BS: One of the things I found fascinating when researching my spiral of silence paper was that there is no compelling evidence that Tripp was born to Bristol and Levi in late December of 2008, as reported. The first dated images of Tripp come from the Feb. 16 interview with Greta Van Susteren on Fox. Here is a screenshot from that:
The only prior images of Tripp I am aware of are a few undated pictures seemingly taken by the Palins and shown in that interview or posted at a site for family pictures, or both. Here is one of those pictures, which you just featured in a post, Laura:
So photographic evidence does not help establish a date of birth.
Also noteworthy is this composite of three photos of Bristol taken at the Iron Dog competition on Feb. 8, 2009, and originally shown by Gryphen:
Here is what Gryphen wrote at the time concerning the fact that Bristol’s belly looked somewhat large, perhaps a post-partum effect, even six weeks after the alleged delivery:
"… I did some research and found that post partum bellies come in all shapes and sizes. And that it is conceivable that this is how Bristol's stomach still looks after giving birth only 6 weeks ago. However I also found that it was even more likely to be that size if the birth was more recent or if it was not the woman's first baby." [Italics added.]
So what’s your take, Laura? Does Bristol look six weeks post-partum? Or might the birth have been more recent?
LN: I don’t want to muddy the waters here, but if I had no idea what you were talking about and I saw this photo of a total stranger for the first time, I would say she is pregnant. Ha! So, then let’s say she is post-partum. And I have no way to tell if this is recent or six weeks later. I just have no idea how she fit into jeans. Period. As usual, nothing about these women and their before and after shots makes any sense.
BS: Again, there is no compelling evidence that Tripp was born in December of 2008. The “announcement,” such as it was, came from a great-aunt in Washington state who had not actually seen the baby, and who told People magazine about the birth. Sarah Palin’s office refused to comment on the alleged birth until People had published the information – thus giving Palin an "out" if the date was later shown to be wrong, as she could say she was relying on the magazine.
The AP tried to confirm the birth, but the Mat-Su hospital would not comment, nor would the grandparents, Chuck and Sallie Heath, even though Chuck was the one who sent the information to the great-aunt in the first place.
LN: Why the shell game? Especially for a baby whose birth is the reason why Bristol could not have theoretically given birth to Trig. One would think that the date of his birth was critical to their narrative.
BS: Well, maybe the baby was born later than Dec. 27, as Gryphen’s comment above suggests. How much later? Who knows? But for the sake of argument, let’s assume that the baby was born about Jan. 27, 2009, one month later than the reported date of birth, and see how the available evidence squares with that.
Let’s begin by counting backwards. If the baby was born in late January, that means he was likely conceived in late April.
In that case, this photo from August 24, where Bristol, in a loose-fitting top, shows no apparent baby bump nor enlarged bosom, seems to make good sense, as she would only be about 4 months pregnant:
What doesn’t make sense, however, is this picture from the Republican National Convention 8 to 10 days later:
LN: Obviously, her bust did not explode in size in less than two weeks – and the baby bump suddenly became apparent. What happened?
BS: I have a theory about that. To make that theory clear, we need to start with the following news photo of Sarah, published on March 14, about a week after she declared she was 7 months pregnant, showing her with a flat belly that simply cannot belong to a middle-aged mother of four at that stage of pregnancy. On August 28, the same day McCain named her as his VP choice, a post appeared at the Daily Kos site and then quickly spread across the Internet accusing Palin of faking the birth of Trig, and the post included this picture:
My guess is that when Steve Schmidt, the head of McCain’s re-election team, first saw the photo, he nearly shat himself, because it made clear that McCain’s apparently un-vetted VP running mate almost certainly had faked Trig’s birth.
LN: That’s a career-killer, all the way around.
BS: Right. So, I’m guessing a highly charged meeting took place a day or so later, with Schmitt, John McCain, Sarah Palin, and her press secretary Bill McAllister (at least) attending. Palin presumably fessed up about the hoax, explaining that she claimed to be Trig’s mother to cover for Bristol.
Schmitt and McCain knew it would be suicide for the campaign to either throw Palin off the ticket or acknowledge the hoax. But two things must have given them hope they could bluff their way through. First, someone (presumably McAllister) allegedly had the foresight to stage a few pictures of Palin looking very pregnant (almost certainly while wearing a fake pregnancy belly) in April. And Palin revealed to them that Bristol was again pregnant. And again, my supposition is that Bristol was only about four months pregnant at the RNC.
If I am right about that, it follows that the McCain team then devised one of the most daring campaign ploys in the history of American politics. They decided to exaggerate and announce that Bristol was five months pregnant and therefore could not possibly be Trig’s mother if Trig was born in April, as Sarah Palin claimed – and thus, the logic went, Sarah must be the mother.
Of course, this would work only if the press corps was so gullible they would not figure out that if there had been a hoax, Trig very possibly was not born in April. But sadly the press corps in this country have often proven themselves quite gullible, and the Trig affair was no exception.
LN: And of course, they were dealing with sacrosanct information: medical information. No way to get anyone to go on the record about that stuff.
BS: So the plan was set, and the April photos of big-belly Sarah were posted to Flickr on August 31 by an untraceable person – they would soon be shown to reporters as proof of Sarah’s pregnancy. The next day, Bristol was thrown under the bus as her pregnancy was announced to the world. And the lap dog press – not to be confused with the mythical watchdog press – said to Sarah, “Tell us anything you like and we’ll accept it as truth, no matter how preposterous,” instead of “Show us Trig’s birth certificate” or “Why would a sane women wait 20 hours after her water broke to go to a hospital?”
But what could the McCain team do to make Bristol look demonstrably pregnant?Bristol probably did not bring maternity clothes to the RNC and she could not go shopping unnoticed. My guess is Meghan McCain, John’s daughter, gave Bristol one of her dresses. Of course the voluptuous Meghan is much larger in the bosom than Bristol. Here is a comparison:
Apparently the way they filled out the top of the borrowed dress was to put something like a small pillow over Bristol’s chest, accounting for the very odd shape of her bosom at the RNC. They seemingly put some padding around her belly as well.
So does this theory sound plausible, Laura?
LN: It does. It sounds as plausible as anything else. Whatever the explanation, Bristol’s bust line at the RNC will, and should, go down in history as the strangest, most awful presentation of a young woman on the public stage ever. No matter what the story, her mother should feel shame every time she sees one of those photos. Every single time.
BS: After the RNC, very few pictures of Bristol appeared in 2008. Here is screen capture from the Keith Olbermann/MSNBC show of Oct. 14:
To my eye, Bristol looks closer to 6 months pregnant here than 7 (especially if we assume it is her second pregnancy), which supports a late April conception date and the idea she was only 4 months pregnant at the RNC – but of course pregnant women can vary a great deal in appearance. For comparison, here is a picture of Demi Moore in the seventh month of her second pregnancy:
So what is the truth relating to Tripp’s date of birth? If forced to bet, I’d wager either he was born after Dec. 27 or his birth was induced at least a few weeks early on Dec. 27. In the later case, the press would have been kept away to prevent them from learning of the induction, because only a full-term birth in December would support the story told by the McCain team at the RNC.
But stop and think, Laura – this is the second Palin baby born within a year for which no official information is available. Why did the Palins find it necessary to blow smoke into the eyes of the press and public for both of these births? Why have we been forced to speculate like this in our effort to find the truth?
LN: Especially since we’ve already said that this birth should have been shouted from the tree tops. It was the proof, the only proof, of what they had claimed.
You know, I want to add one more thing here. In that Greta interview, there comes a point when Bristol’s own baby is brought in, and then a babysitter brings in Trig. For a fleeting moment, Bristol looks at Trig and there is such sadness in her face. I nearly fell over the first time I saw it. As I recall, Trig was very hypotonic, meaning low muscle tone, and seemingly low functioning at that time. I didn’t see a sister thinking, Oh, he’s so cute. He must have just woken up. I saw a young woman looking at her own child with the agony of someone keeping a deep secret and someone who has had to hand over that child. If it’s true, I can’t imagine the kind of cognitive dissonance required to survive in that household. It was a brief moment, but it was a form of “proof” that I’ve never forgotten.
Thank you again, Brad Scharlott, for taking the time to talk with us about this. And thanks to reader Molly for sending a great collection of photos.