Why pay the bigot when you can get the bile for free?
- Please send as far and wide as possible.
Editor, The Konformist
Media Matters; by Jamison Foser
Friday June 29, 2007
Why pay the bigot when you can get the bile for free?
In 1996, MSNBC hired Ann Coulter as a contributor. The Washington
Post later quoted an MSNBC official describing Coulter's
performance: "What she said was so outrageous she was immediately
put on probation, and the next one was even worse." Coulter has
acknowledged: "They kept firing me, but then they'd rehire me."
Coulter barely lasted a year before MSNBC fired her for good for on-
air comments she made to Vietnam Veterans of America founder Bobby
In 2003, less than five months after it began broadcasting his show,
MSNBC fired Michael Savage for telling a caller he should "get AIDS
and die." An MSNBC spokesperson explained: "Savage made an extremely
inappropriate comment and the decision to cancel the program was not
difficult." Just a few months earlier, then-NBC chairman Bob Wright
had declared: "We strongly defend his new show as a legitimate
attempt to expand the marketplace of ideas."
Earlier this year, MSNBC fired Don Imus after he made racist and
sexist comments about the Rutgers University women's basketball
It may be tempting to conclude that, despite the ridiculous
decisions to hire the likes of Coulter and Savage in the first
place, the firings indicate that MSNBC understands that their
violent and hateful rhetoric adds nothing of value to the public
But maybe MSNBC has simply decided that it doesn't make much sense
to pay the bigot when you can get the bile for free.
On Tuesday, for example, MSNBC's Hardball featured Ann Coulter as
the sole guest for the entire hour. MSNBC continues to provide a
platform for Coulter's hate; the network's just stopped paying her.
During Coulter's last appearance on Hardball, in July 2006, host
Chris Matthews told her, "You write beautifully," and, "You have a
brilliant brain." He described her as "the picture of heaven." Then
Coulter called former Vice President Al Gore a "total fag," and
Matthews ended the interview by saying of Coulter, "We'd love to
have her back."
Earlier this year, Coulter called Democratic presidential candidate
John Edwards a "faggot" during a speech to the Conservative
Political Action Conference (CPAC). During an appearance on CNN
Headline News' Glenn Beck this week, Coulter defended that comment,
claiming, "I wasn't saying it on TV. I was saying it at a right-wing
political convention with 7,000 college Republicans. I didn't put it
on TV." Like much of what Coulter says, this wasn't true, and
wouldn't be particularly meaningful even if it was. Coulter's speech
was broadcast on C-SPAN, which extensively covers CPAC speeches.
(Host Glenn Beck didn't point out Coulter's lie; nor did he point
out that she used the same epithet to describe Gore "on TV.")
During her Monday appearance on ABC's Good Morning America, Coulter
responded to a question about her CPAC description of Edwards as
a "faggot" by saying, "Bill Maher was not joking and saying he
wished Dick Cheney had been killed in a terrorist attack. So I've
learned my lesson. If I'm gonna say anything about John Edwards in
the future, I'll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist
Those comments prompted the Edwards campaign to denounce Coulter,
and Elizabeth Edwards called into Hardball the next day to confront
Coulter and her defenders have criticized the Edwards campaign for
omitting the Maher portion of her comments about wishing Edwards was
killed by terrorists, claiming that her comments were taken out of
context. But the context she claims is missing is itself false.
Coulter misrepresented Maher's comments about Cheney. In fact, Maher
didn't say he wished Cheney had been killed; he said "if Dick Cheney
was not in power, people wouldn't be dying needlessly tomorrow. ...
I'm just saying that if he did die -- other people -- more people
would live. That's a fact."
During the March 5 broadcast of his show, MSNBC host and former
Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough (FL) debunked his fellow
conservatives' attacks on Maher: "Conservatives accuse Bill Maher of
calling for Dick Cheney's assassination, but he didn't, and I should
know. I was there." But Scarborough didn't correct Coulter when she
appeared on Morning Joe, even though he and Coulter did discuss her
reference to Maher.
During that same appearance on Morning Joe, Coulter falsely accused
Elizabeth Edwards of lying about Coulter's November 19, 2003,
SCARBOROUGH: Now, I will tell you the part of that Elizabeth Edwards
interview that jarred the most people -- jarred me, jarred just
about everybody I spoke with -- was the part where she brought up
the fact -- she said that you had written some column where you had
made light of John Edwards' dead son. What's the story behind that?
COULTER: Needless to say, that is not true. And coming from people
who have done what we have just seen them do in the earlier segment,
I don't think they deserve a lot of credibility on this. You can
look it up. It's all over the Web. It's a fabulous column,
titled "The Party of Ideas," written in 2003. I had to go back and
get the full gist of the column. It was about all of the Democratic
In the column in question, Coulter wrote of John Edwards: "If you
want points for not using your son's death politically, don't you
have to take down all those 'Ask me about my son's death in a
horrific car accident' bumper stickers?"
Again, Scarborough did not challenge Coulter or confront her with
what she had actually written; he simply accepted her assertion that
Elizabeth Edwards had lied about the column.
On Thursday, MSNBC Live host Chris Jansing asked Elizabeth
Edwards, "There are people who support your opinion, I'm sure you
know, who say, 'Why even dignify it with a response? Why give Ann
Coulter more publicity?' "
That same day, Jansing's network gave Ann Coulter publicity by
hosting her on Morning Joe. Two days earlier, Jansing's network had
given Ann Coulter publicity by hosting her -- alone, for a full
hour -- on Hardball.
This week alone, Coulter appeared on ABC's Good Morning America,
MSNBC's Hardball, MSNBC's Morning Joe, CNN Headline News' Glenn
Beck, and Fox News' Hannity & Colmes. (On Fox, she took a swipe at
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama: "I do think anyone
named B. Hussein Obama should avoid using 'hijack' and 'religion' in
the same sentence.")
The notion that the targets of Ann Coulter's hateful speech should
ignore her and she'll go away is absurd. Coulter was booked on Good
Morning America and Hardball long before Elizabeth Edwards
confronted her. Time magazine put Coulter on its cover long before
Elizabeth Edwards confronted her. NBC's Today hosted her --
repeatedly -- long before Elizabeth Edwards confronted her.
It isn't Elizabeth Edwards who gives Ann Coulter publicity. It is
the nation's leading news organizations. They may claim to find her
distasteful, but they keep promoting her.
And they not only provide a forum for her hate speech and let her
lie and dissemble without consequence, they repeat her false attacks
on progressives as though they are true.
On Today, for example, David Gregory pretended that Ann Coulter has
GREGORY: You said rather pointedly that you think Ann Coulter is
guilty of hate speech against your husband and others as well. If
you strip away some of the inflammatory rhetoric against your
husband and other Democrats, the point she's trying to make about
your husband, Senator Edwards, running for the White House is in
effect that he's disingenuous, especially on the signature issue of
poverty, whether it's a $400 haircut or taking big money to speak in
front of a poverty group. If you, again, strip away the inflammatory
rhetoric, is that a real point of vulnerability that you have to
deal with in this campaign?
This is complete and total bunk.
There's simply no reason to pretend that Ann Coulter calling John
Edwards a "faggot" and musing about him being killed by terrorists
is about anything other than Ann Coulter being a contemptible human
being and a national disgrace. There's no deep point there; she's
just a sad and pathetic little person.
But that isn't all: Gregory made the nonsensical suggestion that
John Edwards is "disingenuous" about poverty because he paid a lot
of money for a haircut. It doesn't matter how often pundits keep
saying that, it's still dumb. Gregory's statement that Edwards
took "big money to speak in front of a poverty group" repeated
Coulter's own false claim that he "charge[d] a poverty group $50,000
for a speech." This falsehood is apparently a reference to a paid
speech Edwards made at the University of California-Davis, not "in
front of a poverty group." So, obviously, he didn't "charge a
poverty group" (in fact, his speaking fee was offset by ticket
Ann Coulter is not only a remarkably unpleasant person, she's a
serial liar. And yet NBC's David Gregory -- among other journalists -
- pretends that she has a meaningful point and makes false
assertions about progressives based on her lies.
That's why it would be folly for progressives to ignore Coulter in
hopes that she goes away: because the media don't ignore her. They
promote her. They parrot her false claims. It's also why
progressives should not only denounce Coulter, but MSNBC and ABC and
CNN and Time and every other news organization that gives her a
platform and doesn't challenge her lies and repeats them as though
they are true.
During the Wednesday edition of Scarborough Country, MSNBC viewers
got a hit of another reason why it would be folly to let Ann
Coulter's hate and lies go unchallenged. An MSNBC contributor said
of Coulter: "I don't think she's peddling hate. And if she -- and
MSNBC certainly doesn't ... because if they did, they would never
put her on the air for an hour, would we, Dan?"
The MSNBC contributor? Pat Buchanan.
The same Pat Buchanan who called Martin Luther King Jr. "one of the
most divisive men in contemporary history."
The same Pat Buchanan who called Adolf Hitler "an individual of
great courage" and wrote a column questioning whether World War II
was "worth it" and wondered, "[W]hy destroy Hitler?"
There was Pat Buchanan, paid contributor to MSNBC, repeatedly
vouching for Ann Coulter:
JOAN WALSH (Salon.com editor in chief): Ann Coulter had a whole hour
to herself on Hardball, and she was going to sell her books and
peddle her hate on Hardball pretty much unchallenged.
BUCHANAN: Joan, let me tell you where you're wrong here.
WALSH: Yes, Pat, sure.
BUCHANAN: I don't think she's peddling hate. And if she -- and MSNBC
certainly doesn't --
WALSH: "Faggot"? "Faggot"?
BUCHANAN: -- because if they did, they would never put her on the
air for an hour, would we, Dan?
WALSH: Well, she wasn't on for quite a while after she called --
DAN ABRAMS (MSNBC general manager): Oh, come on, Pat. Come on.
BUCHANAN: Well, come on! I mean --
WALSH: -- after she called Al Gore a "total fag."
ABRAMS: Pat is misusing his MSNBC analyst moniker there.
WALSH: Thank you, Dan.
ABRAMS: Go ahead, Pat.
BUCHANAN: Look, she is very, very -- look, she's a very good
debater, and she's very good on TV and good on her feet, and she's a
conservative, and she's an excellent writer. [New York Times
columnist] Maureen Dowd's an excellent friend on the other side.
WALSH: No. No, Pat. You're -- Pat, you know what? You're a good
BUCHANAN: She's good --
WALSH: You're a good debater.
ABRAMS: [Congressional Quarterly columnist] Craig Crawford -- wait.
WALSH: She peddles hate.
ABRAMS: Let's at least admit something, Craig Crawford.
BUCHANAN: Oh, cut it out.
WALSH: No, seriously.
ABRAMS: But that glosses over -- hang on. Hang on a second. That
glosses over -- Pat. Pat, what you're doing is you're cherry-picking
the pure politics stuff out of what she says and ignoring the sort
of unnecessary hateful words that she uses, as well.
BUCHANAN: What hateful word did she use?
ABRAMS: You know, she described him as a gay person, but using a
BUCHANAN: A what? Oh, you mean, that thing?
Pat Buchanan hasn't suffered from his own history of inflammatory
comments: He has repeatedly been hired to host television shows on
CNN and MSNBC; he currently works as a contributor to MSNBC, where
he defends Coulter from charges that she peddles hate.
If people look the other way when Ann Coulter lies and smears and
insults, it will only be a matter of time before Coulter will have
her own cable television perch from which she can defend the next
generation of right-wing hate merchants.