Bristol Palin went on several talk shows recently as a spokeswoman advocating against teen pregnancy, and reactions seem to be split between finding the whole thing deliciously ironic or wholly unsurprising. Although drumming attention for a critical issue in the United States (teen pregnancy rates are still extremely high--and you thought swine flu was a pandemic!), the coverage of teen pregnancy rings hollow—not only was discussion centered around practicing abstinence, but Bristol herself rarely gets a word in edgewise.
As the "teen ambassador" (I'll say it again…"teen ambassador") for the Candie's Foundation (follow their dull Twitter feed here….um, 140 characters is enough that you can spell out "you"!), Bristol did a quick media tour promoting the organization and abstinence. But although people are talking about teen pregnancy the message is unfortunately narrow.
On Good Morning America, "birth control" only comes up when the host cracks a joke after viewing a Jenny McCarthy PSA: "As you've learned, there may be no stronger form of birth control than a screaming little baby being introduced into a teenager's life."
The subject is broached on the Today show, but weakly. Matt Lauer ventures, "Is there room in this entire discussion for safe sex?" I would hope the "entire discussion" of teen pregnancy would go beyond the experience of Bristol Palin. To her credit, she doesn't completely discount safe sex, but is a broken record on the "safest, most effective form."
Watching all these clips, it's hard not to feel bad for Bristol, not because she's been saddled with a bouncing baby boy earlier than she'd imagine, but she never seems to be able to speak for herself.
Remember her infamous Fox interview in February when Bristol began sharing her thoughts on teen motherhood, however nervously, only to have Grandma burst into the studio and talk for the rest of the interview (awkwardly not even taking a seat!) while Bristol quietly sat by holding baby Tripp?
On Good Morning America Bristol was accompanied by the father-like Neil Cole, founder of the Candie's Foundation, an odd spokesman for teen abstinence (hey ladies, chew on this: "Just because you're wearing high-heeled sexy shoes doesn't mean you should have a baby.")
Similarly, in the Today show clip, Matt Lauer asks Todd Palin what life is like for Bristol, who smiles shyly as the two men talk over her, her father describing, to the best of his knowledge I'm sure, what sacrifices teen mothers go through. (This is around 3:40 in the video above).
Even her ex-fiancee, Levi Johnston overshadows Bristol, and they don't even have to be in the same room. Recent news headlines on Palin weren't complete without the counterpoint of Levi's soundbite of abstinence being "unrealistic," although Bristol herself said the same thing in the Fox interview.
Since when did this face become the voice of reason when it comes to safe sex?
What do you think? Is Bristol Palin a believable advocate?