Sunday, September 07, 2008

Update: Times article confirms Sarah Palin gave birth in April; cites witnesses in delivery room; unclear how much detail was taken from People

The New York Times article on Sarah Palin's five-month-old Down syndrome child does not mention the rumours that the child was actually delivered by her daughter Bristol. Instead, it is a straightforward chronology of the events leading to Palin's delivery of the child and an implicit editorial criticism of her use of the child as as political prop:

"... with Trig in her arms, Ms. Palin has risen higher than ever. Senator John McCain, the Republican nominee for president, says he selected her as his running mate because of her image as a reformer, but she is also making motherhood an explicit part of her appeal... In just a few months, she has gone from hiding her pregnancy from those closest to her to toting her infant on stage at the Republican National Convention.

"No one has ever tried to combine presidential politics and motherhood in quite the way Ms. Palin is doing, and it is no simple task. In the last week, the criticism she feared in Alaska has exploded into a national debate... some accuse her of exploiting Trig for political gain.

"But her son has given Ms. Palin, 44, a powerful message. Other candidates kiss strangers’ babies; Ms. Palin has one of her own. He is tangible proof of Ms. Palin’s anti-abortion convictions, which have rallied social conservatives, and her belief that women can balance family life with ambitious careers. And on Wednesday in St. Paul, she proclaimed herself a guardian of the nation’s disabled children..."

Reported by three Times reporters, the article relies heavily on the authorized People magazine interview with Palin and her family, yet does seem to confirm that Palin went through with the delivery:

"When Ms. Palin arrived at the hospital, she was still not in labor, so her doctor induced it, Ms. Bruce said. Trig was born early the next morning, weighing 6 pounds 2 ounces.

"Parents who were in the next delivery room said the scene looked like any other, with no security detail in sight. The three Palin daughters came and went, and as Todd Palin passed through the corridors, he stopped to accept congratulations..."

The article also points to the possibility that Palin, who is solidly against abortion, may have considered the alternative herself:

"...A few weeks later, after an amniocentesis — a prenatal test to identify genetic defects — Ms. Palin learned the results (that the fetus was afflicted with Down syndrome). Some abortion opponents decline such tests, but as her older sister, Heather Bruce, said, Ms. Palin “likes to be prepared.” With her husband, Todd, away at his job in the oil fields of the North Slope, Ms. Palin told no one for three days, she later said.

"Once they reunited, the Palins struggled to understand what they would face. Children with Down syndrome experience varying degrees of cognitive disability and a higher-than-average risk of hearing loss, hypothyroidism and seizure disorders. About half are born with heart defects, which often require surgery.

"The couple decided to keep quiet about the pregnancy so they could absorb the news, they told people later..."

The question of Sarah Palin's parentage of her fifth child has been a major issue in Alaska since her surprise announcement, and a troubling and issue since she was cynically and recklessly selected by John McCain as his running mate. The Times, a paper that has often demonstrated good tabloid instincts, confirmed the story's legitimacy through its follow-up, while demonstrating to its "mainstream" colleagues an effective way of chasing a lead that could be seen as an unseemly: getting to the bottom of it without mentioning the reason for the investigation.

The Times did not "take their word for it."

Now, on to that affair and those photos!

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