Palin's Tanning Bed: The Evolution of a Story

By Al Giordano

Bill Conroy and I have filed a new story on Narco News: Palin's Private Tanning Bed in the Alaska Governor's Mansion.

The investigation began as the result of a comment posted here by a reader (you know who you are; uncloak if you like and share the credit!), a comment I didn't approve because it made a rather fantastic claim: that one of the first things Governor Sarah Palin did upon taking office was to have a tanning bed installed in the Governor's Mansion for her use.

Given, it's not as big a deal as her policy positions and other mighty matters, but it offers a new piece of hard information about the nominee that nobody knows: Who would of thought that for all the hype about hunting and fishing and outdoorsy-ness, the governor is really a pioneer of the Great Indoors?

Still, we had to make sure the story was true and backed up by the facts. Too many bloggers - upon receipt of that tip - would have posted it, probably even exaggerated it, only to have a claim backfire if the facts behind it couldn't be readily documented. We've seen that dynamic at work too much in the past two weeks.

And so we worked the phones, researched, developed and talked to sources in Alaska and found that not only is the tanning bed story true, but by pulling at that thread it lead to others about authenticity, ethics, energy conservation, public health policy and who this person really is.

It's a small thing - sort of like that $400 haircut that chipped away at the credibility of a previous aspirant to national office - but from small matters sometimes come bigger truths.

Anyway, you get to be among the first to read it. Let us know what you think.

Update: A reader popped this into my mailbox overnight, the text of a May 2007 proclamation by Governor Palin declaring it "Skin Cancer Awareness Month." The parts relevant to this story are in bold:

Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the world and its incidence is increasing at the highest rate of any type of cancer. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, more than 1.3 million new cases are diagnosed in the United States every year. Melanoma-the deadliest form of skin cancer-kills one person every hour in the United States and is the third most commonly diagnosed form of cancer among women ages 25-45 and second most commonly diagnosed form of cancer among men of this age group. Skin cancer is caused, overwhelmingly, by over-exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun and from tanning beds. It is largely preventable. In fact, 95percent of skin cancers are preventable if we properly protect ourselves from UV rays. Eighty percent of one's lifetime sun damage occurs before age 18. It is imperative that we instill sun safety behavior among our children at an early age and thus incorporate sun safety education in our public educational system. The Cancer Crusaders Organization, an award-winning nonprofit skin cancer education facility and the proud home of the National Skin Cancer Awareness Symbol, strongly urges all Americans to become proactively engaged in efforts to protect children and young adults from this common, yet preventable, disease.

The Organization further asks for the enthusiastic and proactive support of our educators, health professionals and leaders to support initiatives and other such efforts to encourage sun-safe practices among our community, and thereby significantly reduce skin cancer incidence and mortality throughout the United States and thus improve the overall quality of life.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Sarah Palin, Governor of the State of Alaska, do hereby proclaim May 2007, as:

Skin Cancer Awareness Month

in Alaska, and urge all Alaskans to become proactively engaged in efforts to protect our children and young adults from this common, yet preventable disease.

Dated: May 4, 2007

Printed on 8/29/08 at 6:40:28 PM by

Note the time stamp at bottom: this was posted to the Alaska governor's web page on August 29 of this year - the day McCain announced Palin would be his vice presidential pick - more than 15 months after it happened, as part of an eleventh hour attempt to flesh out the governor's online resume. Interesting.

Update II: The Anchorage Daily News picks up our story:

Does Gov. Palin really have a tanning bed in the mansion? We don't know for sure, but take a look at this report fromĀ The Narco News Bulletin...

In fact, it came to our attention that there was a mention of the Governor's tanning bed in the same Anchorage newspaper's political gossip column, "The Ear," back in 2007:

"Ear has a copy of a work order for installation of a tanning bed at the Governor's Mansion. No, darlings, we didn't pay for it, the Gov's office assures Ear. Sarah bought it, used, as a gift for her daughters, they say. We are told electricians had to fiddle with outlets to make sure it runs properly."

Don't they read their own newspaper? That one flew under everybody's radar.

We sent written questions this morning to Roger Wetherell inquiring about the press release ("Skin Cancer Awareness Week") above, and also about that 2007 Anchorage Daily News item (specifically asking whether the Governor permits minors-of-age to use the tanning bed, as the newspaper reported; something that medical professionals and organizations, in our story, warn against, and a practice some call to ban).

Mr. Wetherell replied:

"You will need to obtain those specifics from the governor's press staff."

Oh, snap!

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About Al Giordano


Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.

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