Let me state this as unequivocally as possible: Loudon’s accounts have no basis in reality. I do not mean simply that the facts are wrong—I mean that the episode did not occur. I have never met Gina Loudon. I have never spoken to Gina Loudon in person or by phone. I have never exchanged e-mail or snail mail with Gina Loudon. I did not even know Gina Loudon’s name until it began cropping up in connection with the accounts quoted above. Furthermore, I could not have spoken to her in Independence, because I was not allowed backstage on the floor of the arena, where Loudon was; that was a restricted space, and, as far as I am aware, all reporters were barred from the area. (I was sitting several rows up, in a place where I was able to observe what was happening both in front of and behind the curtain.)Today, Gina Loudon wrote another response where she continued to accuse Gross of lying, and she said on Twitter that she had "proof." In fact, she presented proof that she is being completely dishonest.
It could be that Loudon spoke to another reporter that day, and that this is a case of mistaken identity. The other possibility is that Loudon has simply made everything up, inventing and publicizing a complete fabrication for her own purposes. It is either the one thing or the other.
Loudon starts her attack on Gross at Andrew Breitbart's Big Journalism by focusing in on this quote from Gross:
I could not have spoken to her in Independence, because I was not allowed backstage on the floor of the arena, where Loudon was; that was a restricted space, and, as far as I am aware, all reporters were barred from the area...Loudon then highlighted the word "backstage" in this passage from Gross's original article:
(I was sitting several rows up, in a place where I was able to observe what was happening both in front of and behind the curtain.)
Backstage in the arena, a little girl in Mary Janes pushes her brother in a baby carriage, stopping a few yards shy of a heavy, 100-foot-long black curtain...Now anyone with a rudimentary understanding of the English language would understand that the phrase "Backstage in the arena" is not referring to the reporter, but rather to the the subject of the sentence: "a little girl in Mary Janes." Yet Loudon seems to think that the sentence counts as evidence that Gross implied he was backstage. as you can see in this quote from her:
Okay then, how was it that Mr. Gross was, in his words, “backstage at the Arena” writing about an incident that he later retracted,So that bit from Loudon was obviously nonsense, but she did attempt to provide "evidence" that disproved Gross's statements. Her evidence consisted in a statement from "the organizers" of the event that Gross could not have been sitting in a place where he could observe both the stage and behind the stage. Here is the quote from the organizers:
From a logistical standpoint, if an individual was able to report about activities going on behind the curtain they could not have done so from solely sitting in the audience but would have had to knowingly gone behind the curtain and into the backstage area.However, by doing a little research on the internet, I can now prove that the organizers' statement is false. First of all, take a look at the seating chart for the Independence Events Center, where the event was held:
From the seating chart, it might look like sections 119 and 102 would have views behind the stage. However, for this event, the stage was actually located more towards the center of the arena, which we can see thanks to photos from Preserving American Liberty, the event organizers:
If you click the photo for a zoomed in view, you can see the section numbers 115 and 116 in the red circles. Furthermore, you can see plenty of people who are sitting in the sections to the side of the stage:
Now, we can't see the next section number, but we know that it should be 117 from the seating chart. And we know that the people near that area should be able to see behind the stage, provided that there's no visual barrier between the backstage and the audience. And, thanks (again) to a picture from Preserving American Liberty titled Kris Kobach and Sarah and Todd Palin backstage , we can see that there is, in fact, no visual barrier between the backstage and the seating (notice also the section 117 marker in the background):
Now it is obvious from these photos that it would have been possible to sit in the audience where you can both see the stage and see backstage. Therefore, the following quote presented by Loudon from "the event organizers" is patently false:
From a logistical standpoint, if an individual was able to report about activities going on behind the curtain they could not have done so from solely sitting in the audience but would have had to knowingly gone behind the curtain and into the backstage area.Furthermore, if you read the passage in question from Gross, the language is all referring to events that could be observed from a distance, and in fact he makes explicit reference to being able to see the split in the stage:
Backstage in the arena, a little girl in Mary Janes pushes her brother in a baby carriage, stopping a few yards shy of a heavy, 100-foot-long black curtain. The curtain splits the arena in two, shielding the children from an audience of 4,000 people clapping their hands in time to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” The music accompanies a video “Salute to Military Heroes” that plays above the stage where, in a few moments, the children’s mother will appear.Gina Loudon's latest piece for Big Journalism is blatantly dishonest. It falsely claims that Gross could not have seen the stage from the audience, which is clearly not true based on photos of the event provided by Preserving American Liberty. It is Gina Loudon and Preserving American Liberty who owe an apology to Michael Joseph Gross for falsely accusing him of lying.
When the girl, Piper Palin, turns around, she sees her parents thronged by admirers, and the crowd rolling toward her and the baby, her brother Trig, born with Down syndrome in 2008. Sarah Palin and her husband, Todd, bend down and give a moment to the children; a woman, perhaps a nanny, whisks the boy away; and Todd hands Sarah her speech and walks her to the stage. He pokes the air with one finger. She mimes the gesture, whips around, strides on four-inch heels to stage center, and turns it on.