Jan. 17, 2011 -- Sarah Palin says that people on the left hate her message and will "do what they can to destroy the message and messenger," even as she insists that she will not be "sat down and shut up."
In her first interview since the shootings in Arizona, Palin spoke tonight with conservative commentator Sean Hannity on Fox News, where she is also a paid contributor.
A subdued, prayerful and somewhat somber Palin discussed the shooting and its aftermath, saying, "we mourn with those who mourn and grieve with those who grieve."
But the former Alaska governor ardently defended her statements from both before and after the deadly rampage. She insisted that the map her political action committee used last year to place Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' district in crosshairs was hardly original political imagery.
"Democrats have been using it for years," she said, adding that she had been "falsely accused of being accessory to murder."
The criticism from the left and some in the media was politically motivated, she said. "Those on the left hate my message and will do all that they can to stop me," she said.
She said that some of the continued focus on her after the shootings was meant to derail Republican action in Washington and "divert and distract from issues at hand that must be addressed today."
Palin seemed most irate over the notion that her reaction to the shootings has been insensitive. "The Most frustrating part," she told Hannity, "is the idea that we have interjected ourselves into this story."
Palin justified her video statement on Facebook last week saying, "My defense wasn't self-defense, it was defending those who were falsely accused."
And several times during the interview she made a point of saying, "This isn't about me." Quoting the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., she said she is speaking out because "a lie cannot live."
That language might be designed to counter souring public opinion. According to a a new ABC News-Washington Post poll, out tonight, only 30 percent of Americans approve of the way Palin responded to the Tucson shootings, compared with 78 percent for President Obama. And 46 percent of those polled disapprove of Palin's response, including 32 percent that say they "strongly disapprove."
Perhaps more troubling for the Palin team, fewer than half of Republicans say they approve of her response (48 percent).
The more controversial part of her Facebook posting last week was the use of the phrase "blood libel." She said: "Journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn."
Blood libel is a term that, in the past, referred to the false claim that Jews used the blood of Christian children for rituals. Palin insisted she was well aware of the historical significance of the statement, but said that in this case it represented "being falsely accused of having blood on your hands."
As for the current political tone, Palin offered that "certainly, I agree with the idea of being civil," and gave some praise to the president's speech in Tucson last week, saying "there were parts of it that really hit home for her."
But she criticized the setting, saying the atmosphere was "unfortunate" and felt like a pep rally or campaign stop.
Palin faced a supportive questioner in Hannity, who noted that several threats have been made against Palin and her family, and that plenty of people have attacked the former governor verbally over the years.
"I don't think a lot of people on the left have been very civil toward you," he said.
Palin agreed, saying that "people on left, if they didn't have double standards, they would have no standards."
Palin again dodged questions about whether she would run for president, but said, "I am going to continue to speak out. They are not going to shut me up. … I'll take the darts and the arrows because I know others have my back, and I have their back."
Sean Hannity Defends Sarah Palin
Palin turned to a friendly face tonight, as she tried to counter widespread disapproval of her response to the Arizona shootings.
Read more about the latest ABC News - Washington Post poll here.
Hannity, a conservative commentator, has been a vocal defender of Palin in the past, as well as in the days after the deadly rampage. He said on "Fox & Friends" this morning that the notion that Palin's rhetoric and much-discussed crosshairs on Rep. Gabrielle Gifford's district were in any way responsible for the shootings was "absurd on the face of it."
Indeed, law enforcement has found no connection between Palin, or her politics, and the shootings.
Hannity suggested that Palin has been flat-out treated unfairly. "I don't think there has been any one public official that has been as brutally criticized as Gov. Palin," he said.
And he noted that Palin herself has suffered a great deal since the shootings. "A lot of people want to hear about what she is feeling, what she has been through," he said, adding that a number of death threats have been made against her.
Palin's first response to the Tucson events was a message on Facebook on the day of the shootings, offering her "sincere condolences." But it was her second Facebook posting that raised eyebrows.