Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Smoking Gun

(UPDATE: April 8, 2009: Welcome any new readers who are joining us from a link on Gawker. Unfortunately, the author chose to link to this blog post which is now over seven months old, and quite outdated. Two days ago, another photo taken at the same time as the photo in this post was released on the Tyra Banks program. It had never been seen before. In it, Levi Johnston is holding Trig Palin. Please read that post by clicking here.

(Update: It has now been confirmed that this picture was taken in the Palin kitchen. The date is unknown.)

A photo exists that could be the single most problematic piece of evidence in this whole sad saga. Unlike some of the other information on this website, (photos of Gov. Palin at various times last spring, photos of Bristol Palin, news reports of the sequence of the birth) this photo has been entirely ignored by the mainstream. Even the Daily Kos posting (which has since been removed) which started much of the scrutiny, did not include mention of this photo.

This photo was originally posted to the MySpace page of a young woman who is known as either Mercede or Sadie Johnston who is the sister of Levi Johnston, who has been publicly recognized as the father of Bristol Palin's (current) pregnancy. In photos on Levi Johnston's myspace page the same girl is identified as his sister. I don't think that the girl's identity is in question.

The photo was published with the caption "Mommy Inlaw Trig and Myself." In it, Sadie / Mercede is holding a very young infant who is identified as "Trig" and in one other photo "TriggyBear." Is this verified to be Trig Palin? Again, there's no way without some sort of advanced analysis to prove it one way or another, but if it's NOT Trig, if the pictures are not real, then it would follow that they are hoaxes, or fakes.

And, in fact, that HAS been suggested about this photo, based on, among other things, the fact that this photo is sepia while all the other photos on the page are in color, including the ones obviously taken at the same time. And I agree, this is odd. I do not have anywhere near the photoshop skill to look at this photo and draw a conclusion as to whether it is fraudulent. To my eye, however, other than the fact that it is sepia, it looks real. The lighting is consistent, the shadowing is consistent, Sarah Palin's body seems perfectly proportional to and hidden behind the chair.

Let's think about the hoax issue. Why does one create a hoax, or a scam? In most cases, it's because the hoaxer wants something. One of the most famous scientific hoaxes of all time occurred in England early in the 20th century when someone faked some fossils that were supposed to be "missing links." The hoax (known as Piltdown Man) was finally revealed in the 1950s. To this day, no one knows who did it or why. It's been suggested that the hoaxer was so convinced that Darwin was correct that he faked fossils to prove it. Another possibility was that a man who owned a small local museum just wanted more customers. Whatever the truth, the bottom line is hoaxers want something: money, fame, recognition, who knows, but something. A hoax doesn't work if no one knows about it.

Now, back to our photo. These photos appear to have been posted on an obscure Alaskan teenager's MySpace page last spring, with no fanfair and no comment, months before Gov. Palin received anything but the most minimal national attention. This can be dated reliably as "prom photos" and other photos from the spring and summer were posted later. The photos remained untouched and unnoticed until this story broke two and a half weeks ago, at which point the page was either removed or "made private." (Sorry, I don't know enough about MySpace to really know exactly how that works.) So what's the agenda? You don't create a hoax or a scam and then just "hope" someone finds it... and then, when they do, try to cover it up! This makes no sense.

There are certainly a lot of things we do not know about this photo. Where was it taken, by whom, when? It has been suggested on one website that the location is a Birthing Room at Mat-Su Regional Center, the hospital where the birth occurred. It's impossible to say since the "Virtual Tour" of the Birthing Center on the Mat-Su Regional Hospital website has been mysteriously not working for the last two weeks. It looks like it might be a hospital room, but at this point I don't think that can be stated with confidence. I will also point out that the baby is NOT wearing any sort of hospital bracelet. I think anyone looking at the photo will agree however, that the baby is very young.

All these questions, however, pale in comparison to the biggie: Why is Governor Sarah Palin identified as "Mommy InLaw"? It's a simple question. And you know, it should be a simple answer. Sadie Johnston is a real person in a real town. She lives in a real house and she speaks English. Why can't we just ask her? Why can't someone just show her this picture, and ask: "Who took this picture? When? And why, pray tell, is Gov. Palin referred to as "mommy inlaw?""

But of course, that's not going to happen. The phone at the Johnston house has been disconnected. Reporters in their driveway have been ignored. No one's talking. What a surprise.


West Coast Grrlie Blather said...

Sadie refers to Trig as 'baby brother.' It makes sense to me that she would refer to her brother's baby as 'baby brother.' It doesn't make sense that she would refer to Sarah's baby as 'baby brother.' Others have said that she would refer to Sarah's baby as her 'baby brother' since Bristol is soon (or already) to become her sister-in-law. But I think it's a stretch.

Mary G. said...

If there is a Pulitzer Prize for Blogs, you should get it, Audrey. A few comments:
Although hospital privacy laws are stringent, they do not cover *falsified* documents!!! I just thought of this. How can it be a crime to expose a crime? How can someone be protected for creating a false hospital document?? Bring them on!
Second observation: the sepia picture is indeed stranger than I had first thought. The piece of furniture to the viewer's left is odd--between its front doors and back shelf, there appears to be an empty space--it is like that in the one other shot, with Willow (?) stooping next to Mercedes. Is it added? is it covering up a reclining Bristol? then again, a weird thing about the photo is that I initially thought, that does not look like Trig in the other early photos (maybe they are not so early), like for the Alaska News story, where he has a hat on. The angles of each shot are slightly different, but the room seems to change size due to that piece of furniture and/or elements left out.

Anonymous said...

As far as the sepia colored photo that seems unusual this photo is/ was also in color on the myspace page. I send Audrey a link via email to this. You can find it on the internet also. You can download a picture and change it very easily to a Black and White or a Sepia in most picture software. Also many digital cameras now you can take the picture in B&W or Sepia. Just pointing out the "sepia" is a non-issue.

Anonymous said...,8599,1837862,00.html

I've read (I think) almost all of your blog and website and have not seen a reference to this article from Time magazine, "In Wasilla, Pregancy Was no Secret" Sorry if you covered this already. thanks for all your work on this mystery.

deb said...

What nursing mother wears a sweatshirt? This picture looks to have been taken close to the time Trig left the hospital, since he's dressed. Even given the ease with which to take off the sweatshirt, or even just hike it up to nurse, it is cumbersome and as far as I know, avoided for more trendy and stylish attire for the task at hand.

Also, mid-April in Alaska seems an odd time to wear shorts, which the Governor seems to be sporting in this picture.

Did Mercede have hopes of marrying Track and that's why she calls the Governor "Mommy in law"?

Why she would refer to him as "baby brother" doesn't make sense in reference to anyone. Levi is her brother and therefore, if Trig is his, would be Sadie's nephew. If Trig is Sarah's and Sadie hopes to marry Track some day, "baby brother" COULD be her way of ingratiating herself into the family, but makes the back of my teeth hurt in the cutesey application.

But I am most confused at the sweatshirt.

Leslie Dicken said...

Friends who are photoshop experts are convinced that the image of Palin is not legit. Either it is someone else's body with her head, or the entire person is added.

But why add her? I'm not sure I get it.

I agree that Sadie referring to Trig as "baby brother" means it's her brother's child rather than her brother's girlfriend's brother.