Appearing on MSNBC Thursday afternoon, Washington Post writer and founder of the paper’s On Faith blog, Sally Quinn, exclaimed of Sarah Palin: "Well, clearly, she has not put her family first...And these children have, it seems publicly, to have been exploited by her in a, I think, really unfortunate way."
Even anchor David Shuster, who on Wednesday declared that Palin had "no future" politically, questioned Quinn’s accusation: "Sally, the use of the word ‘exploited’ is pretty strong. Give us some specific examples that you think qualifies for that?" Quinn was happy to elaborate: "Well, you know, she brings them all to the convention, including Trig, the baby. She brings the pregnant daughter with the boyfriend who clearly didn't want to be there. She then travels around with the children, using them as sort of photo ops...she brings the children up when she needs them to shore up her own image."
Quinn even seemed to blame Palin for defending her family against David Letterman’s attacks: "It just seemed to me that the David Letterman situation where she whipped that up into a huge scene, bringing in her other daughter Willow and making a big – a big to-do about it when she could have just let it go."
During the 2008 campaign, Quinn appeared on the September 3 CBS Early Show to denounce Palin for deciding to run for vice president, claiming that the governor "has got to rethink her priorities."
Here is the full transcript of the exchange:
DAVID SHUSTER: Now to the bigger picture. Sarah Palin has 17 more days left as governor of Alaska. Besides campaigning with Governor Rick Perry, what else will she do and what does her political future hold? Joining us is Washington Post journalist Sally Quinn, she’s also the founder of "On Faith," the Washington Post and Newsweek magazine blog about faith and its impact on global life. Sally, you've been blogging a lot about Palin. Palin holds herself out as essentially putting her family first. What's your view?
SALLY QUINN: Well, clearly, she has not put her family first. In her departure statement she talked about wanting to concentrate more on issues of energy and national security and she said she wanted to put her state first and – and you keep wondering here's a woman who has, essentially, six children, because her child has a child. One of them a Down syndrome child and everyone knows that special needs children need a lot more attention than others. And these children have, it seems publicly, to have been exploited by her in a, I think, really unfortunate way. And yet she's been traveling so much, starting with the campaign, when she had this 3-month-old special needs child and continuing to travel and continuing to talk about the children publicly. That is-
SHUSTER: Sally, the use of the word ‘exploited’ is pretty strong. Give us some specific examples that you think qualifies for that?
QUINN: Well, you know, she brings them all to the convention, including Trig, the baby. She brings the pregnant daughter with the boyfriend who clearly didn't want to be there. She then travels around with the children, using them as sort of photo ops. She then, when Bristol Palin decided that she wanted to go on this tour, which I think was a very bad idea, a sort of campaign against teen pregnancy. Here's a child who really needs to stay out of the spotlight and take care of her own child, who has no father at this point. It just seemed to me that the David Letterman situation where she whipped that up into a huge scene, bringing in her other daughter Willow and making a big – a big to-do about it when she could have just let it go. It – she brings the children up when she needs them to shore up her own image and yet she isn't doing – I mean this is a woman who is a committed Christian, family values is everything. For her faith, often people believe women shouldn't even be working outside of the home. So my feeling is that if she were – put her money where her mouth is, that she would say, ‘look, I'm resigning because I want to spend more time with my family’-
HALL: But Sally-
QUINN: -and that's the first time anyone would ever have believed it.
TAMRON HALL: Sally, and you know, she – it's up to the Governor to defend herself, but here she is the breadwinner. I mean, if she's not working, her husband works as a fisherman. They do have to make money to support the family and she has the ability, obviously, to make more money than he does. And when you see the picture of them out fishing as a family, is it fair to question her family values as a working woman who has to support her family?
QUINN: Well, you know, I – her husband does work. It seems to me that she'll be making more money if she leaves the governor's office, but I would think that she would say, you know, she has this extraordinary opportunity now to do so much good with her personality and her charisma and her public image to say ‘I'm now going to focus on special needs children, I'm going do everything I can to make people aware of the problems not only with caring for special needs children, but education,’ she could have said that and she could have won everybody over. She could have just said ‘I'm leaving because of my family.’ She could’ve said, ‘I – we have got financial problems,’ which she did. ‘I'm going to be making more money writing books, I'm going to be able to stay home and spend more time with my children. I'm going to be devoted to now making people aware of special needs children and Down syndrome children.’ And I think people would have really admired her and applauded her for that instead of giving 100 different reasons and excuses for stepping down.
SHUSTER: Well Sally, it’s always a pleasure having you on. Very provocative and we appreciate you joining us this afternoon.
QUINN: Thank you.
SHUSTER: Sally Quinn, founder of ‘On Faith’ the Washington Post and Newsweek blog.