Vanity Fair Author Blown Out of the Water

Saturday, September 4, 2010

I called out Michael Joseph Gross for his hit piece on Governor Palin in my article, "Vanity Fair's 'Gross' Hit Piece on Gov. Palin." Included in that post was a quote from a friend of the Palins debunking his lies and multiple links to Liberals who blasted Gross' article.

The Vanity Fair piece continues to lose credibility, not that it ever had any to begin with. The article begins with a description of Governor Palin and her husband Todd backstage at the "Winning America Back" conference, which I attended in May in Missouri. He writes about Piper getting "the signal to do her job" and that "a woman, perhaps a nanny, whisks [Trig] away." It appears Gross opens with this scene to paint a picture of a woman who uses her children as props. Unfortunately, he got his information wrong. No, he lied. No surprise there.

Dr. Gina Loudon tells the true story:

Unfortunately for Mr. Gross, it happens that I shared the stage with Sarah Palin at that event. I announced my BUYcott of Arizona that day, and I remember it well.

As I stood backstage with the Palins I remember a reporter asking me if I were “Trig’s Nanny” with a hint of something I didn’t trust in his eyes. I coldly retorted, “no, I am Samuel’s mother.” He looked confused, and had more questions to follow. In his VF story, he said that no one is willing to speak about Sarah “on the record” unless they are paid by her, or afraid. I was one of the people you interviewed Mr. Gross. I am not paid, or afraid. But since you opted not to print what I told you, here is the rest of the story:Since the first time the Governor saw my son Samuel (who also has Down syndrome), she bolts across the room to greet him every time she sees him. She nuzzles him like a mother who loves children with Down syndrome does. I remember commenting to my husband that she always “does the mama smell” of Samuel, that only moms understand.

All of the Palin children circle around Samuel the moment they can get close, but Piper, in particular, cannot seem to get enough of him. She literally plays with him (Gross does say she played with “the children” in his story) from the moment she sees him, until the moment she is pressed to let go of him. It is so sweet, and it speaks to the parenting in her life. She has obviously been taught a real, tangible love for “special children” by her parents, and it shines when she lights up at the sight of a baby with Down syndrome. This is not an ordinary reaction in children. Most children step away, look curious, or frightened, or confused. Not the Palin children, and especially not little Piper.

After an event in Nashville, the Governor went to the trouble of making a special call to me to thank me and tell me how much Piper enjoyed “loving on” my Samuel. During the event where the Governor and I spoke in Independence, the Palins stood backstage for a long while as others took the stage. Sarah pulled me aside to ask me how blessed I felt to be the mother of someone chosen and special, like Samuel. She held both of my hands and confided her fears and love for her little Trig, and the miracle of all he has taught her. She glowed as she explained how he greets each morning with a smile, and we talked about the gentle touch of a child with Down syndrome that feels almost like the wing of an angel. I would love to tell you more about the depth of her love, concern, and compassion for her child, but she deserves my confidence. She spoke from a tender, mother’s heart, one that Mr. Gross wouldn’t know if it slapped him with a silicon spatula in a moose stew pot!

After I explained which children were Todd and Sarah’s, and which were mine and my husband’s, Mr. Gross moved into a sinister line of questioning. I let him know that I was surprised that he believed the baloney written about her during her 2008 race with John McCain. I told of my work on Governor Palin’s “advance team” and that I was there when the whole St. Louis “story” about her alleged expensive taste became more important to some writers than her stellar performance in the debate. I told him the Governor I know was always polite, always a lady, even behind the scenes in her darkest moments. I remember one night after a day of campaign season attacks when she came back to the hotel afterward. She held Trig in one arm, and cuddled Piper with the other. She was patient with her other children when they were asking about exploring the hotel. She kissed her husband who, though tired, glowed with pride in his bride (he spent hours earlier in the day hanging out and smal -talking with the advance team while her plane was running behind schedule), and she was careful to stop and say hello to all her staff and advance team despite the fact that she must have been exhausted after battling the press all day. I remember that night because I could not understand where she was getting all her energy, joy, and warmth after such a wicked day.

I told Mr. Gross that the Palin family is so real, it is unreal. What you saw in front of the cameras is precisely what you saw behind the scenes. I have known a lot of politicians. The interesting thing about the Palins is how grounded they are, despite their astonishing success. Mr. Gross says he talked to her hairdressers, makeup artists, waiters, and clerks at the Independence, Mo., event, and he tells of scandal, self absorption, and power slinging.But he never mentions talking to me, or to others I heard echoing the sentiments I offered to him. One of the most endearing components of the Palin family is their ability to point out, and laugh at their flaws. The Palins were gracious enough to let Mr. Gross follow them for months backstage, behind the scenes, and in their private moments around their staff and friends and family, and this is how he thanks them?


I do agree with you on one thing, Mr. Gross. You said that “Her talk of leading with ‘a servant’s heart’ is a dog-whistle for the born-again. Her dig at health-care reform as an expression of Democratic ambitions to “build a Utopia in the United States is practically a trumpet call (because the Kingdom of God is not of this earth), and perfection can be achieved only in the life to come.

But it is Palin’s persistent encouragement of the prayer warriors that most clearly reveals her worldview: she is good, her opponents are evil, and the war is on.” Agreed. She is good, her opponents are evil, and the war is on!

One more thing among your errors: “the boy” in the excerpted quote above, was not Trig Palin. That was my Samuel, also a beautiful boy with Down syndrome. No “nanny whisk(ed) the boy away.” I am his mother. I took my son, Samuel from Sarah before she went on stage. I told Mr. Gross that fact, but he didn’t let that divert him from his pathetic narrative.

That is not journalism. That is just gross.

All I can say is "Wow." She blew him clear out of the water. Anonymous sources versus this real account by a real person with a real name. I say it all the time, and so say I again: "A person with an experience is never at the mercy of a person with an argument"--or a bag of lies. Please read all of Dr. Loudon's post here at Big Journalism.

So what was Mr. Gross to do after Dr. Loudon's article?

Via the Associated Press:

A writer for Vanity Fair has acknowledged a case of mistaken identity in an unflattering article about Sarah Palin in the magazine's October issue.

In the article, Michael Joseph Gross describes Palin's youngest son, Trig, being pushed in a stroller before the start of a May rally in the Kansas City suburb of Independence. But the boy in the stroller was not Trig — but another child with Down syndrome.

The mother of the child, conservative activist Gina Loudon, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch she thought Gross might have been confused during the rally and that she tried to explain she was the boy's mother, not Palin. She says he "just ignored facts."

Gross says in a written statement Friday sent to The Associated Press that he regrets the error.

The Vanity Fair article was a bunch of bull from beginning to end. It would serve the author well to admit it and get it over with, rather than having to issue retractions little by little.

(h/t C4P)


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