Sunday, April 17, 2011

Shame.On.You. - Julia O'Malley and Anchorage Daily News

By Patrick

The strange battle by some parts of the Alaska media to desperately keep "Babygate", Sarah Palin's faked pregnancy, out of the headlines, has reached a new low. Julia O'Malley, reporter for the "Anchorage Daily News" (ADN), wrote a piece called "Make.It.Stop." (not online any more, preserved through the "Wayback Machine"), in which she discusses Prof. Brad Scharlott's research paper which examines the questions surrounding Sarah Palin's pregnancy with Trig and the role of the media in examining those questions. O'Malley tries to argue that any attempt to prove this "roundly debunked conspiracy theory" will be futile, and that people like Prof. Scharlott resort to "fantasy."

I read Scharlott's piece. It contains lots of innuendo and some widely-circulated Photoshopped pictures. What is missing from his investigation: facts.

One of my favorite passages is about a picture where Palin appears pregnant. Scharlott presents the original image, and then one with changes to the light balance. She still looks pregnant in the second picture. But he writes "Palin appears to be wearing some sort of pad strapped around her midsection; her lower belly, where a fetus would normally reside, seems flat" This is total fantasy.

But who needs facts? When you don't have the goods to support your ideas, just start bashing the media for not digging them up. (Sarah Palin does this all the time.) Scharlott goes on about how the media didn't do a good job debunking the rumor. It was, he concludes, "a spiral of silence."

But, of course, there was no silence spiral. The journalists, including me, who covered Palin at the time believed she was pregnant because she was pregnant. Even before the announcement, she seemed to be putting on weight. She wore baggy jackets and scarves. Before the announcement, she acted nervous when photographers tried to take her picture. Later on, her face filled out. Her fingers swelled. She had a noticeable belly. And it wasn't made out of foam.

"A trim woman simply can’t hide a fetus in her seventh month of pregnancy, and Palin in no way looks four and a half weeks away from giving birth to a 6 pound baby," Sharlott writes. Actually, women carry babies all kinds of different ways. Some women gain less than 20 pounds. Has this man never seen "I didn't know I was pregnant" on TLC?

Palin also ran all the time at the gym in Juneau. People I know saw her on the treadmill sweating in workout clothes. She had a belly. I repeat: she had a real pregnant belly. Are you going to tell me she was wearing a prosthetic abdomen on the treadmill?

After the birth, we interviewed her doctor who talked about it. Why would the doctor lie for her? That's right. She wouldn't.

However, the only person who resorts to fantasy is Julia O'Malley.

So she pulled some unnamed people out of the hat for the first time ever who saw Sarah Palin with a "real pregnant belly." Astonishing! Who are these people? And why are there no pictures from that time showing Governor Sarah with a "real pregnant belly?"

O'Malley claims that Palin "acted nervous" when somebody tried to take her picture, even before the announcement. Also, her "face filled out" and her "fingers swelled." Really?

Fortunately, there is a lot of material available to make a "fact-check."

In late February 2008, a team from "alaskahdtv" filmed and interviewed Sarah Palin when she walked to her office, in high heels, apparently not afraid of the snow, sipping coffee.

This clip was already the subject of extensive discussions in the past on the blogs which were investigating babygate (for example here and here).

Watch for yourself how the supposedly shy and highly pregnant Sarah, who hadn't announced her pregnancy at this point and would officially give birth to a six-pound baby just about 2 months later, masters the icy conditions and at the same time chats to the reporters. Don't forget to spot the "swollen hands", her "nervous acting" and her "real pregnant belly":

Sarah Palin - Hiking in Juneau - late February...

Did you spot it...?

Well, just several days later, on March 3, 2008, the highly pregnant Sarah Palin was interviewed by Newsweek's Karen Breslau. Surely it will now be obvious that Sarah is highly pregnant. After all, she will give birth just six-weeks after this interview. So this clip should prove that the "Trig Truthers" love to indulge in fantasies, right?

Have you spotted the highly pregnant Sarah Palin yet..?

There is more!

Israeli filmmaker Elan Frank had the opportunity to exclusively film Sarah Palin on April 8 and April 9, 2008. Just ten days later, Trig was presented at Mat-Su Regional Hospitel in Palmer/Wasilla, born at 6.30 am on April 18, 2008, according to the official story.

What he captured was interesting indeed. Again, the footage had been discussed previously on several blogs, for example in my post at Palingates on October 11, 2009. Surely we can now prove beyond doubt that Palin was pregnant, right? Well, one should think so, but look for example how Sarah raises up from her chair in the following clip at the 2:20 mark:

Fox News bought Elan Frank's footage and used it in their documentary "An American Women." The following clip contains the complete available pieces of Elan Frank's footage which he shot on April 8 and April 9, 2008 in Juneau. I presented this clip in a post at Palingates on August 5, 2010:

Although it's also mentioned in the clips that the footage was taken several days before Palin "gave birth" to Trig, we also know from her official schedule, which was obtained through a FOIA request, when Elan Frank was filming with Sarah Palin in Juneau.

The drumbeats on her belly are priceless. Poor Trig, I hope he was wearing earplugs. But fortunately, he wasn't there, so we don't have to worry. ;-)

One claim in Julia O'Malley's article in particular made me feel outraged: Her assertion that Prof. Bradford Scharlott used "widely-circulated photoshopped pictures." This is not funny any more. The ADN has overstepped the mark here and published a deliberate lie. Unless the ADN publishes a correction, this paper simply cannot be taken seriously any more. In this instance, the ADN has turned into a "spin-machine", risking their reputation as a serious news source.

Prof. Scharlott's paper used 4 different pictures: Two of them were the famous "Gusty-pictures" which were taken on April 13, 2008. He also explained the history of these pictures in great detail and showed how they were used to "kill" the faked pregnancy rumors after they were uploaded anonymously to flickr on August 31, 2008 (see the screenshots in our previous post). Andrea Gusty also "defended" the pictures in a news report on KTVA in spring 2009, after the pictures had been discussed and critically examined on the "babygate" blogs.

Let's take a close look at the remaining two pictures. As the Gusty pictures weren't photoshopped, the others in Prof. Scharlott's paper must have been, according to Julia O'Malley. Right?

These two pictures were:

1. A picture taken in Juneau on March 14, 2008.

2. A picture taken in Juneau on March 26, 2008.

When these pictures were taken, Sarah Palin, a small, slender woman, was supposed to have a baby in her belly which must have weight at around 5 pounds, as Trig was presented on April 18, 2008 with an official birthweight of 6 pounds 2 ounces.

But were the pictures "photoshopped?" Has Julia O'Malley proven that the "Trig Truthers" deal with "tainted" material?

Let's take a look at the first picture - this one (click on pictures and screenshots to enlarge):

Yes, Palin let's pretty slim. She has a tight stomach as well. A baby weighing around five pounds is pretty difficult to spot indeed.

But was the picture really taken on March 14, 2008? And was it photoshopped?

Julia O'Malley should have taken a look at an "impeccable" source: The ADN!

Guess what they published - here and here:

OH NO (screaming with a "Jon Stewart voice")! NO, IT CANNOT BE! That is the same picture! In the ADN! Dated March 14, 2008! Julia, how is this possible?

See also the excellent examination of this photo by our friend Deborah Newell Tornello ("litbrit") in a post from July 2010.

Well, no "photoshopping" here, and the date was correct was well.

So, Julia, you have one last chance! What about the picture which was supposedly taken on March 26, 2008?

Julia, I have to tell you a secret: My partner and co-blogger Kathleen found this picture at the end of November 2008 by coincidence on flickr, where it had been uploaded by another user on April 15, 2008. You can be assured that we documented everything properly, as we realized immediately that this picture is pure dynamite, for the simple reason that Sarah had been careless and had forgotten to wear one of her famous scarves on this fateful day.

We are talking about this picture (screenshot from Prof. Scharlott's paper):

So here we go:

This picture was taken on March 26, 2008, in the Alaska State Museum in Juneau where Palin signed Bill HB 259. Here is a news report from this event:

Here is a screenshot of Sarah Palin's official diary from that day, which was obtained through a FOIA request:

Here is a screenshot from a news report about this event in the "Juneau Empire", which is still available as a cached copy on google:

The picture links to this story:

The "wayback Machine" also saved the official press release of the Governor's office for this event at the Alaska State Museum which took place on March 26, 2008.

The picture with Palin's flat belly was upload to flickr on April 15, 2008, three days before Trig was officially born, by the user "surfdaf". It's not the only picture she uploaded from this event. There were several others as well.

Here are the original screenshots from flickr:

I even made PDF-hardcopies of the flickr-pages on November 30, 2008. You can access the PDF-document with the "Nail in the coffin" picture HERE.

The original, unaltered picture in full size, just as it was uploaded to flickr by "surdaf" on April 15, 2008, can be accessed HERE.

But now comes the "kicker": While "surfdaf" made the famous "Nail in the coffin" picture private shortly after it was discovered, the other pictures are still online, "embedded" in a huge batch of other pictures from Alaska which were also uploaded to flickr on April 15, 2008!

Julia, I do hope that this is enough documentation for you.

Let's take a good look at Sarah Palin's belly:

Julia, where is the baby, weighing approximately five pounds? I am unable to spot it, can you?

As we have now settled this issue and proven that there was no photoshopping involved, let me move on to another point:

But, of course, there was no silence spiral. The journalists, including me, who covered Palin at the time believed she was pregnant because she was pregnant.

Well, why did the ADN then feel the need to examine Sarah Palin's pregnancy in the first place, if everything was so clear-cut?

In my very first post at Palingates from September 14, 2009, I wrote:

Pat Dougherty complained publicly in his editors’ blog that this investigation by the ADN, which was apparently designed to “exonerate” Sarah Palin, curiously received no support from Sarah Palin whatsoever.

And as a result, he decided to drop the story and decided not to report ANYTHING.

Pat Dougherty wrote about these issues in his editors’ blog for example here:

Is this what highly paid journalists in such cases are supposed to do? Sit in their offices and wait for the “evidence” to walk through their door?

I think not.

Several days ago I shot off an “angry letter” to Pat Dougherty, complaining about the lack of coverage. I also asked him whether the rumor was true that Sarah Palin apparently threatened to sue the ADN. I also mentioned the MTV video and Michael Carey’s interview from September 2008.

This is the response I received from Pat Dougherty:


What exactly is the evidence? Not what you think you see in a video, but evidence. Not what somebody told somebody who told you, but evidence. If we had the evidence, we'd report the story, but we don't have it. As far as I can tell, neither do you. Just for your information, rumors are often presented as facts; that doesn't actually make them facts. What makes a rumor a fact is verification with evidence.

And no, nobody threatened to sue us to stop a story that never existed. You should know, though, that people regularly threaten to sue us and that doesn't scare us or stop us. It's just another day at the office. Why? Because if they sue us and we can back up what we say with evidence, we win and they lose.


Screenshot of the email:

So, excuse me, Julia, but it sounds to me that Pat Dougherty, your boss, wasn't actually completely convinced that Sarah Palin really give birth to Trig, but that he couldn't publish anything different in your paper simply because of lack of evidence.

Curious, is it not? What made him think that? Was it because the fact that Sarah Palin faked her pregnancy had apparently already been a hot topic of discussion in the ADN-newsroom prior to Sarah Palin's nomination for the vice-presidency?

For example, ADN-veteran Michael Carey explained on September 2, 2008:

One last point, Julia:

In September 2009, I reported at Palingates about a surprising discovery of our fantastic research team - that the ADN, being notoriously short on money these days, had one major, well-paying customer: The State of Alaska.

The State of Alaska makes no secret of its expenses. Therefore, according to the golden rule “follow the money”, we thought it would do no harm to check whether the ADN might be in a “mutually beneficial relationship” with the people they are supposed to have a “watchful eye” on – the administration and government of the State of Alaska.

The result of our research astounded us.

For example, between July 1, 2007 and August 31, 2008, the ADN received the following payments from the State of Alaska:

a. $ 427,386 for “Advertising”

b. $ 250,768 for “Print/Copy/Graphics”

c. $ 2,932 for “Subscriptions”

In total, the ADN received more than $ 681,086 for “Advertising, Print/Copy/Graphics and Subscriptions” from the State of Alaska during this period, and the Governor’s office alone advertised with the ADN for the amount of $35,339.

This is certainly not pocket money that we are talking about here.

Can't it be argued that the freedom of the ADN to report about inconvenient facts like a faked pregnancy of a former Republican Governor is actually quite limited because of this obvious dependency on state contracts, especially given the fact that Sarah Palin reminded Pat Dougherty in their email conversation from early 2009 about this point:

Sarah Palin:

Thank you for your patience in awaiting my response. I do hope for nothing but the best for our local newspaper in these trying economic times that have hit your parent company.

Pat Dougherty in return gave a curious response to this remark:

Pat Dougherty:

As you suggest, these are tough times for newspapers. Having a bunch of conspiracy nuts denouncing the Daily News for hiding your secret just adds to the overall happy ambience.

Julia, what do you think about all this?


Summary document about Sarah Palin's faked pregnancy:

In 2010, I worked on a summary about the facts surrounding Sarah Palin's faked pregnancy, and made several versions of that summary available for download at Palingates. The last version is from September 5, 2010 (click here to download). This version is not up-to-date any more, as several links have stopped to work and many more new facts have to be added. However, I haven't found the time yet to update it. The document still serves as a useful introduction to "babygate."


Prof. Bradford Scharlott gave an excellent interview to the radio-station KSLG on April 15, 2011. I uploaded the interview to youtube for easier access:



"Babygate" has been covered in much more detail in previous posts. Far more pictures and other documentation exists. You can find all this information here:

Read all posts at Politicalgates about Sarah Palin's faked pregnancy with Trig - FOR THE COLLECTION, CLICK HEREHEREHEREHEREHEREHEREHEREHERE AND HERE.

Read the old post at Palingates about the faked pregnancy with the pictures still intact HERE.

We break the "Spiral of Silence" - Read the details about the "biggest hoax in American political history!"

In addition, please don't hesitate to watch the excellent video-documentaries about "babygate" which our reader Lidia17 created - HERE, HERE and HERE.

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