Washington Post's Sally Quinn Defends Scathing Palin Column

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," July 10, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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LAURA INGRAHAM, GUEST HOST: In the "Factor Follow-up" segment tonight: Sarah Palin is under fire again after announcing that she would resign as governor of Alaska. And now some in the media are even questioning whether she's a good mother:

"Palin is a right-wing, evangelical Christian for whom 'family values' and the role of the mother are paramount. Yet here was Sarah Palin resigning as the governor of Alaska for political reasons. This is not putting your family first. We should not be surprised. This is a woman who hid her pregnancy until the last two months. This is a woman who took off in an airplane from Arizona to Alaska after her water broke and barely made it to the hospital to deliver Trig. And this is a woman who accepted the nomination for vice president with a 3-months-old special needs child and an unwed 17-year-old daughter pregnant by another high-schooler."

Now, that's a mouthful and goes on and on. With us now is the woman who wrote that piece, Sally Quinn, the co-founder of On Faith, a Washington Post blog about religion.

Sally, it's great to see you, and you're probably not surprised to believe that I was a bit taken aback by what you wrote, because part of what you wrote is that you mentioned one of the reasons that she stated for stepping down, which was because she was upset that the 14-month-old — her 14-month-old son, Trig, who has Down Syndrome, was mocked and ridiculed by some pretty mean-spirited individuals. One of her children had said that…

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SALLY QUINN, ON FAITH BLOGGER, WASHINGTON POST: Actually she didn't that say that. One of her children said that.

INGRAHAM: I'd like to know the names of those mean-spirited adults who mocked and ridiculed her special needs child. Well, I have one for you.

QUINN: Oh good.

INGRAHAM: His name is Erik Sean Nelson of the Huffington Post, and he wrote this: "Palin will be the first politician to actually try to increase the population of retarded people." It goes on. Palm Beach Post: "Rumor has it that her son Trig is really her grandson." And criticism of campaigning and raising a special needs child. That was from the Palm Beach Post, September 4, 2008. But the nastiness was out there about her special needs child and her. Do you condemn that?

QUINN: Well, I think this is even more a reason why that she should have said when she stepped down because she did give many reasons. I mean, she said she stepped down for national — she wanted to study national security and energy, and it was the money. And, you know, they were being sued and litigation and potential scandal and all of that. And here was a one chance that one person ever could say, "I'm stepping down because I want to spend more time with my family." And everyone would have believed it. And I think that she does have a special needs child. I know about this because I have a special needs child.

INGRAHAM: But do you condemn what that guy wrote in the Huffington Post?

QUINN: Absolutely. I mean, it's disgusting.

INGRAHAM: You said you would like to know the names. I gave you the names. This was happening out there.

QUINN: OK, yes.

INGRAHAM: They were saying this wasn't her child. And Sally, I've got to say, women, you know, maybe have a lot of reasons for doing things, and you've written about this in your blog. Women might have some family rationale, might be financial in part. Maybe it's a multiple of things going on. What's wrong with that?

QUINN: There's nothing wrong with it. But what I'm saying is that there were all of these reasons that she gave and, yet, there was this family and there is this special needs child. And she was condemned and ridiculed by, of course, a lot of the elite left-wing media.

INGRAHAM: You're not a member of the elite, left-wing media. Not you. Not you. Sally Quinn. No, no.

QUINN: But — but there was one thing she could have done that would have won everybody over, and she could have said, "Look, this is too hard on my family. I have this special needs child."

INGRAHAM: Who are you to dictate what she says? Maybe it's a lot of reasons.

QUINN: I'm not dictating. I'm saying this is what she could have said to have won people over. Special needs children are the lost children in this country.

INGRAHAM: So anyone who has a special needs child can't be — can't be in higher office or can't run for higher office or can't have an active professional life?

QUINN: No, I didn't say that. If she's leaving office, this is an incredible chance for her, an opportunity where she could help millions of people by saying, as her child said, "My child is ridiculed. It's only going to get worse." And special needs children have — they really don't have the resources, the access to education. They have, you know, the loneliness, all of the really hard stuff. She is an enormously powerful woman with huge amount of charisma.

INGRAHAM: But you know, I think — I think, Sally, though, the reason that people, you know, equate Sarah Palin with supporting special needs children is because she actually chose to have a special needs child.

QUINN: Lucky she...

INGRAHAM: She didn't abort her child. She knew it was going to be hard. And, you know, I've heard from so many special needs parents from across this country who say, "Look, I don't agree with her on everything, but I like the fact that she's out there. She's not hiding this child. She's not putting this child, you know, under wraps. This child is a part of their lives and an integral part of their lives. And she stands up for herself." For you to write this column, this blog, questioning her fitness as a mother, I found that to be — I found that to be shocking, actually.

QUINN: Well, I know that, when you have a special needs child, that child needs a lot more attention than most children. Now I'm just saying that she could be such an incredible role model for mothers. There isn't anyone out there right now speaking out for special needs children, and she hasn't done much speaking out for special needs children.

INGRAHAM: Now, you've also said that she has exploited her children. You also wrote that she's exploited her children. And I was listening to President Obama in Europe talking about Malia and Sasha running around the Kremlin in their trench coats, and they look like, you know, "Get Smart" and how funny it was. And then we have the vegetable garden at the White House. You have the swing set. You have the choice of Bo the dog. Do you think that President Obama, in any way, uses the popularity of his children to, you know, even make him, himself more popular? Don't politicians always do this?

QUINN: I think that, obviously, people want to know about other people's families. And I think that that's fine. And I — but I do think that there's a line. And I — and I must say that when Bristol Palin went on this tour for young women to talk about unwed mothers, she put herself, and her mother allowed her to put herself, in a position where she became a public figure and, therefore, fair game. And so then she was, naturally, criticized. And then Sarah Palin jumped in and said, "How can they criticize my child?" I think you really do need to know where to draw the line. I think that the Clintons were very careful about their children, and the Bushes were, too.

INGRAHAM: Sally, would you have written the same piece about a black, feminist, pro-choice, liberal governor? Would you be writing these things?

QUINN: Absolutely.

INGRAHAM: You would?


INGRAHAM: All right. I want to see that. I want to see that.

QUINN: You might well agree if I had written it about someone…

INGRAHAM: I don't think so. I think women have lots of reasons for doing things.

QUINN: I do, too.

INGRAHAM: Part family, part financial. That's pro choice, isn't it?

QUINN: You know, what I'm saying is Sarah Palin could do so much good.

INGRAHAM: She is doing. I would say she is doing a lot. She chose life. That's the main thing. She chose not to abort. That's the most profound statement of all.

QUINN: The most profound statement was that she had the choice to make that choice.

INGRAHAM: OK. Well, that's for the next debate.


INGRAHAM: Sally Quinn, great to see you.

QUINN: I'll see you later.

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