Despite His Denials, Still Plenty of Problems with that Michael Joseph Gross Vanity Fair Story

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Article courtesy of Big Journalism

Michael Joseph Gross, the author of the recent Vanity Fair hit piece on Sarah Palin, does not seem to be able to tell the truth. In a new attempt to “shoot the messenger” (me) rather than admit that his story is concocted, he tries to turn the tables and call my credibility into question. The problem–there are witnesses and logistical impossibilities that expose further problems with his story. He says:

I could not have spoken to her in Independence, because I was not allowed backstage on the floor of the arena, where Loudon was; that was a restricted space, and, as far as I am aware, all reporters were barred from the area.

Quoting from the first words of his article:

Backstage in the arena, a little girl in Mary Janes pushes her brother in a baby carriage, stopping a few yards shy of a heavy, 100-foot-long black curtain. The curtain splits the arena in two, shielding the children from an audience of 4,000 people clapping their hands in time to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” The music accompanies a video “Salute to Military Heroes” that plays above the stage where, in a few moments, the children’s mother will appear.

When the girl, Piper Palin, turns around, she sees her parents thronged by admirers, and the crowd rolling toward her and the baby, her brother Trig, born with Down syndrome in 2008. Sarah Palin and her husband, Todd, bend down and give a moment to the children; a woman, perhaps a nanny, [this is the part he already admitted was an “error” after we exposed it on Big Journalism] whisks the boy away; and Todd hands Sarah her speech and walks her to the stage. He pokes the air with one finger. She mimes the gesture, whips around, strides on four-inch heels to stage center, and turns it on.

His next statement in his defense:

(I was sitting several rows up, in a place where I was able to observe what was happening both in front of and behind the curtain.)

Alas for Mr. Gross, that is simply not possible. To quote from a just-released statement from the organizers of the Independence, Mo., rally:

From a logistical standpoint, if an individual was able to report about activities going on behind the curtain they could not have done so from solely sitting in the audience but would have had to knowingly gone behind the curtain and into the backstage area.

He continues with his story:

Let me state this as unequivocally as possible: Loudon’s accounts have no basis in reality. I do not mean simply that the facts are wrong—I mean that the episode did not occur.

This doesn’t make any sense: he has admitted that he mistakenly identified my child for Sarah’s child at this precise event, in this precise location. Why would he admit that, and then later say that the whole episode never occurred? If the events “never occurred” then why did he write a retraction?

Okay then, how was it that Mr. Gross was, in his words, “backstage at the Arena” writing about an incident that he later retracted, if the following is true, according to organizers of the event in a statement:

This event was open press but like a lot of other events we discouraged press backstage unless a member of the press had prior approval from our speakers.

Here is the full statement from the organizers of the event in question:

On May 1, 2010, Preserving American Liberty’s Winning America Back conference in Independence, Missouri was an open press event. We distributed approximately 100 press credentials to local and national media who covered the one day event. This grassroots program featured remarks from prominent national conservative leaders such as Fred Thompson, J.C. Watts, and Sarah Palin. In addition to these speakers we hosted two panel discussions. The first discussion was on the economy and focused on how best to create jobs for the millions of Americans who are unemployed, how we should approach our growing national deficit, and the effect the stimulus bill has had on our economy. Panel participants included Dr. Gina Loudon, BUYcott Founder and Conservative Talk Show Host who announced her BUYcott of Arizona and Ken Hoagland, Chairman, Online Tax Revolt. The second panel featured leaders in the African American and Hispanic communities on the importance for conservatives to reach out to minorities. Panel participants included Pastor Stephen Broden who is a Republican candidate for Congress in the 30th Congressional in Texas and Mario Lopez, President, Hispanic Leadership Fund.

This program was put on to have a dialogue about real solutions to the problems our country is facing. Preserving American Liberty is solely comprised of unpaid volunteers who have come together to provide educational forums for the Kansas City metropolitan area. This event was open press but like a lot of other events we discouraged press backstage unless a member of the press had prior approval from our speakers. However, some members of the press and general public were able to make their way behind the curtain throughout the day. During those times we kindly asked members of the press and general public to leave the backstage area because this area was solely for our volunteers, productions teams, and an area for our off-stage announcement of our speakers. To help alleviate the distractions going on behind the stage the venue was setup with a curtain backdrop that ran the length of the arena. This curtain didn’t allow audience members (including the press) to see behind the stage. Again, since this was not a professional event but put on by volunteers some members of the press and the audience were able to purposely sneak to the backstage area throughout the day long event. From a logistical standpoint, if an individual was able to report about activities going on behind the curtain they could not have done so from solely sitting in the audience but would have had to knowingly gone behind the curtain and into the backstage area. In order to keep our program running on time and efficiently as possible whenever a member of the press or general public were seen backstage we kindly asked the individual(s) to return to their seats in the arena.

Dr. Karladine Graves

President, Preserving American Liberty