This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," January 17, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And tonight on "Hannity," my exclusive interview with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. Now, this is the Governor's very first television appearance since the horrific shooting in Tucson that took the lives of six Americans and wounded more than a dozen others. She's here to respond to the political finger pointing that took place in the aftermath of that tragedy and much, much more.
And joining me tonight from Wasia, Alaska, is Fox news contributor Governor Sarah Palin. Governor, welcome back.
SARAH PALIN, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Sean. Thank you for the opportunity.
HANNITY: Let's go back to the very beginning, nine days ago, when the shooting occurred. Where were you and what were you thinking at the time?
PALIN: I was in my home, here in Wasilla, and, of course, my first thought, when I heard of the shooting, was -- and knowing that there were deaths -- was how absolutely atrocious this was and how evil a person would have to be to kill an innocent.
• Full Coverage of Arizona Shooting
And, then, as things unfolded and heard, Sean, about the death of an innocent child, a nine-year-old child, I thought nothing could be as horrendous as that. And, you know, that is the main thing that we need to remember here, even as we proceed in our discussion, Sean, is that there are families mourning and we mourn with those who mourn, we grieve with those who grieve. And may our prayers cover these families. And may, somehow, as we read in the Book of Jeremiah, God touch these families and envelope them in the peace that only he can provide. May he turn their mourning somehow, supernaturally, into joy.
HANNITY: Governor, I Googled your name and I put in the words, Sarah Palin Tucson shooting. And it came up nearly 10,000 times in 10,000 instances where you connected to this. When did you first realize you were being connected to this tragedy?
PALIN: Well, right away, unfortunately, and not just me. And this isn't about me. And my response, four days after this horrendous event, and in my response I talked about defending those who were innocent, had nothing to do with the shooting. And my defense wasn't self defense, it was defending those who were falsely accused.
I found out right away, because when I started to tuning in to hear, well, who did this? And names were not given, but I read my name in the reports. And then, I read Rush Limbaugh and, then, soon your name, Sean, and Mark Levin, and soon, Tea Party patriots, and soon, the entire state of Arizona was being falsely accused of somehow being accessories to this horrendous, horrendous crime.
That is why I was puzzled, at first, as to why, before facts were even gathered -- why it would be that the mainstream media would start accusing and using such a tragedy for what appeared to be, right off the bat, some political gain.
HANNITY: Yes, I didn't particularly like my profession, what I do for a living, being called a merchant of hate by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. I didn't like it at all, and I responded. And I'm going to get to your choice in responding and all that in just a second.
A lot of these initial stories, Governor, had to do with this map that your PAC had put up during the last campaign, and the fact that Congresswoman Giffords was one of the people on, quote, "the target list," in the crosshairs that were there. What could you tell us about this map? And I'll get into more questions after that.
PALIN: Well, that map wasn't an original graphic. In fact, for many, many years, maps in political races have been used to target certain districts that people would feel that they can get into those districts and find someone whom they believe would represent the constituents' will better than incumbent. And that is what this map represented that we used on my PAC. And the graphic that we used was crosshairs targeting the different districts. And, again, that's not original. In fact, Democrats have been using it for years. In fact, Bob Beckel, I believe that he had bragged on your show, Sean, that he is the one who invented these crosshairs or these targets.
So, you know, that came up right away, that, oh, it must be a cause of this horrendous evil act of this shooter, that perhaps he saw that map and that incited him towards violence, which, of course, is ridiculous. Again, it's not an original use of an icon or a graphic.
HANNITY: Did you or your PAC have this taken off the Website immediately after the shooting? Because that's been bantered about.
PALIN: You know, I believe that someone in the PAC, in fact, the contract graphic artist, did take it down. And I don't think that that was inappropriate. If it was going to cause much heartburn and even more controversy, I didn't have a problem with it being taken down.
But screenshots, of course, have been taken of that. And I don't know if the Democrats have taken down theirs in these ensuing days, but, again, knowing that that had absolutely nothing to do with an apolitical or perhaps even left-leaning criminal who killed these innocents and injured so many, I didn't have a problem with it being taken down if, in fact, it actually has been taken down.
HANNITY: Governor, you mentioned earlier the DLC has used this. Bob Beckel did say this; Pat Caddell, a Democrat, over the years has said this -- this is a DLC map we are looking at in the screen here, a bull's-eye map targeting districts, and it says it right there, targeting strategy. All these war analogies. Clinton's had a war room. It's very common in politics. Why do you think you were singled out and the left singled you out in this, Governor?
PALIN: I know that it isn't about me personally, but it is about the message that I am not hesitant at all to spread across this country. And that is that our country is on the wrong track. We've got to get put back on the right track, and we have to elect those officials who can adopt and enact policy to allow us to be prosperous and healthy and safe again. And I know that a lot of those on the left hate my message, and they will do all they can to stop me because they don't like the message.
But, again, we know that it's not just me. It's all who seem to embrace the time-tested truthS that helped build our country. They do not like to hear that message. And, as many of them have promised to do, they'll do what they can to destroy the message and the messenger.
HANNITY: Yes, during the campaign, we had Joe Manchin, now Senator Manchin, and he took a rifle and he fired a bullet right through the cap-and-tax bill. He said, in retrospect, he probably wouldn't do it again. In light of this criticism, fair or unfair, in light of the events, do you think targeting maps, bull's-eyes, et cetera, that they should no longer be used in these campaigns, Governor?
PALIN: You know, I think it's going to be very tough, and I think even futile, really, to really start censoring everyone's speech and everyone's icons that perhaps they have used traditionally for decades in political races and political talk. And, as I say, I believe that some of that will be futile.
We hear now of this desire, this demand, for civility in discussion when it comes to political debate. And certainly I agree with the idea of being civil. By definition civil means being well- mannered. Yes, we should be respectful, we should be civil, but we should not use an event like that in Arizona to stifle debate, and that time- honored and cherished tradition that we have in America being able to respectfully petition our government and protest peacefully and respectfully in order to effect the change that we would like to see in our government.
HANNITY: What do you think to pundits -- and I know so much has been said, as I mentioned, when we Googled you, it's, you know, 10,000 articles related to the Tucson shooting. And I've got to imagine that bothers you. It's -- I guess the question that I am asking here, some have suggested, well, this -- that's the end of Sarah Palin's political career. Sarah Palin has become radioactive, is a term someone used, for example. Do you -- do you -- does this impact you or your political future in any way, Governor? Or change you?
PALIN: Well, on this day, celebrating the legacy and the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., we would be well to remember one of his famous quotes. He had reminded listeners that a lie cannot live. And I believe that not in every situation, it's just going to be providence that sheds light on what the truth is. We have to do our part, also.
So, in a situation like we have just faced in these last eight days of being falsely accused of being accessory to murder, I and others need to make sure that we, too, are shedding truth -- shedding light on truth so that a lie cannot continue to live. Because if a lie does live, then, of course, your career is over, your reputation is thrashed and you will be ineffective in what it is that you are trying to do.
So, I will continue to speak out. They're not going to shut me up. They're not going to shut you up or Rush or Mark Levin or Tea Party patriots or those who, as I say, respectfully and patriotically petition their government for change. They can't make us sit down and shut up. And if they ever were to succeed in doing that, then our republic will be destroyed. Not necessarily me being sat down and shut up, but having the voice of respectful dissent being shut up. That would destroy our republic.
HANNITY: All right, Governor, we have a lot more to get to, including what you thought of President Obama's speech. Also, some of the threats that have been levied against you over the years.
We'll show you some of that videotape and -- and much, much more, as we continue our exclusive interview with Sarah Palin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM MARCH 26, 2010 IN TUCSON, ARIZONA)
PALIN: We know violence isn't the answer. When we take up our arms, we're talking about our vote. We're talking about being involved in a contested primary like this and picking the right candidate, too, John McCain. We thank you for that.
But this B.S. coming from the lame stream media lately about this...
PALIN: -- about us inciting violence...
PALIN: Don't let -- don't let the conversation be diverted. Don't let a distraction like that get you off track. Keep fighting hard for these candidates, who are all about the common sense conservative solutions that we need.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: And that was Governor Sarah Palin in March of 2010, speaking at a McCain rally in Tucson, Arizona.
And we continue to be joined now by Governor Sarah Palin from Alaska tonight -- Governor, when you specifically said when these war terms are used, this is not a call for violence. All of that was ignored by the media.
Does that frustrate you more?
PALIN: Well, I have repeated over and over my condemnation of violence and specifically trying to explain that when we talk about being up in arms, we're talking about getting to the voting booth in -- in a democracy within our republic. We want to make sure that we're exercising our right to vote. That is our arms.
But that was frustrating. I think the most frustrating part of this has been the accusation that I and others, upon responding to false accusations of being involved in murder, that we have interjected ourselves into the story.
And, Sean, let me share with your viewers a little secret about how the mainstream or the lame stream media actually works.
It was just a couple of hours after the shooting took place that we started getting calls -- Todd on his cell phone and I getting calls from reporters, network reporters ,saying, "Sarah, can you comment on this?," "Governor Palin, we need a comment on what do you think about what's going on in Arizona?"
You know, it wasn't time to respond, because we didn't have all the information. We didn't have all the evidence.
So in not responding until it was an appropriate time, until a memorial mass had taken place, until the families had opportunity to speak and until evidence was presented that I believe proved that Tea Party Americans and -- and innocent people had -- had nothing to do with the -- with the shooting, should be falsely accused...
PALIN: -- when finally information was gathered, Sean. And then, after those days, I spoke. I was being accused then by these same networks -- some network reporters -- of interjecting myself into the story.
And if you read back my statement of defense, it wasn't self defense. It was defending those who are innocent, talk show hosts, talk show host listeners, those who have nothing to do with a crazed, evil gunman who killed innocent people.
HANNITY: Do you -- you know, it's interesting, because the very same media that you're talking about, Governor, I have quotes here from NBC, from ABC, from CNN, from National Journal and the Anchorage Daily News -- and I can go on and on. The majority of them say something to the effect of Palin in the crosshairs -- the very same thing that they were so critical of you, they have used that terminology repeatedly again and again and again.
Do you receive, Governor, a lot of death threats?
PALIN: I receive a lot of death threats. My children do. That's the worst part of it, as you can imagine.
HANNITY: Let me -- let me go through some of the things that -- that I've picked up -- and these were -- some were controversies at the time -- and maybe get you to respond to them. Madonna was once at a concert in 2008: "And Sarah Palin just got off my street. She will not go to DC. She'll get off my street. I'll kick her ass if she doesn't get off my street."
Sandra Bernhard talked about if Palin shows up in New York City, she's going to be "gang-raped by my big black brothers."
There's a series of left-wing images about you, Governor, for example, a cartoon with the acronym MILP that depicts you being punched in the face with your glasses coming -- you know, obviously coming off. "a mother, I'd like to punch;" a bumper sticker for sale that reads, "abort Sarah Palin."
You know, and I could really go on for the better part of the show. And -- because a lot of this -- and the president talked about civil discourse. And, you know, I don't think a lot of people on the left have been very civil toward you over the years. And I don't -- I really don't hear you complaining a lot about it.
Why do you think they're trying to complain so much as you and this one map and -- and some of the -- you know, reload, etc. And some other comments you've made?
PALIN: I think they're -- the hypocrisy there is so glaring and the double standards. I mean it reminds me that those on the left if it weren't for their double standards, they'd have no standards.
So it -- it's almost, really, a waste of time to even address their hypocrisy. I mean we had a paid CNN host recently who announced to the world that her New Year's resolution was to bring down my 16- year-old daughter Willow. I mean, adult on child bullying that -- that's -- you know, I thought that that wasn't the real hip thing to do.
But, Sean, here's where I am personally on this. Knowing that, you know, the anchor holds. And I believe Second Timothy 1:7, in the Bible, it says god has given us a spirit of power and love and sound mind. He hasn't given us a spirit of fear.
So I call upon that and hold onto that and know that I don't have to be afraid no -- no matter what happens. I -- I don't have to be afraid.
But when we talk about the need for civil discourse and for the condemnation of violence that I believe we should all be believers in, then, yes, when -- when I hear those things coming from, I assume it is the left...
PALIN: -- then I know that perhaps they're -- they're not quite listening to, yes, what it is that the president just spoke of the other day.
HANNITY: Governor, what did you think of the president's speech the other night?
PALIN: Well, I thought that there were parts of it that really hit home, that all of us can hold onto and can -- and can live out, obviously. I agree with -- with those who have said that the -- the setting was a bit bizarre. It was kind of like a pep rally, kind of like a -- a campaign stop. And that was unfortunate, because that really did -- the setting -- distract away from the message. And the message is, as I prefaced my comments today with, the number one thing to remember here is that lives were lost, people were injured, a crazed gunman that I and you and others had nothing to do with influencing him, he is the sole person, I believe, to blame in this. And I thought that -- that the president hit on some of that and that was appreciated.
HANNITY: All right. We are going to have more, including some other allegations against Governor Palin. We'll give her a chance to respond, the former Alaska governor when we get back.
HANNITY: And we are back with more of our exclusive sit-down interview with former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.
Governor, when you finally released your video, not surprising, more controversy involving you. I want to give you a chance to respond to this. One was the timing of the release of the video, which was I believe the day before the memorial. And the second one was the term -- "but especially within hours of the tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible." And, you know, some of your critics saying, you didn't know the historical significance. Other people criticized you for that phrase. But I want you to address the timing and that phrase.
PALIN: I don't know how the heck they would know if whether I did or didn't know the term "blood libel," nobody has ever asked me. And "blood libel" obviously means being falsely accused of having blood on your hands. And in this case that's exactly what was going on. And yes, the historical knowledge that people have of the term "blood libel," it goes back to the Jews who were falsely accused back in medieval European times of using the blood of children. And you know, the criticism of even the timing of this statement is being used as another diversion, because I believe that there are many on the left, many critics, who don't want, for instance, Congress, to buckle down, get back to work.
There's this trifecta thing going on in our country right now that's going to bring America to her knees if Congress doesn't start addressing the issues at hand. That being our growing debt, a looming energy crisis if we don't start domestically developing our resources, and some of the national security policies that have been adopted and enacted, like the signing and the ratification of the START treaty that Russia's Duma won't even ratify because there are misinterpretations of what the preamble means.
So, we have these things going on right now that have got to be addressed, and Congress has got to get back to work. And it's just much easier, I believe, for critics of common-sense conservative agenda to try to divert and distract from the issues at hand, those tasks that must be addressed today.
HANNITY: What did you think of the criticism of those, though, in the Jewish community about the use of that term? I know others came to your defense, but what did you think about the critics?
PALIN: I think the critics, again, were using anything that they could gather out of that statement. And I'm, you know, you can -- you can spin up anything out of anybody's statements that are released and use them against the person who is making the statement. But, no, I appreciated those who understood what it is that I meant, that a group of people being falsely accused of having blood on their hands, that is what blood libel means. And just two days before I released my statement, an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal had that term in its title and that term has been used for eons, Sean.
PALIN: So, again, it was part of that double standard thing and goes back to if it weren't for those double standards, what standards would they have, I suppose.
HANNITY: A lot of Americans, Governor, on the left and on the right are interested in your thinking process about what you think about your political future. Have you given this thought, say, even prior to the tragedy in Tucson about what your political future is going to be? Are you thinking about running for president?
PALIN: I am not ready to make it an announcement as to what my political future is going to be, but I'll tell you, Sean, I am not going to sit down, I'm not going to shut up. I'm going to hopefully be able to help empower others who believe that one of the things that makes America so exceptional is our right to free speech. It's our right to vigorously yet respectfully debate ideas and intentions in this country. I'm going to continue down that path. And if that leads to be a candidate for a high office, then I will announce that at the appropriate time.
But for now, you know, I want to join others who are saying, no, peaceful dissent and discussion about ideas, that is what makes America exceptional, and we won't allow that to be stifled by tragic events that happened in Arizona. One that we should all -- we should all gather around, if you will, in order to condemn violence, but not to allow it to stifle debate in America.
HANNITY: Governor, almost from the second that you were on the national stage, you have been loved by many, and you have been a lightning rod in the public arena. When moments like this happen, do you ever find yourself saying to yourself, you know what? Maybe I am just going to stay in Wasilla and stay out of this big national debate? Do you ever have those moments of doubt, or perhaps feeling that you would like the comfort of not having to deal with this all the time?
PALIN: Other people are facing much greater hardships and making greater sacrifices that I am in just engaging in debate. And I'm thankful for the opportunity that I have to speak for many. And I will continue to do so. I feel very blessed to be in the position that I am. And I will take the darts and the arrows because I know others have my back and I have their back.
HANNITY: All right. Governor Palin, we really appreciate you being with us once again. Thanks for being onboard. And we'll be talking I'm sure in the weeks and months ahead. Thank you.
PALIN: Thank you.
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