Who Controls The Bristol Palin Media Machine?S

Especially in the wake of her In Touch cover story, Bristol Palin appears to be at the center of a media — and money — machine. But is it a machine of her own making?

Ever since last year, Bristol has been very publicly making the statement that while she loves her baby, she feels she made a mistake in getting pregnant. It's probably a feeling many teen moms have at some point, but most don't have a public platform to express it, and Bristol's career as an abstinence advocate has always seemed slightly odd. I have to wonder if, now that both her pregnancy and her breakup have been splashed across the national media — and now that her ex takes every opportunity to publicly bash her mom — Bristol might prefer some quiet time with her son to yet another magazine cover.

But of course, as in so many cases, it may come down to money. Bristol reportedly got six figures for her In Touch cover story, and she has also filed paperwork to start a PR firm. Sarah Palin's lawyer says the move has to do with Bristol's work for the Candie's Foundation, but the blog And So It Goes ... has a more sinister explanation: that the firm is a way for the Palin family to hold on to some of the money from Sarah Palin's PAC. ASIG asks, "What better way to keep the $$$$ in the family than to have her daughter in the business of 'political consulting' ??? You just pay the $$$$ for advice, and take or leave the advice, right?"

It's tempting to think of Bristol's high public profile as one big Sarah Palin conspiracy — a way to keep her family in the limelight while making some bank in the bargain. But having a baby is expensive, and In Touch mentions Bristol's various moves toward financial independence: she's already paying for diapers and formula, and she'd like to move out on her own when she has a steady cash flow. It's certainly possible that Bristol has decided to take advantage of her fame to build a nest egg for herself and her baby — if she doesn't mind the public exposure, it's a pretty savvy decision.

Still, the kind of fame open to Bristol right now is pretty circumscribed. In part because of her family and in part because of the self-flagellation we still seem to expect from girls who dare to have unprotected sex, Bristol has to send a pro-abstinence and anti-abortion message wherever she goes. In In Touch, that means saying that "I'm glad I chose life," while also "guaranteeing" that she will never have premarital sex again (except that as Dodai pointed out, the "again" is elided). While the In Touch article is upbeat, it does paint Bristol as something of a suffering saint, a fallen young woman re-purified by motherhood. Contrast that with Levi Johnston, a young father whose baby doesn't prevent him from being a sex symbol. In fact, one of his endorsements even made lighthearted fun of the unprotected sex that led to Tripp's conception — which to hear In Touch tell it is No Laughing Matter.

Bristol deserves a life of her own, and I hope both the decision to have Tripp and the decision to pose with him for a tabloid were really hers. But even if she's entirely the architect of her own media exposure — as she may well be — I can't help but wish that exposure were a little less predictable.

Bristol Palin: Another Family Money Maker [La Figa]
Bristol Palin Hits The Tabloids Again For Six-Figure Cover-Story Deal - Palingates Exclusive [Palingates]
Report: Bristol Palin May Become A Political Consultant [The Raw Story]
Update: SarahPAC And Keeping It All In The Family! — Bristol Is A Political Consultant Now! Really? Asks Rachel Maddow [And So It Goes ...]

Earlier: Sarah & Bristol Palin Push Pro-Life Message In New In Touch
She's In The Money