WASHINGTON — He’s long been a thorn in Sarah Palin’s side, but Levi Johnston now says that some of the explosive secrets he spilled about America’s most notorious political family were nothing more than anger-fuelled fabrications.
Johnston has told People magazine that he lied about the former Alaska governor and her clan, though he didn’t say which of his many tidbits over the past several months have been false.
“Last year, after Bristol and I broke up, I was unhappy and a little angry,” the 20-year-old hockey enthusiast told People.
“Unfortunately, against my better judgment, I publicly said things about the Palins that were not completely true.”
Johnston’s capitulation is likely welcome news for Palin amid speculation she’s continuing to position herself for a run at the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. Johnston’s flurry of bombshells last year about the family angered Palin, who frequently responded with enraged statements of denial.
Her daughter’s teenaged pregnancy stunned Republicans two years ago when it came to light shortly after the socially conservative Palin, an advocate of abstinence-only sex education in schools, was chosen as John McCain’s running mate.
Johnston’s mea culpa comes amid rumours the brawny Playgirl pin-up boy has reconciled with Bristol Palin, itself a stunning development that has resulted in yet another round of torrid, tabloid-friendly drama in Alaska.
Johnston’s sister, Mercede, has been blogging at MercedeJohnston.com about the apparent reconciliation, and expressed dismay about her brother’s comments to People despite his demand that she shut the blog down.
The teen’s blog is almost entirely devoted to answering questions about the Palins, including this one concerning Palin’s youngest child: “Did Trig have a ruffled ear when he was born?” Answer: “I have no idea.” And: “Did I ever see any books in the Palin home?” Answer: “No, I did not, but I was not really paying attention.”
“I am extremely disappointed in him,” Mercede Johnston wrote Wednesday about her brother, whom she described as being “controlled like a puppet.”
She also denied his assertion that the stories he told were false.
“I am very disappointed that he is allowing them to control him in such a manner.”
The Johnston-Palin ceasefire, if permanent, ends a high-profile romp in the public eye for Johnston, who was a frequent fixture on U.S. talk shows, enjoyed a profile in Vanity Fair magazine, attracted a gay following after posing naked on Playgirl’s website and squired comedian Kathy Griffin to the Teen Choice Awards last summer.
At the time, Griffin said Johnston was having great fun tormenting Palin with his allegations, which included an accusation that the self-styled hockey mom knew he and Bristol Palin were having pre-marital sex and that she routinely referred to Trig, who has Down syndrome, as “retarded.”
“Levi enjoys being in on the joke,” Griffin said.
“He likes playing along. He likes anything, I think, that is a middle finger to Sarah Palin.”
Among other allegations, Johnston also said Palin badgered the young couple to let her adopt their baby in order to avoid political embarrassment.
“You know, I mean, if I really wanted to hurt her, I could very easily,” Johnston said last November.
Johnston told People he has privately apologized to Palin and her husband, Todd, for those sorts of comments.
His confession placed at least one major media outlet in an awkward spot. On Wednesday, CBS’s The Early Show made no mention of Johnston’s admission despite conducting numerous exclusive interviews with him last year.