Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) is firing back at reports she was criticizing conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh this week for using the word "retard."

Palin had initially railed on White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel for that offense this week, charging Emanuel should have resigned following his error. But when asked whether that standard of criticism should also apply to Limbaugh -- who somewhat defended Emanuel and repeated the word on his radio show Wednesday -- Palin's camp seemed unsure of its response.

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The confusion began after Greg Sargent, the blogger for The Plum Line, e-mailed communications chief Meg Stapelton earlier this week, asking for her camp's reaction to Limbaugh's language.

Stapleton promptly replied by e-mail: “Governor Palin believes crude and demeaning name calling at the expense of others is disrespectful,” she wrote

Sargent later published it, depicting the line as a cue that Palin -- who has a son with Down syndrome -- was now at odds with the radio commentator, who has long supported her political career.

But Stapleton on Friday insisted Sargent and others have completely misread her statement.

She told reporters Palin's comment did not target Limbaugh directly, but instead was a response to all lawmakers and public officials who use the word "retard" pejoratively. Stapleton also accused Sargent of trying to create controversy in order to take "pressure" off of the White House.