PROFESSOR: Sarah Palin Probably Staged A Gigantic Hoax About Being Trig’s Mother

Trig Palin birtherism just won’t die

Kentucky journalism professor tries to revive conspiracy theory about Sarah Palin’s pregnancy

Reuters/Mike Segar
Then Republican vice presidential nominee Alaska Governor Sarah Palin holds her four-month-old son Trig after her speech at the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota September 3, 2008.

(UPDATED) A journalism professor at Northern Kentucky University is trying to revive the conspiracy theory that Sarah Palin is not the biological mother of Trig Palin.

Brad Scharlott of NKU (pictured below) has written a 29-page academic-style paper titled “Palin, the Press, and the Fake Pregnancy Rumor: Did a Spiral of Silence Shut Down the Story?” It begins like this:

“This article looks at what American journalists knew, and when they knew it, concerning the fake birth rumor — and it finds there was insufficient evidence for the press to conclude that Palin was telling the truth about Trig.”

Brad Scharlott

This is the idea, known as Trig Trutherism or Trig Birtherism and long pursued by such proponents as Andrew Sullivan, that Sarah Palin faked her 2008 pregnancy because Trig is actually the son of Bristol Palin.

Scharlott’s article strongly suggests that Palin’s pregnancy was a hoax and even includes analysis of photos purporting to show Palin’s “extremely flat stomach” when she was pregnant. The fact that a journalism professor produced this article is frankly embarrassing for Northern Kentucky University.

It is now being shopped around by Scharlott’s P.R. representative, Jennifer Campana, who pitched it to me after reading a piece I wrote yesterday debunking one of the birther claims made by Donald Trump. Campana’s pitch argues for a kind of Birther fairness doctrine:

In the research paper, Scharlott examines Palin’s pregnancy in great detail, laying out more than 20 pages of photos and other evidence – largely compiled from quotes by Palin herself. He concludes that Palin did indeed fake her pregnancy with Trig, not only to cover for her daughter Bristol, but also to gain pro-life street cred with the far right. He then goes on to examine the role that the press played in helping to cover up the hoax, intentionally or not, by never investigating it thoroughly enough. Had journalists dug deeper, the answers were easy enough to find.

After all, with all the press Donald Trump has received recently for the birther issue, it is time the OTHER birther issue was given equal space.


In any case, Scharlott has now gotten into a public spat with Palin’s former spokesman, and, in response, author Joe McGinniss is promising that his forthcoming book on Palin will deal with the Trig issue. So don’t expect this to go away any time soon.

Here is Scharlott’s paper, which “has not yet been accepted” for presentation at an academic event:

Prof. Brad Scharlott – Palin, the Press, and the Fake Pregnancy Rumor


24 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Syrin
    Apr 13, 2011 @ 21:18:40

    Can’t ignore…..Two odd photos exist from a Myspace page belonging to a young blond woman identified as Mercedes (or in some sources Sadie) who is supposedly Levi Johnston’s sister. In the photos, Mercedes / Sadie is holding an infant. They are undated as far as I can see, though the baby in them is very young, less than a month in my opinion.

    Here is a screen shot of the whole page for context.


    • EDC
      Apr 14, 2011 @ 04:19:24

      I always like you analysis, but I don’t understand what you are concluding from Mercedes’ pictures- please let me know!
      I don’t believe that Trig is Sarah’s child and what disturbs me about the photos is the size of the baby and the ruffled ear, but the captions seem to be silly, shmoopy teenage girl stuff that either cancel each other out or validate that she believed Trig to be Palin’s.
      Can you clarify for me?
      I am waiting for Palin to be exposed and I am frustrated it is taking this story so long to be verified!

      Thanks for your level-headed doggedness on all things Quitter!


  2. beth
    Apr 13, 2011 @ 21:27:00

    Our President has to be questioned about his birth place, what does that make us look like to other countries but no one questions Wacko salin about what is right smack in your face. What does that make us look like to other countries. A laughing stock. A wacko isn’t investigated but the President is.


  3. beth
    Apr 13, 2011 @ 22:07:12

    Looked at the pictures again. I’ve done a lot of family trees. this is what I get out of this. Mercedes calls Trigg her baby brother. This to me means her father and Bristol had a baby which would mean bristol could be mercides step mother (if they had married) and this is why she calls sarah mommy in law. If you think this is far fetched try a family tree from the deep south, you’d be shocked. I’m from the south that’s why I was shocked, It happens.


  4. freshwatersnark
    Apr 13, 2011 @ 22:13:13

    The news here is not exposing Sarah Palin’s faked pregnancy. The evidence for that was available two years ago. The news is exposing the herd instinct of the media, and, dare I say it, its sexist assumptions. Sexism doesn’t always work against women. The flip side of male sexism is chivalry — in this case, not questioning what a woman says about her conception, pregnancy, labor and delivery. I learned the basics about labor and delivery when my wife was pregnant 25 years ago, and Sarah Palin’s story was, and is, simply incredible. I don’t know the truth about how Trig came into the world, but I know Palin’s account has to be a lie.


    • AlaskanAlsoII
      Apr 14, 2011 @ 05:34:42

      Let’s say she was pregnant for the sake of argument. Fine.

      Her Wild Ride story in and of itself should have canceled out this woman’s viability as an electable leader and that of her shadow Governor Todd.

      They were both extraordinarily irresponsible with her schedule carrying a special needs, high risk baby. Taking an out-of-state speaking gig so late in her Third Trimester is highly suspicious of someone so concerned about their baby. Bullshit.

      She wanted to ‘lose’ the baby while looking like a hero, or simply come off from a fantastical Wild Ride as a Frontier Woman hero. Either way, she would come off as superwoman and pitied or celebrated. In this case, she was celebrated.

      And going back to work with a rather large and healthy premie with special needs three days living? Bullshit again.

      And as a postpartum woman in the first throes as a first term Governor – accepting a unimaginably demanding role on a national ticket with school age children (who don’t have their shit together as it is) and a special needs infant in tow? Call Child Services, this woman is seriously unbalanced. Octomom has nothing on her.

      Either way, pregnant or not, this horrible person is a whack-job and needs to know that there are consequences for such behavior.

      This story reeks.


    • Dis Gusted
      Apr 14, 2011 @ 08:34:28

      that’s always been my theory – Keith Johnston got out of town real fast because at the time she got pregnant, Bristol was 15.


  5. beth
    Apr 13, 2011 @ 23:06:17

    Trigg is Levis and Mercides brother. Tripp is not Levis, that was all staged and bought by palin and the republicans. Never hear anything about Levi anymore I doubt if any of these children where really Levis , why would he have dropped out of sight like this. Palin would be out there telling the world what a dead beat dad he is, her silence speaks. Levi was used as a prop and paid for his silence. He did say what he knew and then went on tv and said he was immature with his statements. Bought and paid for by the Palin family.


  6. Ivyfree
    Apr 14, 2011 @ 02:20:18

    Personally, I strongly believe that Trig was born to Bristol. There’s her own comment on facebook, laughing about how her mother thinks she’s pregnant. “Haha I’m a slut,” she wrote, along with widespread rumors of her pregnancy and her disappearance from public view. There’s also her aunt Heather’s statement that Bristol lived with her and went to school while she was pregnant, which (given the timeline) could not have referred to a pregnancy resulting in Tripp, her publicly acknowledged son, at the end of December 2008. On top of that, Sarah’s history is not one of charity and compassion. I can’t believe she would assume even the nominal responsibility of being Trig’s mother unless it benefited first herself, and second, someone close to her. Given that, I believe Bristol to be the most likely birth mother. The identity of his birth mother, though, isn’t enormously relevant to this story.

    It’s not as important as the fact that Sarah Palin lied to us all and co-opted another woman’s pregnancy, birth and special needs child, to be callously used for personal political advantage. Sarah’s phony pregnancy, revealed in its supposed seven months, wasn’t met with smiles and comments of “I wondered.” It was met with universal astonishment. Women who worked with her every day said she simply didn’t look pregnant. There are photos of her changing belly size, and pictures that reveal a square-edged pad of some kind under her shirt. (Palin evidently knows very little about photo analysis, although she knew enough to have her picture deleted from Alaskan government web pages, unless they could be reliably dated to a time well before the appearance of SOMEBODY’S Trig pregnancy.) Bellies simply do not switch from flat, to full and squared-off, to flat, to extremely large and round, and then vanish to the point where flight attendants, checking seatbelts, do not notice a 35 week pregnancy. On top of that, Palin’s story of contractions and leaking amniotic fluid in a seventh pregnancy (she claims two miscarriages) over a period of 20 hours, 5 weeks pre-term, in what she claims was a known Down syndrome pregnancy with its associated high risk of cardiac anomalies, while taking two transcontinental flights and an associated layover without once being checked at a hospital, simply is not believable.

    Palin writes movingly of how she “fell in love” with this baby. She writes of her fear when she was in Dallas and was having contractions. “Desperate, I prayed..” she writes. She was desperate, but it never occurred to her to go to a hospital? In a premature labor with an infant with Down syndrome? Would any mother take such a risk? Would any father permit it? Supposedly, this is Todd’s son, and at high risk, and he’s just dandy with his wife avoiding medical care? There are three hospitals in Dallas with Level 3 NICUS; there are at least two in Seattle (where the layover was); there is only one in Alaska. In Anchorage. Where Sarah’s flight landed. Nonetheless, 20 hours after Sarah began leaking fluid and contracting, she drove past that NICU–equipped hospital and 40 miles to Wasilla, to go to a hospital upon whose board of directors she used to serve, a hospital that has no NICU, a hospital which does not do high-risk deliveries (which this would have been, for several reasons), where Trig finally made his public appearance.

    And people believe this story. Then-Senator Obama responded to rumors about his supposed (and irrelevant) foreign birth by releasing his birth certificate, which has been checked and verified numerous times, and we’re still reading about this idiocy- but nobody bothered to question Palin about her ridiculous Wild Ride story, which she has modified, changing the Trig’s gestational stage from 35 weeks to 32 weeks and his birth location from Wasilla to Anchorage. (And at 32 weeks’ gestation, he supposedly weighed 6 lbs 2 ounces? And was able to leave the hospital the next day? Say what?)

    These are just a few of the absurdities in Sarah’s story. This isn’t crazy birtherism, this is looking at what Sarah has said and written and asking: does this even make sense? How could this have happened this way? Simply, it could not. Sarah is lying, and she used that lie to gain political advantage. She had no significant legislative history to point to: her status as a candidate was purely a sop flung to prolife advocates.

    There really are two stories here. One is that the Republican party nominated and enthusiastically promoted a woman who was not only incompetent, but ignorant and unwilling to learn, purely in an attempt to win an election and without the slightest concern for the country which might have fallen to her responsibility. (See “Game Change” for how McCain staffers debated what could be done with her if they won: formal teas, they thought, and possibly military funerals.)

    The second story is that a subjugated press, so determined to get the official story, what McCain and his staffers wanted them to publish, ignored journalistic standards and common sense and the elephant in the room: Sarah Palin’s story of Trig’s gestation and birth is as fishy as her husband’s boat.


  7. Beaglemom
    Apr 14, 2011 @ 04:06:46

    Ivyfree is absolutely right. I think one reason the media has not approached the subject is reporter “squeamishness” about the medical aspects, especially about the “wild ride.” But, we mothers recognize a tall pregnancy tale when we hear one.


    • nswfm
      Apr 14, 2011 @ 09:38:02

      I’m not a mom, but knew her story was bullshit from the word go when she had a leak and didn’t go straight to the hospital. This story is really about how our media is so fucked up that it doesn’t do reporting anymore. The strong media is the backbone of a strong democracy. What we have is a joke/fraud at this point in both the media and in our voting systems (see recent election in WS and the results are just getting worse and worse.


  8. AlaskanAlsoII
    Apr 14, 2011 @ 05:40:52

    Oh look everybody, it’s an iconic image of a mother’s love for her special needs child!


  9. dmoreno
    Apr 14, 2011 @ 05:47:41

    Excellent Recap, Ivyfree. Please copy and paste it over to those idiots who did the internet show yesterday. They need a beginner’s course in facts, common sense, and asking questions.


  10. Syrin
    Apr 14, 2011 @ 09:27:36

    Appreciate that the msm has taken this story one step further. I’ve stayed clear of this subject. My opinion on this subject has been based on a few important circumstances and totally independent. People… Bristol did not have the child name Trig, born in Arpril 08 ?! There is NO WAY it could have happened, because Bristol was pregnant with Levi Johnston’s child Tripp Johnston, born in Dec. 08 who Levi is presently payng child support for, so he does belong to Levi.. So lets not add that impossiblity to this mix! The thought that a 16 year old Sadie Johnston would NOT know the correct family labels of relationships is laughable to me. I’ve raised 3 children. They know the relationships between themselves and of those around them.
    Kids always write appropriate captions to their pictures when sharing with their friends, as did Mercedes on her MySpace Page… Another thing.. No boyfriend or girlfriend would be a part of the birth if it where me having a baby..I’ve done some asking around and that would be the case for most women. The Sherry Johnston story is an interesting one. Remember, I live in Wasilla!! I continue to maintain my opinion that it is very possible that it was Sherry Johnston who gave birth, (unplanned pregnancy- it happens) perhaps after Keith left her she got into a relationship that went bad.
    Moving forward….Shortly after Sherry’s drug bust.. it was almost forced on the public as a major part of the story that she had a hysterectomy. At the time it seemd the media was making the connection that she was doing drugs because of a medical condition. But, I’m sorry, I just can’t get over it……What the hell is the sister of the boyfriend doing holding the infant of the girlfriends mother and calling it her (little baby brother)? Also note: Bristol looks like she’s at the beginning of her pregnancy with Tripp in this picture and Sarah Palin does not look or is positioned as if she just gave birth. Finally, it is Sherry Johnston who is taking these photos!!! One big happy family!?! The Johnstons are involved in this in some way! Quite possible and very convenient for the Palins at the time. All IMHO


  11. akbatwoman
    Apr 14, 2011 @ 11:43:42

    I have always wondered why Sarah Palin continued to be bundled up in big warm jackets after she announced the pregnancy, and there was no longer any need to conceal it. I myself am an Alaskan who went through two pregnancies up here. It didn’t matter if it was October, November, December, January, February or March…………..I was always uncomfortably hot. Now it’s April, I’m not seven months pregnant, and I’m walking around in just a small fleece in the forty, forty-five degree weather.

    I guess I’d really be interested in seeing a birth certificate at this point. Or at least a 60 Minutes episode on the professor’s paper.


  12. WakeUpAmerica
    Apr 14, 2011 @ 13:52:48

    “Sarah Palin probably staged a giant hoax about being Trig’s mother.” Oh really? YA THINK??!! Sheesh.


  13. mappy
    Apr 14, 2011 @ 16:57:36

    @ Ivy,
    Great post. I have read that the conference was located in Grapevine, a suburb of Dallas which is also the northern entrance to DFW airport. Grapevine itself has a level III NICU, so she could have even gone in on the way to the airport. While a Level III NICU could have been very helpful in the case of an imminent birth, if Sarah was truly concerned, she could have gone to any ER and been seen as well. Grapevine is between Dallas and Fort Worth, and the entire Metroplex hosts probably about 15-20 level III units, most of which are located in the centers of town or north of town. Depending on traffic, she could have been to any of them within a 30 minute drive from Grapevine.


  14. Sisuanna
    Apr 16, 2011 @ 15:57:02

    Interesting blog. There is one troubling thing about that picture. Many Down Syndrome babies at 4 months are not that well-muscled. It takes months to get them to that level. Not wacky on the point but that child could be closer to a year. Don’t know if it is the problem with the child or the info with the pic.


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