Palin defends 'blood libel' description: 'That's exactly what was going on'

In her first interview since accusing critics of manufacturing a "blood libel" by linking her political rhetoric to the Jan. 8 mass shooting in Arizona, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) defended her recent video response to critics, vowing she will not be silenced. 

Palin told Sean Hannity during an interview on Fox News that she was indeed the victim of a "blood libel" for suggestions that she influenced the alleged shooter, who killed at least six people and critically injured Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).  

"Blood libel obviously means being falsely accused of having blood on your hands, and in this case that's exactly what was going on," Palin said, adding that those who are citing the use of the term to further criticize her are simply looking for any reason to malign her response to the shooting. 

Palin employed the term in a video posted on her Facebook page on the same day as President Obama's speech in Tucson, Ariz. Her use of the term, which historically refers to an anti-Semitic myth that Jews used children's blood in religious rituals, spurred further controversy.  

As for the map posted on the website of Palin's political action committee — which employed a crosshairs symbol over the districts of 20 House Democrats targeted for November's midterm elections, including that of Giffords, and which is at the heart of the controversy — Palin said it had "absolutely nothing to do with an apolitical or perhaps even left-leaning criminal who killed these innocents and injured so many."

She called the suggestion that the target map could have played a role in inciting the violence "ridiculous," adding that use of such images in a campaign context isn't original. "Democrats have been using these for years," she said.

"My defense wasn't self-defense, it was defending those who were falsely accused," Palin said of her response, adding that in the hours after the shooting many other commentators on the right and "soon the entire state of Arizona was being falsely accused of somehow being accessories to this horrendous, horrendous crime."

Asked if the furor over political rhetoric and her response to the shooting could affect her political career, the rumored 2012 presidential hopeful said she would continue to speak out in an attempt to ensure that it does not. 

"So in a situation like we have just faced in these last eight days of being falsely accused of being an accessory to murder, I and others need to make sure that we, too, are shedding light on truth so that a lie cannot continue to live," Palin said. "Because if a lie does live, then of course your career is over, your reputation is thrashed and you will be ineffective in what it is you are trying to do."

"I'm not going to sit down. I'm not going to shut up," she said.

Palin also told Hannity that she continually receives death threats, as do her children.

"I receive a lot of death threats, my children do," said Palin. "That's the worst part of it, as you can imagine."

—Updated at 10:55 a.m.