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Spiral of Stupid: The Trig-Truther Paper by Dr. Brad Scharlott (Updated with Response)

John on April 14, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Today, I’m wading into the fever-swamp of leftist political paranoia so you don’t have to. A professor from Kentucky issued a report this week in which he claims that Sarah Palin really may not be Trig’s mother:

One cannot find mainstream media reports that try to make sense of the strange facts surrounding the birth of Trig. Therefore, I felt the need to lay out the facts in order to make the case that Palin may have staged a hoax.

In case you’ve forgotten the whole argument (or never heard it), let me just get you up to speed on the issue. Soon after Palin became a national figure in 2008, liberal websites began rumors that her fifth child, Trig Palin, was actually the son of her daughter Bristol. Palin had deceived the world by faking a pregnancy to cover for her teenage child.

The fatal flaw with this theory is that back on September 1, 2008 Bristol Palin was announced to be five months pregnant with a baby who would eventually be known as Tripp Palin. Tripp was born December 28th. Even liberal bloggers noticed that it would be difficult for any woman to give birth to Trig on April 18th and then give birth again on December 28th. How does Dr. Brad Scharlott explain this problem away:

The validity of the logic that Bristol could not have been Trig’s mother depended on two unsupported suppositions – first, that Bristol was indeed five months pregnant at the convention,and second, that Trig was in fact born on April 18. Concerning Trig’s date of birth, the Mat-Su hospital will not confirm whether Trig was born there, let alone when. (Blogger Andrew Sullivan called the hospital and was told there would be no comment regarding Trig Palin.) And no evidence was offered concerning Bristol’s stage of pregnancy. Thus, if Trig was born, say, in January, and if Bristol was only four months pregnant at the convention, not five as alleged, then the logic of the argument that she could not be Trig’s mother falls apart.

So there are two “unsupported suppositions” at work here. Let’s look at those. First, was Bristol really five months pregnant in September 2008? Well, we know she gave birth on December 28th to a health baby which many press outlets reported weighed over 7 lbs. Babies this size are not born at six or seven months of pregnancy, only at term or very close to term.

Even if we generously assume Bristol gave birth at 8 months, that means she got pregnant sometime in April 2008, probably within a week of the date of Trig’s birth. Doctors usually advise six weeks after birth before engaging in sex, but even if you cut that to three weeks (ouch!) the time line doesn’t work unless…we can also move Trig’s birth.

So what about the other supposition, i.e. that Trig was born in January and not in April as we were all led to believe. Well, here’s the problem with that. There are pictures of Sarah Palin’s parents, the Heaths, holding Trig at the hospital on April 18th:

Question: Does that look like a 3 month old baby to you? Have a closer look:

So either this newborn infant is really 2-3 months old or this isn’t really Trig. And yet, it does look a lot like Trig Palin.

Dr. Scharlott is right that his entire conspiracy theory rests on these two dates, yet he never really explains where the Palin’s parents picked up this mystery newborn just in time to fool the local media in April or, alternatively, where they hid him for several months before revealing him on the 18th. (Not to mention how they made a 3 month old pass for a newborn.)

There’s a lot more silliness in this paper. Dr. Scharlott suggests that photos showing a pregnant Sarah Palin five days before Trig’s birth are suspicious, saying “These pictures show Palin looking far more pregnant than any others.”

Really? So what about this video of Palin at the Texas RGA conference one day before Trig’s birth (click screenshot for video):

Sure looks like she’s resting her hands on her belly to me. Watch the video.

So what this boils down to is a dismissal of all the evidence showing Palin was pregnant, plus a dismissal of the evidence showing Trig was born in mid-April, all so that Palin could protect the honor of the very same daughter she announced was an unmarried teen five months later. Sounds utterly absurd to me, but for Dr. Scharlott it all adds up to one obvious conclusion:

While none of that proves she is not Trig’s mother, I would argue that those facts, plus a host of others recounted above, make it unlikely she truly is.

But Dr. Scharlott’s argument is really not about Trig Palin, it’s about the media. All of his conspiracy theorizing is just a pretense for him to claim that the media was unduly respectful of Sarah Palin and, by contrast, too harsh to Barack Obama. This proves that conservatives have a secret weapon, the cone spiral of silence:

The alleged Obama and Palin hoaxes are not perfectly comparable, but they are roughly so. As the current president, Barack Obama receives more media attention than any other politician in the United States. But since August 2008, Palin must surely be the second-most reported on politician in the country. Her book tours, reality show, provocative comments in social media, and role as a commentator on Fox have kept her in the limelight. So one could not say the lack of coverage of the Trig rumor derives from a lack of interest in Palin herself. What can explain the extraordinary difference in the coverage of the two alleged hoaxes? A key factor, perhaps, is that a“spiral of silence” may have kicked in with regard to Palin’s fake birth rumor but not Obama’s alleged fake birth certificate…

Michelle Malkin said in a blog post that people who question whether Palin gave birth to Trig are “tinfoil hat-wearers” who must be “unhinged.” What prompted that post from her was a well-reasoned column by Andrew Sullivan the day before asking for proof relating to Trig’s birth. Did Malkin seriously believe Sullivan was unhinged? Of course not. (A brilliant writer, Sullivan has a doctorate from Harvard.) However, her post was meant to marginalize Sullivan in the eyes of others, and perhaps to let others know they would face similar slurs if they followed in Sullivan’s footsteps.

Got all that? Bristol is Trig’s real mom but people don’t know it because they’re afraid of Michelle Malkin. You really couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried. It’s such a pathetic stretch in every imaginable way that it’s difficult to believe this man has a job, much less a doctorate. Welcome to liberal academia where anything goes as long as it targets the right.

Update: I emailed Dr. Scharlott a link to this post and asked for his response. Here’s what he had to say:

I need to be clearer – I am not proposing that it was Bristol – I am saying we can’t eliminate her based on what we know. I truly have no idea nor any compelling theory as to who the mother of Trig is. What is strange about Bristol’s pregnancy is how McAllister was jerking the press around concerning when and where Tripp was born. What was that all about?

This strikes me as a very unconvincing dodge. His paper mentions Bristol 24 times, including in the very first sentence, as the likely mother. It’s a bit late to say he’s not suggesting this is Bristol’s baby.

As for not being able to rule Bristol out…I think I’ve just shown that we can absolutely do that. Photos show newborn Trig in the hospital on April 18th. There is no way, realistically, that Bristol could have gotten pregnant again and had another child December 28th. The time line rules Bristol out. Dr. Scharlott knows this which is why his paper suggests Trig might have been born in January. But the photos say otherwise.

If Dr. Scharlott responds to these points, I’ll add that here.

Update 2: And here’s his second and probably final response:

I was quoting MM in 1st sentence – that is what they said.

I am going to revise paper and explicitly say I am not pushing her as the mother. I don’t know who is.

If there was a hoax, ANYTHING is possible.

And I am sorry, but I am not going to debate this with you further. I am searching for the truth, OK?

Response: The first sentence of his article contains no quotation marks. He is relating the conspiracy theory through the lens of Media Matters’ take on it. He goes on to mention Bristol another 23 times. I’m glad he’s revising the paper, but if Bristol isn’t the mother, who is?

And of course line three is a classic among conspiracy theorists: “ANYTHING is possible.” Really? So maybe Todd had the baby?

As I said in my reply to him, if Dr. Scharlott were really searching for the truth, he would go further than saying he isn’t pushing Bristol as the mother. He would admit that Bristol cannot be the mother and then he would offer a substitute explanation that explains away the photos of Trig’s birth and the video and photos of a very pregnant Sarah Palin. I guess we’ll see what he comes up with in version 2.0.

Addendum: Also sick of this nonsense, RS McCain.

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