“Over the past few days I have been roundly criticized for joking about a brawl involving the Palin family. In retrospect, I deserve such criticism and would like to apologize,” Costello said in an email sent by CNN to The Hollywood Reporter.
Insiders, though, say the anchor has not reached out directly to the Palin family.
The criticism was over Costello’s introduction and follow-up comments to audio of Bristol Palin describing a brawl that broke out while her family attended a birthday party a month ago. Costello’s report Wednesday was made timely by the recent release of the audio from Bristol Palin’s police interview the night of the fight.
“Okay, I’m just going to come right out and say it. This is quite possibly the best minute-and-a-half of audio we’ve ever come across,” Costello says while introducing the segment. She also said, “Sit back and enjoy,” and after the clip, said: “You can thank me later.” See the video below.
“Some guy gets in my face, pushes me down on the grass, drags me across the grass,” an obviously distraught Bristol Palin tells a cop in the audio clip. “I get back up and he pushes me down on the grass again and pulls me by the [expletive] feet.”
The political right’s reaction to the way Costello framed her report was harsh and swift.
Bristol Palin also weighed in, writing: “Here’s the thing. Violence against women is never okay… Even if that violence occurs against conservative women. Imagine for a second the outrage that would happen if Chelsea Clinton had gotten pushed by some guy. Had she tried to defend herself, the liberal media would’ve held her up as some feminist hero.”
Bristol Palin, in fact, gives her version of the entire brawl, which she says began when one of the guests at the party tweeted, “about to get famous,” then slugged a family friend of the Palins at the party.
Costello’s report, though, is just the latest in a long line of complaints from conservatives about how the fight has been portrayed in the media, beginning with a blogger who acknowledged that her details were “sketchy” before belittling the Palins.
It was also widely reported that, once Sarah Palin’s husband, Todd, and son Track got involved in the fight, with several adversaries piling onto Track, Sarah Palin shouted, “Don’t you know who I am?” Sarah Palin, though, says she actually shouted: “Don’t you know who he is? He’s a vet!”
The discrepancy has been widely noted in conservative media. “Why would we expect the media to wait for facts before the frenzy?” asked John Nolte at Breitbart.com in an article linking to early reports about the fight from CNN, ABC News, Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight and The Washington Post. “I guess you could argue that the media frenzy would be legitimate if the story had been confirmed. But all this emanated from an anti-Palin gossip blogger who admitted she didn’t care about the truth and had no desire to discover the truth.”