Sarah Palin Spokesperson: Targets On Map Were “Surveyor’s Symbols”

As the media continues to focus on political rhetoric in general, and Sarah Palin’s “targeted districts” map in particular, it’s understandable that the Palin camp would want to distance themselves from the debate as much as possible, but this response strikes me as rather silly:

A Palin staffer, Rebecca Mansour told a radio talk show host Saturday that doing so is “obscene” and “appalling.” In fact, she said that the “target list” was not intended to allude to guns.

“We never ever, ever intended it to be gun sights,” she said.

“It’s surveyor’s symbols,” the interviewer Tammy Bruce suggested. Bruce, a Palin supporter, describes herself as “a gay, pro-choice, gun owning, pro-death penalty, Tea Party Independent Conservative. ” Her show is promoted as a “chick with a gun and a microphone.”

You can listen to the whole podcast, but here’s the relevant quote:

MANSOUR: I just want to clarify again, and maybe it wasn’t done on the record enough by us when this came out, the graphic, is just, it’s basically — we never, ever, ever intended it to be gunsights. It was simply crosshairs like you see on maps.

BRUCE: Well, it’s a surveyor’s symbol. It’s a surveyor’s symbol.

MANSOUR: It’s a surveyor’s symbol. I just want to say this, Tammy, if I can. This graphic was done, not even done in house — we had a political graphics professional who did this for us.

As David Weigel notes, this is just beyond stupid. I happen to think that Palin has been unfairly attacked for this graphic over the past 24 hours, and those of you who’ve read what I’ve written about Sarah Palin know that I’m no fan of hers to say the least. However, the only thing a reaction like this does is reinforce the meme being pushed by those who say that she owes some kind of apology for a political ad that, as James Joyner noted this morning, merely mimics ones that we’ve seen from other groups in the past. It would have been better to just stay silent, but that doesn’t seem to be possible for the Palin camp.

They’ve played right into the hands of their opponents on this one, I think.

FILED UNDER: US Politics, , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Why can’t people be honest? Just admit that they were metaphorical crosshairs about winning elections that obviously look horrible in retrospect.

  2. MarkedMan says:

    This might be the remark that finally does her in. Frankly, this comment doesn’t pass the laugh test. That’s a bad place for an icon to be.

  3. Dave says:

    One thing I think OTB is missing here is Palin’s “don’t retreat, reload” language, which she used in a tweet directing people to the crosshairs map. She was clearly going all out with an armed-resistence metaphor, one that, while not responsible for what happened yesterday, is nevertheless is extremely poor taste, certainly in retrospect.

  4. Gustopher says:

    Holy F*cking Thundercats! That is staggeringly stupid. I have always thought she was a bit on the stupid side herself, but she has managed to surround herself with people who are even stupider than herself (or I need to revise my estimate of her stupidity)

    Now, in addition to needing to apologize the the victims for the unfortunate imagery, she needs to apologize to everyone else for insulting our intelligence.

  5. Neil Hudelson says:


    Does her in? “Surveyors Symbols!” will become a rallying cry to her fans as an example of how the world mistreats her.

    That said, and since I haven’t really commented on the whole affair (better to be thought a fool…), while her response here is idiotic, this graphic bears no causation to what happened yesterday.

  6. Gustopher says:

    Atheist Hater, it is cute that you cannot distinguish between the Vice Presidential candidate for a major political party, and a blogger. By virtue of Palin’s position, she should be held to a higher standard.

    And, bulls eyes are not the same as gun sites.

    But, nice try with your false equivalencies.

  7. Michael says:

    Why can’t people be honest? Just admit that they were metaphorical crosshairs about winning elections that obviously look horrible in retrospect.

    Does that mean we’re allowed to start talking about the political aspects of it now? Or should we keep pretending that they aren’t actually horrible because other people did similar things and besides the guy was a nutcase anyway?

  8. Jay Tea says:

    Especially given the scale of the map, I’d say they look more like bomb sights than rifle sights.

    Actually, the more I look at them, they look more like missile targets — a novel I once read used similar markings on a map to show places that had been hit by nuclear missiles. (Eric Harry’s “Arc Light.”)


  9. MyWrites says:

    Even the “surveyors’ symbols” is a dishonest distortion. These are are graphic arts alignment symbols commonly used in 3 and 4 color printing. This is merely the fall back rationale should someone criticize her for using rifle scope cross hairs. The “surveyors’ symbols” equates to “we are only interested in voters and election issues in particular locations” as if this were ONLY a geographical concern.

    Dave is absolutely correct about Palin’s “don’t retreat, reload” allusions and “targeted” races analogies, not much different from Sharron Angle’s “2nd Amendment solutions”. We have been warning about the dangers of this Tea Bagger gun culture rhetoric. And now so many dead. This is irresponsible language, potentially dangerous and we said that, not in retrospect, but long before this occurred.

    Atheist Hater – you have the same problem as your “name” implies. Way too much hate in this nation. Show a little Christian love?

  10. Jesus Christ says:

    Dear Athiest Hater,

    Shut up already. I never preached hate. You are not a Christiam

    J. H. Christ.

  11. kneesus says:

    Don’t retreat, reload…your surveying equipment.

  12. Rick Almeida says:

    One of the things I hate most about our contemporary political reality is the impossibility of admitting error. This is a perfect opportunity for mature, responsible pols to say, “In hindsight, graphics like these are not good choices. We won’t use them again.”

  13. An Interested Party says:

    “Remember months ago ‘bullseye’ icon used 2 target the 20 Obamacare-lovin’ incumbent seats? We won 18 out of 20 (90% success rate;T’aint bad)”

  14. MyWrites says:

    Well Interested Party maybe you can now make it 19, one more from assassination. Guess that’s part of your bag of dirty political tricks? This is what happens when you guys foment hate and fear. And please don’t try to equate any of what you uber-cons do to the kind of speech liberals use. You guys own this one and I hope the rest of America comes to despise you for it. The Angles, Bachmans, Becks and Palins of this country are toxic and dangerous. These folk are the destructive imams of contemporary America.

  15. An Interested Party says:

    I am not making it anything…those were Sarah Palin’s words, not mine…

  16. Ronin says:

    You’re right.

    It would have been better for the Palin camp to stay silent on the gunsight graphic issue.

    It clearly IS a gunsight as they themselves previously admitted proudly.

    If you have ever seen a survey you’d know it looks nothing like a surveyor symbol.

    Palin just looks desperate and dishonest by claiming now that the gunsight symbol was not a gunsight.

  17. Agnostic says:

    Athiest Hater, The 1st thing I must say to you is learn how to spell. This is the correct spelling: Atheist. Since ignorance is bliss to you and you defend these godless right-wing nuts, I have to believe that you are just as godless and evil as they are. Learn how to spell and you might get a little more credibility!!!! Somebody needs to pray for you!!

  18. Cogito says:

    Palin can try to backtrack all she want to, but the fact is, you don’t “target” people with, nor do you “reload” a surveying instrument. Spin, Baby, Spin!
    @Athiest hater, besides the obvious need for a dictionary, what happened to one of the most basic tenets of what you proclaim to preach… ‘love thy neighbor”? People like you give religion a bad name.