Johnston: Palin wanted to adopt Bristol's son as her own

The father of Sarah Palin's grandson takes the family business to Vanity Fair


Alex Koppelman
September 2, 2009 9:50PM (UTC)

Levi Johnston, the former fiancé of Sarah Palin's daughter Bristol, hasn't been shy about telling all ever since his engagement dissolved. For the latest installment of the Palin-Johnston saga, he went to Vanity Fair, and told some pretty explosive stories.

The most interesting is about the son Johnston and Bristol Palin have together, and what he says was former Gov. Palin's idea for how to deal with her daughter's pregnancy:

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Sarah told me she had a great idea: we would keep it a secret—nobody would know that Bristol was pregnant. She told me that once Bristol had the baby she and Todd would adopt him. That way, she said, Bristol and I didn’t have to worry about anything. Sarah kept mentioning this plan. She was nagging—she wouldn’t give up. She would say, “So, are you gonna let me adopt him?” We both kept telling her we were definitely not going to let her adopt the baby. 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.

There's good reason to be skeptical about this story; it's based on Johnston's word alone, as far as the excerpts published by Vanity Fair indicate, for one thing. Plus, as a "Palin partisan" pointed out to Ben Smith, earlier this year, when Larry King asked Johnston, "Giving up for adoption ever considered," Johnston answered, "Oh, no." That doesn't definitively contradict the new story -- "considered" can be different from "discussed," and it's possible he may not have elaborated further in order to save the story for Vanity Fair or another outlet. But it certainly throws this claim into some doubt.

There's one other interesting bit among the excerpts released thus far:

The Palin house was much different from what many people expect of a normal family, even before she was nominated for vice president. There wasn’t much parenting in that house. Sarah doesn’t cook, Todd doesn’t cook—the kids would do it all themselves: cook, clean, do the laundry, and get ready for school. Most of the time Bristol would help her youngest sister with her homework, and I’d barbecue chicken or steak on the grill.

Obviously, that's not uncommon in a family where two parents are working, especially where one of them has a high-profile, high-stress job like, say, governor. But it does tend to put a little bit of a crimp in Palin's family values talk.

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Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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