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Why pay the bigot when you can get the bile for free?

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  • Robert Sterling
    Please send as far and wide as possible. Thanks, Robert Sterling Editor, The Konformist http://www.konformist.com
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 4, 2007
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      Please send as far and wide as possible.

      Thanks,
      Robert Sterling
      Editor, The Konformist
      http://www.konformist.com

      http://mediamatters.org/items/200706300002?f=h_top

      Media Matters; by Jamison Foser
      Friday June 29, 2007

      Summary:

      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
      Muller.

      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
      team.

      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
      discourse.

      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
      assassination plot."

      Those comments prompted the Edwards campaign to denounce Coulter,
      and Elizabeth Edwards called into Hardball the next day to confront
      Coulter.

      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,
      column:

      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
      primary opponents.

      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
      a point:

      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
      sales.)

      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
      debater.

      [crosstalk]

      BUCHANAN: She's good --

      WALSH: You're a good debater.

      ABRAMS: [Congressional Quarterly columnist] Craig Crawford -- wait.
      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
      different term.

      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.
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