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Palin's Less Than Full-Throated Support From Fox News Colleagues

Reported by Ellen - January 17, 2011 -

Although the Fox News Sunday panel bent over backwards yesterday to sympathize with and "understand" Sarah Palin's feelings about being criticized for her inflammatory rhetoric toward the gravely wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, they were not exactly supportive of her video statement that has managed to engender even more controversy.

As the Fox News Sunday transcript indicates, host Chris Wallace framed the discussion by asking, "Was her video a mistake?"

Panelist Brit Hume spoke first and was reluctant to criticize her, though he was far from approving:

Well, you know, she's entitled to say it. And most of what she said I think was unexceptionable.

She gave them a phrase, her critics a phrase that -- the phrase "blood libel," which as Alan Dershowitz pointed out, is in common parlance meaning something other than what it historically has referred to. My sense about it is I didn't find anything particularly wrong with her video.

Mara Liasson said, "Well, I don't think it helped her... in any event, I'll I'm saying is it struck the wrong tone on a whole lot of levels, and I don't think it was necessary for her to do this."

Bill Kristol said he "very much" sympathized "with her being offended, really deeply and personally offended at the notion that within an hour of the shooting in Tucson, everyone starts to blame her. And then, of course, it turns out, as evident quite early on, that she had absolutely nothing to do with it. ...So, I mean, I very much sympathize with her anger. I think she genuinely was metaphorically wounded by these charges." But then came this exchange:

KRISTOL: Having said that, if you want to be a presidential candidate, you probably should let other people answer media critics, and you should deal with things that at a sort of presidential level. And it wasn't necessary, I think, for her to defend herself explicitly in an eight- minute video. She had plenty of people out there defending her against these unjust charges.

WALLACE: Do you think she -- to the degree that she has electoral political ambitions, do you think she hurt herself?

KRISTOL: A little bit. And I think it's part of a pattern, honestly, where she has been engaging -- I mean, I say it as a fellow person. I mean, she fights back against all her critics, but probably one of the things that you should do when you're either a governor or running for president is you should pick your fights a little more carefully.

Juan Williams said, "It just gave her opponents such an opportunity then to excoriate her, and brought in the whole business of the congresswoman being Jewish. I just thought it was just unnecessary and did not raise her stature."

Hume got the last word. Perhaps emboldened by his fellow panelists, Hume now said,

"The Sarah Palin problem really is a problem that she has, largely, I think, through no fault of her own, become kind of radioactive. And it does mean that when she is in a situation like this, where she is the focus of national attention, she must be extremely careful about how she reacts to it.

My sense about it is, of course, when you are going to produce a video, that that's a somewhat unusual way to go about things. And that also suggests that you took time. This wasn't an extemporaneous comment she made. So, I think, on balance, these things -- this doesn't help her because of the situation she is in, fairly or not."

As even her Fox News colleagues find her behavior less than praiseworthy, it's no surprise Palin chose the Hannity show to appear on tonight. My prediction is that, just as he did with ACORN videographer James O'Keefe, Sean Hannity will make a stab or two at some hard questions but he'll accept without challenge whatever answers Palin comes up with.