First, this post has been greatly delayed as I struggled – with the assistance of the researchers who compiled all of this material for me – concerning the issue of just how much material to post – and how to present it.
Ultimately, we have made the decision not to release nearly as much information on the blog as we had originally intended. Instead, we will be posting much longer – and more detailed information – on the website proper.
We've ultimately made the following decision that both for this blog post and for the web posting of more extensive data, only Bristol Palin, Levi Johnston, and Mercede Johnston will be identified by name. (The names of all other MySpace teens (regardless of age) have been changed to completely random "fake" names). Bristol, Levi, and Mercede have voluntarily spoken to the press; thus they are now considered "fair game." There is considerable evidence that Bristol has made misleading statements to the press on more than one occasion, if not outright lied.
At this time, I plan on doing three posts concerning the MySpace material: this one, a second which discusses an overview, and a third which considers explicitly whether or not Bristol was pregnant at the time she was announced to have been pregnant (i.e., roughly early April to late December 2008.)
Is Bristol Palin Trig’s mother? This is a question which, frankly, we preferred to avoid as much as possible for months, instead focusing on the discrepancies in Sarah Palin’s implausible tale. The rumors and reports that Bristol Palin was pregnant originated well before she could possibly have been pregnant with Tripp. This is beyond dispute. If Tripp Palin was born the last week in December, 2008, Bristol would have become pregnant around the first week in April 2008. Yet Sue Williams, a Wasilla caterer who spoke to the press within hours of Palin's nomination as VP (and who is NOT a Palin supporter) claimed that Willow's eighth grade boyfriend was telling people in Wasilla early in April, prior to Trig's birth on April 18th, that Bristol was pregnant. So positive was Ms. Williams of her information that she insisted late in August that Bristol was well into her third trimester and due "soon." Sarah discussed (and denied) rumors that Bristol was pregnant with Bill McAllister (at the time a news reporter, though later he became her press secretary) at some point before she announced her own pregnancy on March 5th. In one of my earlier posts, these reports of pregnancy rumors and of her unexplained absence from school were detailed in depth. There has also been much discussion on the blog about Bristol’s absence from any events from late fall until spring, with the possible (and as yet unconfirmed) exception of an event for the American Heart Association on February 15, 2008.
The MySpace material in many cases raises as many questions as it answers. On this blog, I have tried to avoid including information that, while shocking, has no bearing on the central question of who Trig's mother is or the general credibility of the Palin family. We plan on releasing far more of the MySpace material soon on the website itself, largely in a "raw" format. Readers will be free to peruse the information and draw their own conclusions.
One of the first questions that will be asked is how we verified who any of these people are. How can we be sure? For those who are not familiar with how MySpace works, I will give a brief overview. There are two kinds of information that are available on MySpace. The first is material on pages that are public. Public means exactly that. Anyone can see and peruse the entire page. We can see photos, music choices, quotes, and other information he or she has posted identifying him or herself. For those who have never been on MySpace, someone's "front page" on MySpace is a bit like a scrapbook page that is public, created for everyone to look at.
There is no requirement on MySpace that a person use his or her real name. Often people do, but equally often they do not. When a young person posts a picture of himself and says, "My name is Joe Smith and I go to Such and So High School," it is usually easy to verify that that person is who he say he is. Sometimes, of course, the person does not use a real name, though quite often they do identify themselves accurately as to town and school, so there is an additional step that must be taken, (based on photos and friend connections) to identify that "Hot Sue" for example, is Susan Jones. In our case, for example, Mercede Johnston's MySpace handle is "Sadie."
The second way to get information about people is that we can see comments ON public pages FROM the person, even if that person's page itself is private or in some cases deleted from MySpace completely. In this case, it is often very difficult to be sure of what some comments mean, because we are only seeing half of the comments, like hearing half of a phone conversation. Sometimes you can get a very good idea of what the conversation is about; other times, you are lost.
Bristol Palin's page was deleted (or possibly made private, then later deleted) prior to her mother's pick as VP, though we do not know when. In fact, after June 2007, there is only one comment that we can find on anyone's page that mentions Bristol by name, though there are several comments that use her initials that we are sure refer to her. This is very odd, since Bristol was a popular girl who had many friends. Furthermore, according to the McCain campaign and media reports it was common knowledge that Levi and Bristol were expecting a baby in late 2008. Did this warrant a comment on NO ONE'S page? Not one person thought to mention it? Or – more likely – were comments "scrubbed" at some point? Scrubbing is very difficult to prove after the fact, unless one is watching for it prior to the scrubbing occurring. For example, we know comments that had been visible on some of the Wasilla friends' pages through November 2008, were removed in November, after the election. We can prove this easily because we have screen shots of the pages both before and after. But since no one was watching the pages of Wasilla Alaska teenagers prior to late August, 2008, the full story is very difficult to piece together. However, one oddity we noted: one young woman, a close friend of Bristol's, who we will refer to as "Fanny" normally received dozens of comments a month. Suddenly, in a period of more than a month in the Spring of 2007, absolutely none. We can verify Fanny was active on MySpace – she was leaving comments on other friends' pages but her page was scrubbed completely. Proof of anything? No. Mysterious? Very.
So, how do we know what (few) comments remain are actually from Bristol Palin? We can see that the comments come from someone named "Bristol," but how do we know for sure who this is? We can be sure it's Bristol Palin, for the following reason: comments that were made by this Bristol can be indisputably tied to known events in Bristol Palin's life, as follows:
1. On October 12th, 2006, Bristol commented on a friend's page that she would be driving in four days. This corresponds exactly to Bristol Palin's sixteenth birthday.
2. In June of 2007, Bristol made several references to working at Nordstrom's. From Sarah Palin's financial disclosure forms, we know that Bristol Palin worked at Nordstrom's at that time.
3. On one occasion, Bristol makes very negative comments about having to attend an event in Glenallen Alaska. We know from Sarah Palin's schedule that an event, which included the "First Family" occurred on that day.
Does the MySpace page material answer with any certainty whether Bristol Palin gave birth to Trig OR whether Sarah did not? No, it does not. But it gives clear glimpses into the Palin family life, and specifically into Bristol Palin, that are sharply at odds with the all American family that was portrayed to the media. This is particularly relevant coming now, as Levi Johnston has purportedly told Tyra Banks (in an interview to be shown tomorrow) that he was allowed to spend the night openly at the Palin home, even though, according to him, Gov. Palin almost certainly knew that he and Bristol were having sex. I believe that, in spite of Palin's heated denials, this is confirmed from her daughter's own MySpace comments. At one point, she jokes with Levi that he apparently left some clothes at her home.
The view of teen life in Wasilla Alaska gleaned from the fifty or so MySpace pages that our researchers have followed diligently shows a sad, disappointing, in fact, very upsetting tale. If these are the family values that the McCain campaign hoped Gov. Palin would bring to America, all I can say is "no thanks." Drug and alcohol use is detailed, even boasted about regularly, by teens as young as fourteen and fifteen. Young women who are no more than fifteen discuss who is f***ing whom with the ease of a discussion about who will pick up the pizza. Bristol Palin, presented to the country by her mother as an honor student, at age 16 does not spell the word "decided" correctly.
Coming tomorrow: Six specific things the MySpace analysis shows us.
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