Bristol Palin, Levi Johnston Use Us to Tell Sarah Palin About Engagement

Couple announces reunion via magazine cover shoot

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the Palin family knows how to use the press to its advantage – and even against each other.

On Wednesday, Bristol Palin dropped a bombshell on her mom via an Us Weekly cover story (and photoshoot), announcing her engagement to former boyfriend, fiancé and babydaddy Levi Johnston — and claiming the couple had yet to tell Sarah Palin about their reunion.

"We got engaged two weeks ago," Bristol, 19, told the magazine. "It felt right, even though we don’t have the approval of our parents." The pair – who called off their previous engagement two weeks after the birth of their son, Tripp — say they “reconnected three months ago while working out a custody plan.”

Then some highly-orchestrated media manipulation was put in motion. Last week, Johnston used another glossy – People – to issue a public apology to Sarah Palin for lying about the former vice presidential candidate.

"Last year, after Bristol and I broke up, I was unhappy and a little angry. Unfortunately, against my better judgment, I publicly said things about the Palins that were not completely true," Johnston, 20, told People. "I have already privately apologized to Todd and Sarah. Since my statements were public, I owe it to the Palins to publicly apologize. So to the Palin family in general and to Sarah Palin in particular, please accept my regrets and forgive my youthful indiscretion. I hope one day to restore your trust."

In the same People article, Bristol hinted at a reunion: “[We want to turn] a new page here as co-parents … and [put] aside the past because doing so is in Tripp's best interest."

There’s more. Bristol – probably protecting Us’ exclusive – was coy when People asked her this week about “reports” of her and Johnston’s engagement.

"Yeah. I mean, I don't really want to get into detail about what's in store for our future, because who knows? But all I'd like to say about it is, hopefully we will be a family."

She did give People this nugget:

Bristol believes that if fame, money and her mom Sarah Palin's vice presidential campaign had not become part of her and Levi's lives, the ex-couple would already be happy living a simple life.

"I think Levi and I would be married," she says without hesitation. "He would still have his [oil] job on the North Slope, and we'd be in a one-bedroom apartment, scraping by."

Sarah and Todd Palin used the “Today” show to respond to the engagement announcement:

“Bristol at 19 is now a young adult. We obviously want what’s best for our children. Bristol believes in redemption and forgiveness to a degree most of us struggle to put in practice in our daily lives.”