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Not Offensive Enough

WorldNetDaily restores the crack about Helen Thomas being an "old Arab" to an Ann Coulter column. But wait -- don't Thomas and WND's Joseph Farah share the same heritage?

By Terry Krepel
Posted 3/10/2005

Question: How extreme does Ann Coulter have to get to offend WorldNetDaily and its editor, Joseph Farah?

Answer: We don't know. WND and Farah have never been offended by anything Coulter has said or written, apparently. But given that WND felt the need to ratchet up the controversy level of a recent Coulter column, that threshold must be incredibly high.

Coulter’s Feb. 23 column originally referred to longtime reporter and columnist Helen Thomas as an "old Arab," and the version of the column on Coulter's web site includes that phrase. But when her distributor, Universal Press Syndicate, sent the column out to its clients -- including WND -- it changed the reference to "that dyspeptic, old Helen Thomas." (This led to a minor flareup with the syndicate that resulted in Coulter agreeing to take Universal's copyright off columns she posts on her web site that differ from the syndicated version.)

WND decided its version of the column needed to be restored to the author’s intentions, no matter how questionable, so while 26 senators have written to Coulter's syndicate demanding an apology for the remark, WND restored the "old Arab" reference, proclaiming on its March 9 front page that it was "Coulter’s original, unsanitized column." An editor's note at the top of the column reads: "This column by Ann Coulter first ran on Feb. 23, and has since been modified to reflect Ann Coulter's original words rather the [sic] edited version distributed by Universal [Press] Syndicate."

WND and Farah have long been tight with Coulter. She was the very first guest on Farah's radio show when he originally took over the slot that had belonged to Oliver North in 2003. Farah thought so much of Coulter's visit -- he called her "one of my heroes" -- that he reprinted a transcript of it at WND.

WND started running Coulter's column in October 2001 while other outlets were dropping her following her infamous post-9/11 remark about Muslims that the U.S. "should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity"; in fact, WND has a special arrangement in which "Coulter's column will appear every Wednesday afternoon in WorldNetDaily -- before it appears anywhere else on the Internet or in print." In a November 2001 column, Farah even defended Coulter’s remark: "I must say her proposal makes far more sense than does an attempt to convert the Islamic world into just another materialistic market of degenerate, amoral voyeurs." Coulter has also contributed to WND's Whistleblower magazine.

There are some commerce-related links between them as well. Coulter’s books and the Ann Coulter action figure have been sold in WND's store, which is currently selling the Coulter-promoting film, "Is It True What They Say About Ann?" And when WND Books published its first title in 2002, Katherine Harris' apparently ghostwritten "Center of the Storm," Farah retained the same PR agency to plug the book that had recently represented a Coulter tome.

Farah and WND have yet to take public offense to anything Coulter has said or written -- even when she advocated the killing of journalists. (Then again, advocating the killing of people is one thing he has in common with Coulter.)

How blind is their support of Coulter? Farah has to overlook his own heritage to do it. Like Farah, Helen Thomas is of Lebanese descent, so Coulter’s "old Arab" insult falls on him, too.

So again, we ask: Since insulting his heritage and advocating murder don't seem to trip his trigger, how extreme does Ann Coulter have to get to offend Joseph Farah?

(Note: I wrote an article on this subject for Media Matters for America.)

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