“Peaceful dissent and discussion about ideas, that is what makes America exceptional,” Ms. Palin said in a prime-time appearance on the Fox News Channel. “We won’t allow that to be stifled by a tragic event in Arizona.”
Ms. Palin, a former Alaska governor, said that she had not yet decided what course her political future would take, but declared: “I’m not going to sit down. I’m not going to shut up.”
Sarah Palin was interviewed by Sean Hannity, a Fox host, on Monday.In her first television interview since the Arizona shooting, Ms. Palin defended using the term “blood libel” to describe what she perceived as a rush to judgment by her critics for drawing a link between heated political rhetoric and the shooting that killed six people and wounded 14, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords. She dismissed suggestions that she did not know the historical significance of the phrase.
“Blood libel obviously means being falsely accused of having blood on your hands and in this case,” Ms. Palin said, “that’s exactly what was going on.”
The 30-minute interview with Sean Hannity, a Fox host, came five days after Ms. Palin was criticized by Democrats and several Republicans for a video message she released in the wake of the Arizona shooting rampage. Her tone was conciliatory throughout the interview, and she repeatedly pointed out that she was not attempting to engage in an act of political self-defense.
“This isn’t about me,” Ms. Palin said, speaking from a television studio in her home in Wasilla, Alaska. “My defense wasn’t self-defense, it was defending those who were falsely accused.”
Ms. Palin expressed her condolences to the victims of the shooting. She recited a Bible verse from the Book of Jeremiah, asking that God touch and comfort the families. She acknowledged that she and her family receives death threats, but she offered no specific details.
Ms. Palin, who is a paid Fox analyst, has been uncharacteristically quiet since the shooting. Several Republicans had urged Ms. Palin to come forward and join the national conversation over political civility that has been underway for more than a week.
In the midterm elections last year, Ms. Palin used a map with cross hairs over several swing Congressional districts, which Ms. Giffords, whose district was among those singled out, highlighted at the time as an example of overheated political speech. Ms. Palin has rejected suggestions that the map played any role in the shooting. The authorities have found no connection between vitriolic political rhetoric and the motive of the gunman.
As the field of potential 2012 Republican presidential contenders begins taking shape, Ms. Palin has given few signals about whether she intends to enter the race. Republican officials in early primary states say that Ms. Palin is one of the few prospective candidates who has not inquired – even privately – about scheduling a political visit.
Ms. Palin is scheduled to deliver a keynote speech on Jan. 29 at a Safari Club hunting convention on Jan. 29.
The television appearance on Monday evening provided a friendly venue for Ms. Palin to address the criticism that erupted in the last week. As the interview drew to a close, Mr. Hannity asked Ms. Palin whether the controversy had caused long-term damage to her political career.
“In a situation like we have just faced in these last eight days of being falsely accused of being an accessory to murder, I and others need make sure that we too are shedding light on truth so a lie cannot continue to live,” Ms. Palin said. “If a lie does live, then of course your career is over and your reputation is thrashed and you will be ineffective in what we intend to do.”.