Date: 18 January 2017 14:18
When then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin ran as the Republican nominee for vice-president in 2008, she aligned herself with a party promoting "abstinence until marriage as the responsible and expected standard of behavior." Contrast that with an announcement, delivered during the Republican National Convention, that a 17-year-old, unwed Bristol was five months pregnant with high school sweetheart Levi Johnston, who was 18 at the time.
"Bristol and the young man she will marry are going to realize very quickly the difficulties of raising a child," said Sarah and husband Todd Palin in a statement (via the Los Angeles Times), "which is why they will have the love and support of our entire family."
Just months after baby Tripp Easton Mitchell Johnston arrived, Bristol and Levi called off their engagement, and as time passed, the rosy picture of young love and family values portrayed on the campaign trail morphed into a much darker story. In her 2011 memoir, Not Afraid of Life: My Journey So Far, Bristol claims her virginity was "stolen" by Levi during a drunken camp-out with friends, according to excerpts in The Daily Beast. "All of my plans, my promises, and my moral standards had disappeared in one awful night in a series of bad decisions," she writes. The book also details her decision to use birth control and have unprotected sex as well as Levi's alleged reaction to the baby news: "It better be a f**king boy." Those images are a 180-degree shift from the storyline promoted during the campaign.
Levi's sister, Mercede "Sadie" Johnston, unabashedly bashed the Palin family (and posed nude) in Playboy in September 2016. Among her many allegations, Sadie claimed Bristol and Levi's baby news was no accident. "Bristol's pregnancy wasn't unexpected," she said (via People). "They were trying to conceive for months." Levi (who, by the way, posed nude for Playgirl) backed up that version of events in his own book, Deer in the Headlights: My Life in Sarah Palin's Crosshairs. In the memoir, he claims Bristol wanted to get pregnant because she was upset that her mom was pregnant, reported Time.
Leading a double life was allegedly encouraged by Bristol's family, at least according to Levi's 2009 interview with Vanity Fair. After the teens broke the baby news to Sarah, the governor supposedly hatched a plan to keep up appearances. "Sarah told me she had a great idea: we would keep it a secret—nobody would know that Bristol was pregnant," Levi said. "She told me that once Bristol had the baby she and Todd would adopt him…Sarah kept mentioning this plan. She was nagging—she wouldn't give up….I think Sarah wanted to make Bristol look good, and she didn't want people to know that her 17-year-old daughter was going to have a kid."
After Tripp's birth in December 2008, Bristol took a vow to remain abstinent until marriage and became a family planning activist, a Teen Pregnancy Prevention Ambassador for the Candie's Foundation, and a blogger for Patheos, a website promoting dialogue on spirituality. According to the Associated Press, tax documents revealed Bristol "earned more than $262,000 for her role raising awareness about teen pregnancy prevention in 2009." Some lauded her efforts, but others wondered if she was sending mixed messages about abstinence versus safe sex. "I'm not going to have sex until I'm married," she told In Touch magazine (via Entertainment Tonight) in 2009. "I can guarantee it."
In 2015, at age 24, an unwed Bristol changed course again, announcing via her Patheos blog, "I wanted you guys to be the first to know that I am pregnant." The father was reportedly former U.S. Marine Dakota Meyer. Their relationship unfolded with a whirlwind engagement, followed by a breakup, then the birth of Sailor Grace, and a period of seemingly amicable co-parenting. The on-again-off-again couple finally wed in June 2016 and announced in December 2016 that they were expecting another child, due in the spring of 2017.
Bristol blogs regularly about her faith and trust in God, but her antics appeared downright devilish over Labor Day weekend in 2016. Bristol and various family members reportedly engaged in a huge brawl involving about 20 people at a birthday party in Anchorage, Alaska. According to the Alaska Dispatch News, homeowner Korey Klingenmeyer was hosting a birthday party for his son, twin brothers, and Bristol's dad. No charges were filed, but witnesses claimed a "heavily intoxicated" Bristol punched Klingenmeyer repeatedly in the face.
In the police report (via E! News), Bristol claimed she confronted a woman who'd pushed her sister, but Klingenmeyer intervened, calling her a "slut" and a "c**t." She also told police (via the Dispatch), "They took my $300 sunglasses, they took my f**king shoes," then explained that her "f**king knees" and face were injured and that she had "a 5-year-old in the car." Bristol's dad and brother, Track Palin, were also allegedly involved in the melee. Though the altercation made national news, we didn't see it mentioned among her spiritual musings.
As if there wasn't already enough fodder to make the case for Bristol's double life, conspiracy theorists have cooked up more drama by suggesting Sailor was born a month prior to her announced birthday on Dec. 23, 2015. The rumors suggest the Palin family manipulated the birthday either because Meyer may not be the father or because Bristol and Meyer may have conceived prior to their engagement, thus partaking in that aforementioned premarital sex taboo again. Bristol shot down the scuttlebutt, posting proof on Instagram that she was in the hospital in December.
This isn't the first time conspiracies have shrouded the Palin family. There are those who claim Sarah's son, Trig, actually belongs to Bristol. As Gawker said, "That theory has never been definitely proven. (Or disproven, the Internet whispers.)"
After enduring so much criticism and controversy because of her position as a famous politician's daughter, one might think Bristol would empathize with others in her position. Think again. In her memoir, Bristol did not paint a flattering picture of Meghan McCain, the daughter of Arizona Sen. John McCain, who ran as the Republican presidential nominee with Sarah as his running mate in 2008. Writing about the first time she met Meghan, Bristol says (via The Daily Beast), that she felt "the sneaking suspicion that I might need to watch my back," adding, "Every time we saw Meghan, she seemed to constantly be checking us out, comparing my family to hers, and complaining. Oh, the complaining."
Bristol's complaining about Meghan and her mom, Cindy McCain, went on and on in print: "I'd never seen people with so much Louis Vuitton luggage, so many cell phones, and so many constant helpers to do hair and makeup," she writes (via The Huffington Post).
Meghan didn't seem to mind the criticism, telling Playboy (via E! News), "All that stuff she wrote was a total lie. I have, like, one Louis Vuitton purse. She's just young and confused and was thrust into all this. The media aren't kind to her. But once someone signs up for Dancing With the Stars, it's hard to sympathize."