Thursday, July 08, 2010

Down the rabbit hole, where things continue to get curiouser and curiouser

Earlier this year, University of Tennessee student David Kernall was found guilty on two of four charges for unlawfully accessing, in the fall of 2008, then-governor Sarah Palin's unencrypted and non-secured Yahoo e-mail account. (Critics and ethics watchdog groups argue that Palin had regularly used the private account to conduct state business in a way that was less than transparent.) By guessing her password, Kernall was able to access Palin's account; he posted screen-grabs of some recent e-mails and two photographs to the discussion board of the 4Chan group known as Anonymous, and they went viral. An anonymous "good Samaritan" informed one of Palin's contacts that the account's security had been breached, and it was deleted virtually immediately thereafter.

By then, several mainstream gossip sites such as Gawker had already posted the screen-grabs, photos, and a list of e-mail contacts.

Along with other writers and bloggers who've followed the chaotic story of the dishonest and profoundly unethical ex-governor, I've kept an eye on the original online article, excerpted below, and waited for a correction or explanation on the part of FOX News (or a released trial transcript against which to compare the article and determine if the quotes are accurate). And...nothing. Bristol Palin's curious testimony--presumably under oath--at Kernall's trial in April 2010, as quoted, still stands (in bold, below).

The former University of Tennessee student faced as much as 50 years for breaking into Palin's e-mail while the former Alaska governor was the Republican vice presidential candidate in 2008. [...]

Palin and her daughter Bristol testified during the trial, which lasted just a few days. Bristol Palin said she was distressed to find pictures of her newborn son in the public eye after her mother's e-mail was hacked. Defense attorneys argued Kernall, the son of a Democratic state lawmaker, was just committing a college prank.

Bristol Palin testified that she was distressed to find, online, pictures of her newborn son. She's referring to the pictures Kernell screen-grabbed in September 2008 and posted on the Anonymous board. The "newborn son" in question was not Tripp, with whom she was pregnant at the time; he would not be born until late December 2008, and obviously there would not have been any photographs of him posted anywhere until after that date.

Clearly Bristol was referring to Trig, who's shown in those very screengrabs below. If she meant, "My mother's newborn son", why didn't she just say "My little brother"? The FOX News reporter may well have erred, and misheard "I was distressed to find pictures of Trig online" as "I was distressed to find pictures of Tripp online" and extrapolated that to "newborn son", but when this was article was written, Tripp was already well over a year old--hardly newborn.

FOX news, the partisan right-wing news organization--Palin herself is a part-time contributor--has not corrected their article to this date.

The photos that Bristol is talking about, from August and September 2008 right before the Yahoo account was deleted, are these two. In the first, the Palin siblings sit with Bristol, who holds Trig on her lap; in the second, Willow Palin (or Bristol?) holds Trig on the McCain campaign plane, The Straight Talk Express. Via Wikileaks:

Photo from an August 31, 2008 e-mail to Palin; subject line: FW: Kids

Photo from a September 15, 2008 e-mail to Palin; subject line: LOOK AT TRIG!!!!!

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