I can still remember the time I paged through a lengthy brief claiming that Trig Palin was not Sarah Palin’s son, and that the former Alaska governor had perpetrated some mindbending, complicated fraud. Forgive the bluntness, but my reaction was simply this: “Well, that right there is some bullshit.” Recently, the whole matter has been forced back into the public eye with the publication of an academic paper on the matter. Once again, I read through the brief, and had the same reaction, mixed with a puzzlement that it had been sold as some sort of new and groundbreaking take.
It wasn’t. It was more or less a practical joke, warmed over with academic pretensions. The fact is that Trig Trutherism, like Birtherism, and also classic 9/11 Trutherism, are different offshoots of the same conspiratorial tradition, where you begin with a zany premise and work backwards, selecting “evidence” that can be shoehorned into your premise, while omitting or ignoring the details that shoot it down. Pretty soon, you’re attempting to draw astral meaning from photographs you didn’t take and pondering the significance of the pilot episodes of “X-Files” spin-offs.
How long should anyone tolerate this astral projection? Let it cease forever, with the publication of Justin Elliott and Steve Kornacki’s multipart takedown of the entire mythos — which shows great restraint in that it’s not all titled, “Where’s Your Messiah Now, Andrew Sullivan?”