Asked by host Megyn Kelly whether the photo constituted media bias or a "forgivable mistake," Palin responded, "Hell yeah it's media bias, and it's also some sexism, when you consider what the response to Mitt Romney's photo, which is degrading. ... And Associated Press, they're jerks for having run that, even with the caption -- I mean, absolute jerks and biased to have tried to taint some people's view of Mitt Romney by running this photo. It's embarrassing."
The photo, which shows Romney kneeling before a comically surprised student at a Virginia school, attracted widespread media attention soon after hitting the wires. Responding to conservatives who felt that the news agency had shown poor judgment, AP changed the photo's caption on Tuesday to explain what the photo depicted in detail, rather than leaving it open for interpretation.
Then, AP executive editor Kathleen Carroll issued an apology on Wednesday. It read, in part:
The original caption on the photo of Gov. Romney taken Monday at a Virginia school was literally correct -- it said the governor was posing for photos with schoolchildren. But it was too generic and missed the boat by not explaining exactly what was happening. The student with the surprised expression had just realized that the governor was going to crouch down in front of her for the group photo. We amended the caption on Tuesday with that explanation, but by then many people had seen the photo and were confused by or angry about it. Those generic captions help us process a large number of photos on a busy campaign day, but some photos demand more explanation and we fell short of our own standards by not providing it in this case.
Palin went on to contrast the way people reacted to the Romney photo with the reaction to pictures of voters "looking at my legs or up my skirt even" in 2008, when she was the Republican vice presidential candidate. She called the difference "kind of a telltale sign of some little bit of sexism in our society."