NEW YORK -- When Newsweek published Andrew Sullivan's cover story three weeks ago with the provocative headline "Why Are Obama's Critics So Dumb?," former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin quickly took the magazine to task on Twitter.
"Newsweek: know what's truly 'dumb'?" Palin tweeted. "Giving a cover story to the TrigTruther conspiracy kook writer who thinks I didn't give birth to my son."
Sullivan, a veteran journalist who brought his popular Daily Dish blog to the Daily Beast and Newsweek a year ago, has long questioned Palin's account of how she gave birth to Trig, her fifth child, in April 2008. Salon, among other news outlets, has looked into the matter and last year debunked the theory that Palin didn't give birth to Trig.
Tina Brown, editor-in-chief of Newsweek and the Daily Beast and oft-described "Queen of Buzz," is renowned for running attention-grabbing stories and covers in hopes of sparking conversation and controversy. So it's not surprising Brown would commission a piece from Palin on Trig just weeks after Palin took a shot at one of the magazine's top writers over his history of raising doubts about Trig's birth.
But a Daily Beast spokesperson says the Palin piece was assigned last week following the news that Rick Santorum's daughter, Bella, had been hospitalized and he was briefly leaving the campaign trail.
"We asked Sarah Palin if she would like to share her personal story about life with a child with special needs upon learning about Senator Santorum's decision last week to place his campaign on hold to be with his daughter," the spokesperson emailed.
Palin's article, "My Life With Trig," is now online and in the iPad edition of Newsweek that's on sale Sunday. The print issue hits newsstands Monday.
While Palin doesn't address those who've questioned her account of Trig's birth, it's hard not to view the first-person essay as something of a response to Sullivan, especially given her recent criticism of him and Newsweek. She writes:
When I discovered early in my pregnancy that my baby would be born with an extra chromosome, the diagnosis of Down syndrome frightened me so much that I dared not discuss my pregnancy for many months. All I could seem to muster was a calling out to God to prepare my heart for what was ahead. My prayers were answered beyond my shallow understanding of what true joy could be. Yes, raising a child with special needs is a unique challenge, and there's still fear about my son Trig's future because of health and social challenges; and certainly some days are much more difficult than if I had a "normal" child.
Since the end of the 2008 presidential campaign -- when Palin came to prominence on the national stage -- she's had a complicated, co-dependent relationship with the news media. She's famous for attacking media elites while also profiting off their attention by securing lucrative book deals and a multimillion-dollar contract with top-rated cable network Fox News.
In July, Palin landed on Newsweek's cover and helped drum up more media speculation that she'd run for president by declaring, "I can win." MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell blasted Newsweek's "desperate attempt to boost newsstand sales," while stating that Palin "is never going to run for president or any other elective office." Months later, Palin finally ended the media guessing game by announcing she would not run.
While Palin seems to have a good relationship with Newsweek under Brown's stewardship, she clashed with the previous regime. In May 2010, she called the magazine "sexist" for using a Runner's World photo of her for its cover.
"We chose the most interesting image available to us to illustrate the theme of the cover, which is what we always try to do," then-editor Jon Meacham told The Huffington Post at the time. "We apply the same test to photographs of any public figure, male or female: Does the image convey what we are saying? That is a gender-neutral standard."