A Paper On The Press And Trig

Justin Elliott reports on a proposed academic paper that lays out the remarkable incuriosity of the American press when it came to getting to the bottom of the strange stories Sarah Palin told about the birth of her fifth child, Trig. Elliott regards this as self-evidently embarrassing for the Northern Kentucky University professor who wrote the paper. He also reiterates a simple and easily checked untruth about my own curiosity about this affair. This blog has never asserted or argued that

that Sarah Palin faked her 2008 pregnancy because Trig is actually the son of Bristol Palin.

All I have done is ask for evidence that Sarah Palin is the biological mother, evidence that must be easily available and definitive.

From the very get-go, I have wanted simply to get this out of the way and have deliberately kept my inquiry narrowly focused on the obligation of a public figure to provide evidence to back up politically loaded biographical claims. The birth of Trig was critical to appealing to a pro-life base, and was used as a political argument and weapon in the 2008 campaign and since. It cannot surely be "embarrassing" for the media to ask for evidentiary proof – any more than it was inappropriate for Obama to produce proof of his birth in Hawaii. It may be awkward, but it isn't illegitimate. If someone asked for evidence of a candidate's, say, war record, no one would bat an eyelid. And when the claims are made by someone obviously delusional and deceptive about a whole number of matters, the press should feel no qualms at all. And yet they uniformly took Elliott's position that this kind of inquiry is beneath them. Look: you're the press. Nothing is beneath you.

Elliott does not criticize the paper; he offers no thoughts on the specifics; he has no opinion on the media's role. He just asserts that this is an absurd request, even though Palin is actually on record saying she has already released a birth certificate for Trig (which she hasn't).

And so Elliott, far from rebutting the theory of press laziness and incuriosity in the paper, actually adds one more tidbit of confirmation.