Kudos to Salon’s Justin Elliott for getting past the “we’re just asking questions” dodge of the Trig Truthers and actually attempting to get answers to those questions.  Somehow I doubt that this will be a very popular piece with Salon’s readers, perhaps somewhat akin to writing a 4000-word investigatory piece that concludes that Al Franken didn’t commit fraud during the recount and challenge phase of the 2008 Minnesota election for, er, here.  Elliott finds a number of people who would be happy to explain that they saw Sarah Palin carrying Trig in the final weeks of her pregnancy, including several news reporters:

Steve Quinn, who is now a freelancer, was the Alaska-based Associated Press journalist who wrote the wire story reporting that Palin was pregnant in early March 2008. He told us that rumors were circulating that Palin was not truly pregnant even back then — before she gave birth and well before she was tapped to be John McCain’s running mate. So, like any good reporter, Quinn looked into it — twice — and came away with solid reasons to believe there was no hoax.

According to Quinn, in the days immediately after Palin announced her pregnancy that March, he was in the governor’s office and asked her directly about the rumors. Palin smiled and, Quinn says, lifted an outer layer of clothing to show that she was indeed pregnant. “She was able to show a thin layer of clothing against her stomach that revealed an enlarged abdomen area,” he says. …

We also spoke to Erika Bolstad, a veteran McClatchy reporter who covers Washington for the Anchorage Daily News. In early 2008, Bolstad began working on a story about the vice-presidential buzz surrounding Palin. When Palin traveled to Washington for a meeting of the National Governors Association, held the weekend of Feb. 23-25, Bolstad caught up with Palin for an in-person interview. This was about a week before the pregnancy was announced, and about seven weeks before Palin gave birth to Trig. Bolstad told us that she distinctly remembers thinking that the governor looked pregnant.

“When I interviewed her and heard the news a few days later that she was pregnant, there was no doubt in my mind that it was true,” she said. “I saw her. She looked pregnant.”

At the time of the National Governors Association conference, Sam Bishop was a staffer in the Alaska governor’s office in Washington. Bishop, who is now an editor at the Fairbanks News-Miner, spent a large chunk of the second day of the conference — Feb. 24, 2008 — accompanying Palin to interviews and meetings. When he read the announcement about a week later that Palin was pregnant, Bishop told us, “I just slapped my forehead, and went, ‘Duh!'”

Another reporter actually saw Bristol Palin in the waiting room in the hours after Trig was born.  Most of the speculation among the conspiracy theorists rests on the idea that Trig was actually Bristol’s baby, not Palin’s, but Lori Tipton of KTUU says that’s ridiculous:

And Bristol [Palin] was in there, and I said to Bristol, “We should get some footage of you and your brother and your grandparents.” And she’s like, “No I really don’t like to be photographed.” And I said, “Are you sure?”  And she’s like, “Yeah, yeah, no.”  And she didn’t have any make-up on or anything, but she was dressed in typical teenage attire, a tight shirt, low-cut jeans, you know, and we had heard the rumors before the delivery of this baby also, that Bristol was pregnant, and so, when my photographer and I got to the hospital and we saw her, I thought, well, clearly there’s no way that that girl just delivered a baby seven hours ago.

Elliott also displays pictures of an obviously pregnant Sarah Palin taken in February 2008 at a public conference, as well as other photos taken at the same time.  Those pictures, however, have been known for quite a long time.  In fact, I wrote about them in September 2008 when the nonsensical conspiracy theories began arising, showing plenty of contemporary evidence of Palin’s pregnancy.

Those pictures did nothing to quell the conspiracy theories, and I’m afraid that Elliott’s fine work at Salon won’t have much effect, either.  Conspiracy theorists don’t engage in rational thinking, where testimony from at least a half-dozen reporters and the doctor’s own statements plus photographic evidence would be more than sufficient to put an issue to rest.  Those who have built entire industries out of their paranoia won’t give them up easily if at all — and that goes for all of the other forms of trutherism as well.