Julia O'Malley

Julia O'Malley writes a general interest column about life and politics in Anchorage and around Alaska. She grew up in Anchorage and has worked at the ADN on and off as a columnist and reporter since 1996. She came back full time as a reporter in 2005.

As a reporter, she covered the court system and wrote extensively about life in Anchorage, including big changes in the city's ethnic and minority communities.

In 2008, she won the Scripps-Howard Foundation's Ernie Pyle award for the best human-interest writing in America. She has also written for the Oregonian, the Juneau Empire and the Anchorage Press.

E-mail her at jomalley@adn.com.

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Make. It. Stop.

Palin, pregnant, 2008: Here is Sarah Palin, obviously pregnant, in March 2008. A photo of her before the pregnancy is at the bottom of this post. (Copyright: Brian Wallace. Not to be distributed or reproduced in print, online or on television without permission)Palin, pregnant, 2008: Here is Sarah Palin, obviously pregnant, in March 2008. A photo of her before the pregnancy is at the bottom of this post. (Copyright: Brian Wallace. Not to be distributed or reproduced in print, online or on television without permission)

Just when the Trig-Isn't-Really-Sarah-Palin's-Baby emails with the capital letters and exclamation points finally stopped showing up, a journalism professor in Kentucky is making the rounds with his "academic paper," trying to prove the roundly debunked conspiracy theory (that haunted most journalists in this state for years) is actually real.

Please, someone, make it stop.

Author Joe McGinniss, who has a forthcoming book about Palin, is not making it stop. He has been gleefully tweeting about it all week. He must know it's bunk, but the buzz will help him cash in.

I woke this morning to friends' emails from across the country containing this link on Gawker entitled "Did Sarah Palin Carry Out the Biggest Hoax in American Political History?" It was one of a dozen posts on the topic that seem to keep multiplying every time I google.

Here's a snippet so you get the idea:

"Professor Bradford Scharlott of Northern Kentucky University has looked into this story in detail and written a long academic article about it. He concludes two things: First, that the "conspiracy theory" is likely true—Sarah Palin staged a huge hoax, and, second, the American media is pathetic for not pursuing the story more aggressively."

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.

Other "evidence" in Scharlott's piece: the hospital didn't announce the birth of the baby. He didn't mention that birth announcements are optional.

He presents one extra bogus theory that Bristol actually gave birth to Trig in January and kept him in hiding and then Palin faked a pregnancy to cover for her, and then she took the baby to the hospital and pretended it was born in April, letting her father hold it for the cameras in the hallway. Do I need to go into the reasons this is totally far-fetched?

But you have to believe that theory or you are confronted with math that also throws the whole thing in doubt. If Bristol didn't secretly have the baby earlier, then after giving birth to a child with Down Syndrome (unusual for someone her age) in April, Bristol would immediately get pregnant again. As in, within weeks of giving birth. And then she would only carry the baby for a maximum of 32 weeks, giving birth in December.

And, she would never say anything about her previous pregnancy to Levi. (Because if she had, I'm sure he would have had a much easier time securing a book deal.) Given all the dirt that has come out about the Palins, don't you think someone, most especially her boyfriend, would have seen her if she were pregnant before Tripp?

Sure, given the information we have, it seems Palin made a risky, even reckless, decision to fly when she suspected her water was breaking, but that doesn't mean that she wasn't really pregnant.

She could just produce a birth certificate. But then I'm not certain that would make this story go away. Some people just want to believe, even when it's baseless. Just look at the birth certificate conspiracy about the president that Palin won't let go of.

Before the pregnancy: Palin in March of 2007 (Copyright: Brian Wallace. Not to be reproduced or distributed online, in print or on television)Before the pregnancy: Palin in March of 2007 (Copyright: Brian Wallace. Not to be reproduced or distributed online, in print or on television)

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