from an explosive and leaked manuscript of her confidant, Frank Bailey, Palin was ticked at rumors that she wasn't pregnant but that Bristol was. According to her latest account, Palin was seven and a half months pregnant when Trig was born, so we have a woman 7 months pregnant emailing and thinking about "media strategies" to rebut the rumors. Again this is months before Palin entered the national spotlight. I haven't begun to read the manuscript yet, but here are some emails - thousands of which are still unreleased by Palin herself - relating to this period:
Sent: Tuesday, April 01, 2008 2:30 PM
Todd: Don't tell (Bristol) but rumor around the capitol is that she's pregnant. People are so mean. I'm going to nicely pull McAllister [then KTVU reporter and subsequently Palin's spokesman] aside and tell him that's not true ...
Funny people maybe speculated I'm not really pg, but she is and I'm taking the heat for her! Funny, but pathetic.
The next day we get this email:
Yeah- Brsitol (sic) just called and heard the rumors too, but this time is was from Wasilla High kids who heard that I'm not really pg, but she is, and I'll be taking/raising the baby she's supposedly having next month. She's ticked, but made light of it with, "They think I'm pregnant just because I have huge boobs?" Told her to just tell those rumormongers that they're invited to peer at my stretch marks, that'll prove who's really pg.
This "look at my stretch-marks" response has been her refrain about this question ever since, as if stretch marks on someone who has had four kids proves a third trimester current pregnancy. Why not just kill the rumors by releasing her medical records? But no, Palin wasn't going to do that. Instead, she decided she would just handle the issue by a quiet call to the ADN gossip columnist, Sheilah Toomey. Again, she offered to show her "new stretch marks" to prove she was pregnant. But wouldn't it be obvious that merely showing her naked 7-month pregnant belly to a reporter would be enough. I mean: how many seven-months' pregnant women need to go around proving they're pregnant?
Another email where Palin urged a quiet call to the gossip columnist:
...feel out Shelia on it discreetly, play it by ear and clear it up if she's suspecting anything... Heck- offer to let her see my new stretch marks to prove which Palin is truly pregnant!
Bailey writes in his manuscript:
While the serendipitous suggestion of viewing stretch marks was clearly not a serious proposal, it was nonetheless strange for both the disturbing imagery and a deflection from a more simple solution.
Yes: "a more simple solution": a simple handful of medical records to a real reporter to kill off these bizarre rumors in one easy, discreet move. But for Palin, the only proof was only ever going to be stretch marks. She blamed Lyda Green, arch-enemy and big Republican macher in Juneau, for spreading the rumors, which, according to Green had been circulating since December 2007. Four days after the birth of Trig, Palin writes:
Sheeeesh- I just can not get over this. Todd just left messages with a couple of teachers out here to have them call him b/c they publicly repeated the rumor and he wants to clear it up with them, but also ask where in the flippin world they heard this. Does anyone have any ideas how to squelch this... for Bristol's sake if no other reason…- maybe even an (Anchorage Daily News) Ear mention, or a crafty reporter could handle it light-heartidly (sic) perhaps and put it to rest.
The new suspicion, evidently, is that it's too suspicious that I "flew to Texas" and supposedly came back in the middle of the night and appeared with this baby the next day - ha! That either Bristol really had it or some other stupid angle is the newer twist... or that Bristol's still going to have one? (They can't even get their rumor straight.).
So go to a friendly media source off the record, give some medical records, and end the charade. And that is exactly what Palin had a golden opportunity to do after the general election when the ADN editor, Pat Dougherty, emailed her asking for exactly that. Palin exploded at him. The full email exchange is here; my summary here. Palin unloads first:
[I]s your paper really still pursuing the sensational lie that I am not Trig's mother? Is it true you have a reporter still bothering my state office, my very busy doctor (who's already set the record straight for you), and the school district, in pursuit of your ridiculous conspiracy?
So Palin went from planning to try to get the ADN or a friendly KTVU reporter to rebut the rumors in April - to outrage at exactly that kind of press outreach in January of the next year. The ADN was, after all, trying to help her. From Dougherty's response:
I want to be very clear on this: I have from the beginning and do now consider the conspiracy theories about Trig's birth to be nutty nonsense.
If that's true, then why has Lisa Demer been asking questions about Trig's birth? Because we have been amazed by the widespread and enduring quality of these rumors. I finally decided, after watching this go on unabated for months, to let a reporter try to do a story about the "conspiracy theory that would not die" and, possibly, report the facts of Trig's birth thoroughly enough to kill the nonsense once and for all. Lisa Demer started reporting. I don't believe she received any cooperation in her efforts from the parties who, in my judgment, stood to benefit most from the story, namely you and your family. Even so, we reported the matter as thoroughly as we could.
Several weeks ago, when we considered the information Lisa had gathered, we decided we didn't have enough of a story to accomplish what we had hoped.
Palin never responded to Dougherty. No one in the MSM has ever asked her to clear this up by what her former aide called the "simple solution."
I should be clear there is nothing that new here, and in many ways, the emails support Palin's side of the weird story. What is new is that the rumors that Palin's pregnancy was a hoax were very prevalent long before Trig was born, and long before she emerged as veep nominee, that Palin herself was still trying to convince the world she really was pregnant at seven months, but that her only evidence was going to be stretch marks, which was, according to her closest aide, "not a serious proposal". In the fall campaign, she even claimed that she had already released Trig's birth certificate proving the point. That claim was simply untrue (Odd Lie XXXVI). But bizarre nonetheless.
I have no idea what is true or not here. I merely share Palin's own view that getting the proof of her fifth full pregnancy to a reporter was a good idea in April 2008, and a good idea ever since she hit the national spotlight. She has consistently refused to offer any easily available evidence and no MSM reporter has ever questioned her or asked in a friendly way to resolve this with what had to be stacks of off-the-record medical records. An invasion of privacy? What could be more invasive than inviting a stranger to look at her stretch marks? And so the beat goes on.