Palin-biographer Joe McGinniss, whose excellent book "The Rogue" most likely was "the last straw which broke Sarah Palin's political ambitions", gave a remarkable new interview for "The Sydney Morning Herald."
I was pleased to see that the "mystery of little Trig", as "The Sydney Morning Herald" calls it, doesn't seem to be "no-go" issue in Australia. The controversy regarding the question whether Sarah Palin's pregnancy was faked or not is only briefly discussed in the article, however, and most importantly in my opinion, it is discussed without the usual "it's just a nutty conspiracy" warning which is "standard procedure" for virtually all American media outlets who mention this issue.
The interview is refreshing to read as Joe McGinniss doesn't mince words. He very nicely explains some aspects of the simple and ugly truth about Sarah Palin.
Excerpts from the article in "The Sydney Morning Herald":
The Palins built a three-metre-high fence. He had death threats. The publicity boiled along all summer. The market was panting by the time The Rogue appeared in September last year.
"Palin did everything she could to stop it," says McGinniss. "She threatened. She had a lawyer announce she was considering a lawsuit." That didn't happen. But within weeks of publication, Palin announced she would not be running in 2012.
McGinniss is far from claiming sole responsibility. As he sees it, Palin faced two problems running for the Republican nomination this year: she didn't have a hope of winning and any attempt would expose her to the sort of scrutiny that would put at risk her lucrative new career as a political celebrity.
"These people worked out a way to game the system," McGinniss says of the Palin family. "I don't blame them. They are just grifters who suddenly saw a chance at the main chance and they were clever enough and canny enough to take it. The American media was so gullible and the right wing was so desperate for new heroic figures that they basically got a free ride. She knew she wouldn't get a free ride this year in 2012."
His attack on Palin is full throttle. "I think everything about her is false. I think her claims of super Christianity are as false as everything else. She discovered who she needed to be to play to a very small audience in her town of Wasilla and she has calculated her way every step of the way. There has been an opening for a woman of the extreme right. She saw that.
"Even in Alaska there were no openings for educated, intelligent women of the left because Alaska - part of the anomaly that is the state - had a number of those already. What they needed was a militant crusader for evangelical values. And she combined - and we can never underestimate this - raw sex appeal with Christian platitudes. The Anchorage Daily News called her 'The Joan of Arc of Alaska politics'. There was nothing subtle about it."
What followed in his eyes was a tale of cunning and vengeance; high ambition and lazy performance; bobsleds and cocaine; a toxic marriage that saw Todd sleeping on the couch most nights and the kids roaming the neighbourhood looking for a feed. Then young Track was shunted off to the military after the high-school bus fleet was mysteriously vandalised one winter.
McGinniss devotes hilarious and scurrilous pages to the mystery of little Trig, the Down syndrome baby born soon after Palin won John McCain's endorsement. "The story she tells of her pregnancy and the birth simply can't be true," says McGinniss who wonders if the "birth" was designed to make Palin the poster child of the Right to Life.
"It would be the most cynical ploy and the greatest hoax ever pulled off in American politics," he says. Pursuing the story with him are bloggers and the influential columnist Andrew Sullivan. But McGinniss despairs of the failure of the "establishment media" to take the story seriously. He doesn't believe the issue is yet settled either way: "I remain Trignostic," he says.
Joe McGinniss took a huge risk in extensively discussing the "unresolved" question about Trig's birth in his book. Discussing this issue without slamming it as a "conspiracy theory" puts an author firmly outside the mainstream in the USA. Including this issue in the book probably harmed Joe McGinniss, as it most likely encouraged some reviewers to harshly criticize the book. This is also evident from the most "infamous" review of "The Rogue", published by Janet Maslin in "The New York Times", where she wrote on September 14, 2011:
With the same imprecise aim he cites conspiracy theories that Ms. Palin may not be the mother of her youngest son, Trig, and questions the circumstances under which he was born. Mr. McGinniss puts forth a provocative case for doubting Ms. Palin’s account of Trig’s birth, which involved a round trip between Alaska and Texas while she was supposedly in labor. But then he comes to an indefensibly reckless conclusion: “It is perhaps the most blistering assessment of her character possible that many Wasillans who’d known Sarah from high school onward told me that even if she had not faked the entire story of her pregnancy and Trig’s birth, it was something she was eminently capable of doing.”
I have written about the pathetic attempts by the US media to bury the "Trig question" many times, for example HERE, HERE and HERE. The problem is that not only did Sarah Palin fake a pregnancy - but that the US media also did fake a "debunker" of these claims. Given the fact that several major liberal or progressive journalists are publicly committed to the idea that Sarah Palin's faked pregnancy is a nutty conspiracy theory, it is unlikely that new facts will surface anytime soon, as it could virtually destroy a journalistic career to touch this issue. This is a sad state of affairs, and I guess that we now have all learned that there definitely are areas where the US media is just not willing to go, that there are scandals that will never be revealed because for one reason or the other it appears to be inappropriate "to go there."
It is hard to imagine how many scandals have never been explored by the US media because touching the issue on hand was simply "too inconvenient." When I had contact with journalists, I was told several times that hard proof is needed in order to report about the allegations concerning Sarah Palin's pregnancy with Trig. However, "hard proof" curiously never stopped the media to report for example about the allegations that President Obama was not born in the USA.
Therefore I have the greatest respect towards Joe McGinniss - as well as towards Andrew Sullivan. As far as I am aware, Joe McGinniss didn't plan to investigate the "private scandals" of Sarah Palin in greater detail when he started to research his book. It appeared to me, being aware of some backgound conversations, that he wasn't keen to delve into this material. However, along the way, Joe McGinniss changed his mind - and this was a brave act. He reported in great detail in his book about for example the pregnancy, and made it absolutely clear that this issue is not a "conspiracy theory" at all, but an important question which needs to be taken seriously. He also wasn't shy to talk about this topic in the interviews following the publication of his book - and he still is not shy to talk about it, and that demands the greatest respect.
Joe McGinniss gave several very good interviews after the publication of his book, and one interview which was particularly revealing was his conversation with Joy Behar from September 21, 2011, as they talked in length about the pregnancy. For unknown reasons, the video clip of this interview doesn't seem to be available online, but the transcript can be found on the CNN-website.
From the transcript:
BEHAR: Now, the one big allegation in the book that I think is a problem is that the rumor that Trig was not her baby, this Down syndrome child, that you and Andrew Sullivan are putting this out there, right?
MCGINNISS: No. No. No. All Andrew`s been doing for two years is asking why the mainstream media has not looked at the story she has told about the events leading up to her birth, the hours before Trig`s birth ...
BEHAR: What`s the implication?
MCGINNISS: Because the story -- because if that story, which really defies belief, if you look at it step by step by step, if that story isn`t true, why would she make it up? Why would she be telling it and why would she be claiming that this was happening?
BEHAR: Why would she? Why would she?
MCGINNISS: I have no idea.
BEHAR: OK, let me tell you what her son-in-law said.
BEHAR: He was just here and I asked him that question. And he said, she was in the hospital, he was in the hospital, he went to visit her when she gave birth to Trig. She was on IV and the baby was there in the hospital. He was there ...
MCGINNISS: He got there -- he didn`t witness the birth.
BEHAR: Oh, no. How many people witness a birth?
MCGINNISS: I witnessed the birth of all five of my children.
BEHAR: Yeah, but that`s your children. He was not the father of the child. He was just a guy who slept with her daughter.
MCGINNISS: The point is she was in Dallas, Texas. Her water breaks. She waits nine hours, she doesn`t go to a hospital in Dallas, Texas. She`s a high risk mother ...
MCGINNISS: having a high risk pregnancy, having a special needs child, she`s thousands of miles away from home, she doesn`t do anything once her water breaks and she goes -- starts having contractions, what does she do? She`s having contractions, she makes a speech.
BEHAR: But how do you know she`s having contractions?
MCGINNISS: She makes up political speech.
BEHAR: How do you know?
MCGINNISS: She said so.
BEHAR: So, then you`re saying that she then got on a plane, went to Seattle and gave another speech or something, or -- right?
MCGINNISS: She waited -- she flew for hours, she stopped, she changed planes, she waited for hours, she flew more hours, all the while getting closer and closer to birth bypassing major medical facilities with neonatal intensive care units to get to a tiny little backwoods hospital in Wasilla ...
MCGINNISS: ... where all of a sudden the next day here is this baby, and here is Sarah and this is her story.
BEHAR: This is kind of a bombshell allegation or theory or rumor whatever you want to call it.
MCGINNISS: It is not -- Listen, I don`t want to call it an allegation, I don`t make an allegation.
MCGINNISS: I say that the mainstream media has been very derelict in its duty to inquire into this, because this is a woman whose political candidacy was based on her proving that she`s a right to lifer. And how does she prove it? She proved it by giving birth to a Down syndrome baby yet there are a whole series of unanswered questions surrounding the circumstances of that birth.
BEHAR: Well, that -- why don`t you investigate this?
MCGINNISS: And I`m only one person ...
BEHAR: You`re an investigative reporter, go investigate more.
MCGINNISS: I`ve been up there -- You know what, I have to write a book. I wrote the book. Now, the media can pick up from where my book takes them. I take you right to a point where I say, I don`t know what happened. Here`s what I do know. Here are the facts, now, let somebody else investigate.
Sooner or later, we will get to know the truth. History proves that at some point, the truth will always be revealed. However, in the case of Sarah Palin's pregnancy, I assume that the truth will only be revealed "later", as courageous investigative journalism seems to be virtually dead in the USA - because from an investigative journalist, I would expect also to touch inconvenient issues, not just the "popular" and "safe" ones.
However, there is another excellent clip which fortunately is available online - Joe McGinniss discussing the issue of Sarah Palins pregnancy on "The View" in September 2011:
Bonus clip, just for the fun of it, unrelated to the pregnancy - a very funny Joy Behar together with a very witty and funny panel of guests talk about Sarah Palin's book "America By Heart":
Our reader maelewis left a very good comment, which I would like to add to the post:
Please allow me to adjust my tinfoil hat because there could be secret devices trying to capture what I type on my computer. I'll have to put tinfoil around my computer for protection, too. Do I believe in conspiracies and media avoiding some subjects because they are too "touchy?" Yes, I do. I'll give a different example. GWB.
When Bush was running for President, an author named J.H.Hatfield (James Hatfield) published a book, "Fortunate Son,," George W. Bush and the making of am American president. The book was published in 2000 by Soft Skull Press which was a small independent press at the time. (It has since been sold). The book is not all that well written and it is in want of good editing, but Hatfield told stories about GWB's wild youth that have covered up in as many places as possible. Hatfield even mentioned George H.W.Bush's experience in the CIA as assisting in the coverup. One story that always impressed me as believable was the one about GWB being involved in an auto accident. Because of the accident, the police had the right to search his car, and they found cocaine. Later, when GWB wanted to run for political office, this would be part of his driving record. No problem, his attorney, Alberto Gonzalez (future Attorney General) suggested letting GWB's driver's license expire. Then, when Bush applied for a new license, a new number would be issued. When it came time for the political vetting and background checks, they would run the new number; the old number would be lost and gone forever, along with his record. (The accident was resolved with 6 months of community service).
Hatfield's book was panned and trashed. I found it in the sale bin of a book store, greatly reduced. Hatfield's personal life went from bad to worse, accumulating credit card debts, drinking, drugs and he eventually committed suicide in 2001. The wikipedia entry for Hatfield blames the book as much as the other things. A year later, HBO aired a documentary about Hatfield, "Horns and Halos." Whatever stories Hatfield had to tell about Bush had been discredited. Dan Rather tried to expose Bush's preferential treatment in the Air National Guard, and he received the same treatment because some documents appeared forged. No one disputed the facts of Rather's report, just the photocopied and faxed documents.
The bottom line is that I know someone in the newspaper business. I have told him about these stories, and he won't touch them. Once Hatfield was discredited, no one would touch him or his stories. Ditto for Rather's rather suspect documents. As far as the truth about George W. Bush, his record as President speaks for itself and is more damning than cocaine, an auto accident and the Air National Guard. He was a failure. His invasion of Iraq was a disaster, with consequences that are still being felt today. Would he have been elected if Hartfield and Rather's stories exposed Bush? Probably, because the sad truth of the 2000 election is that Ralph Nader took away just enough votes, and Gore didn't help himself against the formidable Poppy Bush connections (and Karl Rove). But, I do believe in a conspiracy of silence regarding some stories that deserved investigation and are brushed aside.
Sarah Palin? I believe that the media has adopted an unspoken hands-off attitude regarding Trig and the story of his birth, as unbelievable as the story is. Like Bush, Sarah is seen as a failure because of larger, more serious issues-- her lack of qualifications, her lack of intelligence, her inability to learn anything, her nasty style of speaking, her thin skinned reaction to the slightest criticism.
This is my response:
many thanks for your comment. I fully agree with the conclusion that the media in the USA has adopted an unspoken hands-off attitude regarding Trig and the story of his birth. I can also understand the reasons. However, what concerns me is the fact that journalists in the USA apparently see themselves in a way that they...how shall I put it...that they are also political players - when in reality they should in the first place be independent observers, and above all, should feel a duty to control the actions of politicians, and report the truth, as inconvenient as it might be. It's very unhealthy for a democracy if journalists are mainly partisan players. It's their duty to report about scandals, regardless whether this might "damage" their political "friends" or not. Of course I am describing an "ideal" here. But as far as I can see, journalism in the USA is driven far too much by partisanship. This cannot be good.
I had not heard about Hatfield's story. That is very tragic indeed. It's painful to see that there seems to be a "tradition" in the USA that there a "issues" which simply cannot be touched - and that you might get "punished" if you cross that line, that you are in danger of being "expelled" from the community of the self-declared good and decent folks. There are definitely parallels to the issue of the faked pregnancy, another "no-go" subject, which one should "better not touch." That is all very sad. I can say from experience that this is not the same in every country - but it's a question of "journalistic culture." Such a culture develops over a long period of time.
I am lucky to live in a country in which the standards of investigative journalism are high. But that is mainly due to the fact that there was one new publication after WWII - the "Spiegel", founded in 1947 - that completely changed journalism in Germany, adopting right from the start a radical anti-authoritarian, modern approach, relentlessly exposing the failings and scandals of friends and foes alike, in a way the Western world probably had never seen before. Journalism in the USA could use a dose of that spirit.
I have observed US journalism closely since 2008, as a "newcomer", and I am very disappointed. What I have seen is far from exceptional. It's no big surprise to me that there have been too many bad politicians in power in the USA, and GWB was not the first one, as we all know. Journalists in the USA obviously let politicians get away with far too much and apparently don't take their role seriously enough - with a few exceptions, but it's too little, and sometimes too late.
In the comments, we have a very lively discussion about the shortcoming of the US mainstream media. There seems to be a consensus amongst our readers that the US media doesn't do their job properly, to put it carefully.
There is something I would like to add to the discussion:
In January 2011, while I was blogging for "Palingates", I had a lenghty email-discussion with a respected MSM-journalist. This discussion shines some light on the mentality of MSM-journalists. I am not saying that any MSM-journalist has exactly the same thoughts, but I guess many MSM-journalists would in general agree with the statements which their colleague made in this email exchange in January 2011 (bearing in mind what we already know about the thoughts of MSM-journalists regarding the pregnancy issue, having seen for example the contents of the leaked JournoList emails) .
Some parts of this email-conversation contained confidential information, and of course I won't give any hints regarding the identity of the journalist, but he was working for a major MSM-organisation. It is basically just a "real life case study" as far as the thoughts of MSM-journalists are concerned, the identity is not important.
I can publish some of the messages without redactions, and they provide interesting insights for example into how this journalist perceived the pregnancy issue, and for example what he thought about the role of the bloggers (and about my work at Palingates in particular).
What follows are excerpts from this email exchange - these messages are not edited, just the name of the reporter was deleted.
Your contempt for "the media" is so strange to me. You rely on the media. You share information back and forth. But in your blog you adopt this pose of being anti-media. Who is that exactly? Oprah? The New York Times?
It just seems so, well, rigorous.
You're an advocate. And you're dismissive of those who are not advocates.
It seems so strange.
I'm just saying that your complaining that the media doesn't reflect your reality sounds a lot like which politician in America?
You're saying you've spent two years investigating Sarah Palin. But your blog doesn't convey that. It conveys ridicule of Sarah Palin. There may be some investigation mixed in, yes, but the main message that your Web site conveys is ridicule.
I'm not basing this on what you suggest: some sort of contempt based on my being a professional, and you being an amateur. No, I'm just looking at your work. Take a step back, if possible, open your Web site, and look at it! It's not providing news, but opinion and ridicule. You can't be surprised if you present yourself that way and then are surprised that you are perceived that way. You can say, oh, that's just because (fill in something about the viewer) -- no, look at the work and how it's presented. It's camp. It's mockery. It's ridicule. Most of all, it's advocacy. You can't seriously pretend that you haven't taken sides on the question of Sarah Palin?
Again, thanks for the chat.
Finally, the following exchange:
No, you're not "just a sarcastic blogger." If you were a mainstream journalist and you were off on the same tangent, mixing fact and innuendo freely, I'd tell you the same thing.
But you're obsessed with Sarah Palin's pregnancy, the public policy implications which are nil.
(Please don't send a note telling me why the pregnancy is important. I've read every page on your site, I believe. I've read why you think it's important.)
I am not sure which "innuendo" I am mixing.
Do you think that facts have a "lower value" just because bloggers have
I note that you don't think that it's important that a sitting female
governor and vice-presidential candidate and possible future candidate
for the presidency faked a pregnancy and then not just lied about it
repeatedly, but even exploited the child for political gain.
All I can say is that the huge majority of our readers think it's a
big deal, and they are not stupid, we have a very diverse readership.
I am not obsessed with the pregnancy. But how would you feel if you
knew about such a big secret and the media then completely ignores it?
I believe it's very relevant, and that's why we will continue to blog about it.
I stopped here:
"Do you think that facts have a "lower value" just because bloggers have discovered them?"
Please, please, get the chip off your shoulder. I keep telling you that I'm not critical of you because you're a blogger. And you keep saying, hey, it's because I'm a blogger, right? There's no need to be so insecure.
No, I don't think much of the site because it's unable to distinguish fact from implication, or what's true from what "a lot of people in Alaska know to be true," etc.
Read all posts at Politicalgates about Sarah Palin's faked pregnancy with Trig - FOR THE COLLECTION, CLICK HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE,HERE AND HERE.