In a media atmosphere where mocking Sarah Palin is practically a national pastime, PBS has made the somewhat odd decision to launch an earnest, full-throated, and probably unnecessary defense of a totally benign and sedate Palin joke made by one of its contributors. Andy Borowitz, appearing on PBS's Need to Know, mocked Palin's recent use of the non-word "refudiate," joking, "Here's what you need to know about a Palin presidency. Her first official act will be to cancel the agreement between nouns and verbs. Next, she'll replace the English language with Palinese, a language known only to her." Here's the video:

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PBS ombudsman Michael Getler scrambled to respond when, as he says, "several people wrote to say they took offense." He reproduces six such emails, including one by Herb Myers who fumes, "The Need to Know broadcast shown about Sarah Palin was horrible for a public-owned system. No value to ridicule to discredit."

But Getler ultimately sides with PBS and agrees with the defense of Need to Know producer Shelley Lewis, who wrote, "Is a little joking about Ms. Palin's penchant for malaprops really such a big deal? Last week editorial cartoonist Steve Brodner was pretty tough on President Obama, and we heard plenty from Obama fans about how unfair we were, how rightwing we were, etc. We do try to have some fun at both sides' expense."