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CNN's Carol Costello Should Ignore Those Demanding an On-Air Apology To the Palin Family

If you find yourself bored today, just head over to Twitter and search "Carol Costello" -- then sit back and let the outraged conservative arm-flailing roll over you like that giant wave in the Interstellar trailer.
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If you find yourself bored today, just head over to Twitter and search "Carol Costello" -- then sit back and let the outraged conservative arm-flailing roll over you like that giant wave in the Interstellar trailer.

Since last week, Costello's been squarely in the sights of both the right-wing media and the traditionalist chin-strokers who espouse the proverbial view-from-nowhere. This is all thanks to recent comments she made while setting up new police audio of the Palin family's drunken brawl at a party last September. I wrote a little about this on Friday, but in a nutshell what happened was Costello basically mocked the Palins by calling the clip of Bristol Palin tearfully going off the night of the fight, "quite possibly the best minute and a half of audio we’ve ever come across." This drew a quick scolding from establishment media centrists like The Washington Post's Erik Wemple and CNN's own Brian Stelter, both of whom found the crack beneath Costello's typical high standards. But from the usual suspects on the right, you couldn't have sliced through the indignation with a laser cutter.

Acutely attuned to any opportunity to paint herself as a victim, it took no time at all for Bristol Palin to turn her personal blog into a self-righteous screed against Carol Costello's alleged insensitivity and hypocrisy. (Full disclosure: I worked closely with Carol Costello at CNN.) She railed against Costello and the "liberal media" in general for engaging in what she claimed was a real "war on women." By last Thursday, Costello had indeed delivered an unequivocal apology for her flippant off-hand comment, but given that the apology turned up in Politico and wasn't delivered officially to Bristol and the rest of the Palin family on-air, it of course wasn't good enough. And so here we are now, with professional assholes like John Nolte and Ed Morrissey -- as well as the conservative Twitterati -- losing their minds because they don't feel like the Palin family has been shown proper deference. They spent all weekend demanding that Costello issue a formal mea culpa today, on the air. Costello did no such thing. Predictably, they're now calling for CNN to fire her.

The fact that Costello hasn't given in -- at least not yet anyway -- is a good sign. Let me make this clear: there is absolutely no reason for her to apologize on-air for what she said about the Bristol Palin audio. As I said Friday, maybe from a professional standpoint -- as an anchor on a major news network -- it was a little over the line and required a retraction followed by a quick, "Sorry," but Costello already did as much. What the conservative entertainment complex is demanding in addition to that has little to do with justice or journalistic ethics and everything to do with claiming a scalp. The Palins and their partisan enablers subsist almost entirely on a diet of victimhood and there isn't an apology on earth sincere enough or delivered on a large enough platform to satisfy them. Costello can say she's sorry until she's blue in the face -- CNN could put her in stocks in the middle of Columbus Circle and let Donald Trump throw tomatoes at her head -- and under no circumstances would it convince the right's outraged shock troops that CNN was anything but a tool of liberal elitists and therefore the enemy.

Beyond that, there are the other considerations I alluded to on Friday -- namely that by every account but their own, the Palins rolled into that party back in September in their Hummer limo drunk off their asses and ready to start trouble. Bristol isn't a victim here, she's a spoiled child who tried to throw her family's weight around and who, along with her brother Track, took the first swings. Again, though, regardless of that, the reason Carol Costello did the verbal equivalent of shaking her head at the whole stupid scene rather than clutching her pearls at the notion of a young woman being the alleged victim of violence is that the Palins have rendered themselves little more than a joke. They're not the family of a former candidate for Vice President of the United States -- they're a bunch of white trash idiots throwing chairs, or getting chairs thrown at them, on Jerry Springer.

Carol Costello doesn't owe them or their conservative media proxies a damn thing.

(Correction: Originally I threw Mediaite's Joe Concha in with those calling for Costello to be fired. Stupid mistake on my part as Concha really only suggested that Costello apologize on-air to end the controversy. My very ironic apologies.)