LN: I am back with Professor Brad Scharlott. Today he offers his analysis of the few photographs available on the Internet of Mrs. Palin purportedly pregnant in the Spring of 2008. Here he compresses them into a fascinating timeline.
BS: Let’s examine changes in Sarah Palin’s shape in the month or so before April 18, 2008, when she claimed to give birth to Trig. Consider the following four pictures, all of which have been lightened to show better detail, but no other changes have been made:
The next picture, to the right, was published on April 14 of this year (more than three years after it was taken) in the Anchorage Daily News, accompanying an article by Julia O’Malley titled “Make. It. Stop.” (The “It” she wants stopped is any further examination of the faked-pregnancy question. The point of the picture was to “prove” that Palin was pregnant in March 2008.) This picture, as far as I can determine, was not published in 2008.
Next over are two screen shots, one above the other, taken a fraction of a second apart as a video camera panned down. These were taken by Israeli filmmaker Elan Frank on either April 8 or 9 (he shot footage on both days). Palin, standing in her kitchen in these shots, was talking on a phone while smoothing her scarf. Fox News bought the video footage and showed the clip these screen shots came from. (The screen shots were captured at about the 0:16 mark of this video: Elan Frank Interviews Sarah Palin-April 2008 part 1.)
Finally we see Palin shot from the side five days before the purported birth. This picture is a cropped version of a photo showing Palin being interviewed by KTVA-TV reporter Andrea Gusty in the capitol building in Juneau. The curious circumstances surrounding the origin of this photo will warrant a closer look in the future.
Laura, does anything jump out at you as you view these four pictures? Keep in mind they are in chronological order.
LN: The first thing I notice is that Mrs. Palin appears wider in March than she does in April. But playing the contrarian here, I’m going to say that’s just angles and lighting.
But also (too) in March, Mrs. Palin appears to have, as crazy as it sounds, a bulge in her upper back. And worse still, a light stripe down her back, just along her shoulder blade. As if she had a bullet proof vest or something ELSE PADDED on underneath her black suit. Again, I recognize that I have a tendency to SHOUT a lot during our conversations. But you see, I feel as if I’ve just fallen down a rabbit hole and I want to make sure you can HEAR ME because these photos are freaking me out. And I just want someone to Make.It.Stop.
The third thing is that the final picture, known widely as the “Gusty Photo,” indicates a rather massive amount of fetal development over the course of four days. And of course, the absence of the ubiquitous scarf. As if to say, “Look at this!”
BS: Let’s take those points one at a time. As to Palin’s width, she looks wider in that photo than the human eye would have perceived her because of lens distortion. The right-hand picture in this box is how she would have looked to someone viewing her at the scene:
For the technically oriented, the distortion fix involved a “keystoning” correction (because the photograph was shot from below) and a horizontal perspective correction because a wide-angle lens caused a “stretching” of elements. (And thanks to commenters on your blog, Laura, who helped me correctly diagnose the distortion issue in this picture after we discussed it here a short time ago.)
So you are right, Laura, she truly was not as “wide” as she appeared in the first picture – which makes the contrast between the first and second pictures in the timeline box even greater. Let me also say I am virtually certain she is wearing the same jacket in both those pictures – note the collar and the pockets. (It may be the same jacket in all the pictures, in fact, but it’s harder to tell with the last ones.) So the jacket is big enough to accommodate a very pregnant Palin. But for some reason she is not filling it out in the first picture. And note the flat stomach below her scarf.
In the second picture, the extra room in that jacket is being taken up by … what? … huge shoulder pads? Not to be unkind, but Palin looks like a linebacker in this photo. And compare that torso profile to the one in the two screen shots just to the right of it – she looks positively svelte in those. Plus Palin’s profile simply looks wrong in this photo. I just looked at a bunch of side shots of very pregnant women online, and the way her back slopes from her head seems abnormal. With most very pregnant women, the weight of the large belly causes the back to arch forward, but in this shot of Palin, the heaviness of her torso seems to hang straight down from her shoulders.
And finally the most remarkable change of all – the appearance of a large round belly on April 13, whereas four or five days earlier, there was no baby bump at all in the screen shots. Again, the Elan Frank video played on Fox News and can be seen on YouTube; its authenticity cannot be doubted. And while the fourth photo appeared under mysterious circumstances, there is no reason to think it has been altered.
So my question to you, Laura, is what could account for the change in body mass in those four photos – she seems to go from smaller to bigger to smaller to bigger, and not just a little bit. The change from the video screen shots to the last photo are especially striking.
LN: See, I disagree with you here on one point, Brad. I think she does look like there is something under her ubiquitous black jacket in the Elan Frank video still shots. So I wouldn’t say completely flat. But certainly slimmer than what, quite literally, pops out at us in the right-hand side Gusty photo. But remember that those Frank photos were taken during the same shoot as the Sponge Sarah Square Pillow photo we analyzed the other day. And I might add that someone contacted me to say that he is a Photoshop “expert” himself and that everything you said about the square pillow was right on target.
As far as explaining this to you, I cannot. I would like to claim, yet again, angles and lighting and some other-worldly force that can explain the shape shifting that went on with this woman and her pregnancy. All I can say is that in a recent post I showed myself at 5 months. I got big. And then I got bigger. And then bigger with my own pregnancy. There was simply no going back.
And speaking of backs: Do you think that is the bulge and outline of a pregnancy belly? Don’t you have a photo of one of those things somewhere?
BS: Well, there’s no getting around the idea that Palin might have been wearing a prosthesis – a “fat suit” – in the second and fourth photos. A variety of such fake pregnancy devices are available on the Internet and through other channels. In the graphic below I show one from eBay and superimpose it over the image of Palin from the Gusty photo.
BS: And yes, Laura, as you suggest, a fat suit could account for the bulge in the shoulder and other oddities in the second picture.
I’m not going to sugar-coat this. I can see no explanation other than a prosthesis for the astonishing changes in Palin’s body shape in the month before her purported delivery of Trig. And I seriously would like your readers in the comments section to let me know if they have other ideas.
LN: Thank you again, Brad, for your time. I also want to highlight this fascinating website:
I know there are a lot of models out there and places to purchase fake baby bellies (who knew?) But I found this site interesting because it shows the different stages one can purchase. And how small and portable these devices can be (and how easily they might fly back from Texas!)
And finally, I want to leave this post with this thought: I am wide open to hearing from anyone, anywhere, who knows for certain that the then-governor was indeed pregnant - and can prove it. Because the idea of a sitting governor strapping on fake baby foam, in an assortment of sizes and colors, just gets too crazy town for me. And I want – I welcome - someone to prove that Mrs. Palin gave birth to Trig on 4/18/08 so we can put this puppy to bed (even though the good neonatologist has shown in a recent, barn-burner of a post, that the baby presented as such was born earlier than that day.)
Problem is: I’m hearing about a definitive hoax from “readers in the know.” Trust me when I say that a great many of you in Alaska are reading this blog and writing to me. And so far I’m only hearing from folks who say it was common knowledge that Mrs. Palin faked it. And it was common knowledge that “other” family members were pregnant. Others who supposedly can offer proof of a pregnancy are closing down like Ipswich clams. Please, email me at: LaNovakAuthor@yahoo.com