Brad Scharlott, associate professor for journalism at Northern Kentucky University, continues to make his voice heard – this time in the mainstream, and, appropriately, in Alaska. The “Alaska Dispatch”, whose reporters made national headlines last year due to their highly effective reporting regarding Joe Miller, have published a comment by Prof. Scharlott, who raised serious doubts about Sarah Palin’s pregnancy with Trig in a bombshell research paper which entered the public domain yesterday.
In todays article for the “Alaska Dispatch”, Prof. Scharlott explains the background of his research paper (download the paper HERE), and he also talks about the furious reaction of Sarah Palin’s former spokesperson Bill McAllister which was delivered in an email dated April 5, 2011. Bill McAllister had received a copy of the research paper by Prof. Scharlott in advance, and in his immediate response McAllister clearly “lost it”, for example accusing Scharlott of being “in the service of evil”, announcing: “If we ever meet, I’ll slap you.”
One of the most important aspects of these recent events is that the “faked pregnancy rumors” are now finally hitting the mainstream, thanks to Prof. Scharlott’s initiative (and also thanks to the bizarre reaction of Bill McAllister). It seems more and more likely that it will now be possible to discuss Sarah Palin’s pregnancy with Trig openly, that the idea that the pregnancy was faked will not be treated as a “taboo subject” in the media any more.
By contrast, the idea that Palin may have staged a hoax concerning the birth of Trig has essentially become taboo in mainstream media, with only a few stories in the Anchorage Daily News treating the question in a serious way.
Eric Boehlert summarized the situation nicely last July when he wrote in Media Matters for America that “back in 2008, 99 percent of people in ‘the media’ did the right thing and ignored the Trig nonsense.” And Newspaper Index shows the same has been true since then.
Why the enormous difference in rumor coverage? In my paper, I suggest that the “spiral of silence” phenomenon came into play with the hoax rumor about Palin but not the one about Obama.
In a nutshell, a spiral of silence takes place when people perceive an idea they hold is outside of what most people seem to think and therefore censor themselves, to avoid disapproval or ridicule. And the more such people censor themselves, the more outside the mainstream the minority idea becomes, until the idea is virtually extinguished from the mainstream, at least as represented in the mass media.
A spiral of silence would seem to explain the virtual taboo in mainstream U.S. media relating to the Trig hoax rumor – even though many Americans privately question Palin’s birth story. Prominent British author Christopher Hitchens, writing from Washington, D.C, last year, observed in the Spectator, a British publication: “An astonishing number of well-informed people tell me that Sarah Palin is not in fact the mother of baby Trig, but that she is ‘covering up’ for another family member whose child he really is.”
By contrast, various factors – such as the aggressiveness of “truthers” and the helpfulness of conservative politicians in, say, proposing legislation relating to birth certificates – have kept the Obama rumor front and center in the nation’s media.
To make the case in my paper that the media should have paid more attention to the Trig hoax rumor, I pointed out that when the rumor first appeared in nationally prominent blog sites Palin offered no documentary evidence, such as a birth certificate, to prove her maternity.
Instead, she revealed to the world that Bristol was then pregnant, which was supposed to prove that Sarah must be Trig’s mother, given when Trig was reportedly born. But of course, if there had been a hoax, then Trig’s actual birth date is unknown.
So how could it have happened that the long-existing “rumors” that Sarah Palin faked a pregnancy were treated as a taboo-subject in the first place anyway? Prof. Scharlott examines this and other questions in great detail in his research paper, which he titled “Palin, the Press, and the Fake Pregnancy Rumor: Did a Spiral of Silence Shut Down the Story?”
I predict that it will not be long before only a few people will be able to remember that the subject of Palin’s faked pregnancy was once a “taboo” subject that virtually every journalist desperately tried to avoid. So far, it has been the task of bloggers to keep the public informed and to investigate the details of the pregnancy. But once the floodgates open this will quickly change and it will become a much discussed topic.
Once the subject is in the mainstream, Sarah Palin will have a hard time continuing with her now well-known “stonewalling” approach: Refusing to show concrete evidence and continuing to play the victim of the evil liberal media.
It’s also very appropriate that it’s an Alaskan publication which takes the “first step” in the mainstream, because the pregnancy issue originates from Alaska, and it should be resolved there.
The truth is that Sarah Palin is unable to present evidence for her pregnancy, for the simple reason that it did not happen – and many Alaskans know it, and it is my view that a number of Alaskans are also implicated in this scandal and have assisted her to execute the “hoax.”
Now we also have a “second story”: The mentally-unbalanced reaction in an email by Bill McAllister to Prof. Scharlott – and his subsequent vicious attempt to damage Prof. Scharlott’s reputation by sending his email to several of Scharlott’s colleagues at Northern Kentucky University. Apparently Bill McAllister still believes that he has “power” and can destroy careers. He couldn’t be more wrong.
This is Bill McAllisters full email to Prof. Scharlott again:
On Apr 5, 2011, at 2:57 PM, email@example.com wrote:
If we ever meet, I’ll slap you. In a different era, I’d challenge you to a duel.
Be advised: I am at home on my own computer. This is my final week at
the Alaska Department of Law. Nothing I have to say here is said on
behalf of the state, the attorney general or Sarah Palin, whom I have
not seen or heard from since she resigned.
The italicized word “coincidentally” in the following sentence makes
you a scoundrel:
“In the first photo, Palin is shown standing to the left of KTUU-TV
newsman Bill McAllister, who coincidentally would become her director
of communications in July. (The other person is KTVA-TV cameraman Dan
So let’s parse this. I was a journalist for 30 years. I took down a
conservative Republican congressman, Arlan Stangeland (7th District,
Minnesota), in 1990, because he used his House credit card to bill
phone calls to and from the home of his mistress. (Johnny Apple of the
New York Times followed up on the story.) In 1980, I took down the
police chief of Winona, Minnesota, over a variety of ethical lapses,
including the doctoring of a police report on an alleged sexual
assault by his son. I have won national, regional and state awards for
my reporting in both Alaska and Minnesota for television, radio and
newspapers. I co-chaired the annual conference of Capitolbeat, the
Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, in Seattle in 2005. I
was elected four times (the most ever) as the president of the Alaska
Capital Correspondents Association.
And I threw it all away to hide Sarah Palin’s pregnancy hoax?
You are despicable.
I wasn’t there when Palin was impregnated nor when she gave birth, so
I have no eyewitness accounts to offer. I can tell you that I never
even heard of the fake pregnancy rumor until the VP selection. Let me
repeat that: As the most connected politics reporter in the state for
years, I NEVER EVEN HEARD OF IT!!!!
Your suggestion that I was bought off to perpetuate a scam on the
American people is reprehensible. Be sure — and be glad — that we
will never meet. I have far more honor than you, scumbag. I have lived
an imperfect but honest life. You are in the service of evil.
Prof. Scharlott has commented on McAllister’s email in an article at the Alaska Dispatch. The Dispatch have also given McAllister a chance to respond and published his op-ed together with Prof Scharlott’s article. That seems fair enough. However, the gist of his reply is that he, McAllister, will continue to resort to insults of a nasty and derogatory manner whilst defending himself, a cancer survivor, against any insinuations (real or imagined) that he is a liar.
Associate professor Scharlott — whose name aptly combines “charlatan” and “harlot,” both phonetically and symbolically — compares himself to an investigative reporter but demonstrates none of the tenets of responsible journalism.
For example, he “buried the lead.” You have to read several paragraphs into his diatribe before you discover that the reason for my response to him was not the seemingly ludicrous premise of his “paper” — that Trig Palin is not really his mother’s child — but his cavalier attempt to draw me into a controversy that doesn’t concern me except in the most tangential way.
On Saturday morning, Sept. 12, 2009, I narrowly escaped death due to complications from a cancer that had been diagnosed 11 months previously. I have an incurable condition that, thankfully, is at the moment under control. But I do not know if I will get to live a normal lifespan for an American man of my generation.
It is in this context that I have adopted a “zero tolerance” policy for lies about my character. The charlatan associate professor suggests that I should have responded to his completely unsubstantiated innuendo with some helpful comment or diplomatic riposte.
No chance. At this stage of life, I’m not going to sit still when anyone alleges that I was part of an unprecedented hoax perpetrated on the American people. That’s calling me a liar. That’s calling me a conspirator. That basically says that a record of 30 years of quality journalism should be chucked into the trash because of a fleeting association with Sarah Palin.
The harlot takes at face value and very seriously my comments about slapping and a duel. That’s fine. I just think it would be incumbent upon him, then, to take every other part of my email just as seriously: That he has no reason and no proof to cast aspersions on me in regard to the Trig controversy. That to treat me as collateral damage for his ideologically inspired slash-and-burn campaign against Sarah Palin is immoral.
In classic Palin-style, McAllister plays the victim and answers not one of the many factual questions which Prof. Scharlott raises in his research paper and his article. Instead, he resorts to ugly name-calling, also one of Sarah Palin’s preferred tactics (who learned from who here?) and he suggests that anyone questioning Palin’s pregnancy should automatically treated as a liar.
“Todd: Don’t tell (Bristol) but rumor around the capitol is that she’s pregnant. People are so mean. I’m going to nicely pull McAllister (KTUU political reporter and soon to be Palin spokesperson) aside and tell him that’s not true.”
Funny people maybe speculated I’m not really pg, but she is and I’m taking the heat for her! Funny, but pathetic.
Professor Scharlott further writes in the article at the Alaska Dispatch:
Indeed, during the previous spring, reporters for the Anchorage Daily News variously wrote that Palin “simply does not look pregnant” (at seven months) and that she “did not get big with this pregnancy” (after she reportedly gave birth). Published pictures from the spring support the reporters’ observations.
One of those two mystery photos, taken on April 13, shows Palin being interviewed by a TV reporter. The other picture shows her standing next to TV newsman Bill McAllister, who, I wrote in my paper, “coincidentally would become her director of communications three months later.” (In early April, a Daily News columnist wrote that McAllister was preparing to leave KTUU, and bloggers later wondered if he had been negotiating a job with the Palin administration while still covering it.)
The fact that I italicized “coincidentally” is what sparked McAllister’s seeming outrage.
He wrote: “The italicized word ‘coincidentally’ … makes you a scoundrel …”
And he continued: “I can tell you that I never even heard of the fake pregnancy rumor until the VP selection. Let me repeat that: As the most connected politics reporter in the state for years, I NEVER EVEN HEARD OF IT!!!!”
However, on August 31, the day McCain selected Palin, Anchorage Daily News reporter Kyle Hopkins wrote that the fake pregnancy rumor was “long simmering in Alaska.”
Prof. Scharlott comments in the article and his research paper about the “famous” two pictures which were uploaded as the only pictures ever on August 31, 2008 to the anonymous “erik99559” youtube account.
This flickr-account was quietly deleted in spring 2009, but I had taken screenshots before it was deleted (click on pictures to enlarge):
In his response at the Alaska Dispatch, Bill McAllister doesn’t answer any of the questions which still surround these pictures – for example who took them.
In an interview with right-wing Alaskan radio talk-show Eddie Burke from January 9, 2009, Bill McAllister, back then still Sarah Palin’s spokesperson, talked about the fake pregnancy allegations and tried to explain why Sarah Palin doesn’t need to provide any evidence for her pregnancy. The interview is very enlightening also because McAllister describes in some detail how the reporters from the Anchorage Daily News tried to investigate the fake pregnancy allegations at the end of 2008 – which resulted in the famous “story that never appeared.” Well, I guess the ADN-reporters might get a “second shot” now!
Click HERE to read all posts at Politicalgates about Sarah Palin’s faked pregnancy.