Cuckoo for Coulter
Will Ann Coulter ever say or write something so offensive that she will lose the ConWeb's support? She hasn't yet.
By Terry Krepel
Unlike with other controversial statements she has previously made, Ann Coulter finally aroused the ire of some conservatives for claiming in her new book, "Godless," that 9/11 widows who criticized President Bush were "harpies" and "broads" who are "enjoying their husbands' deaths."
Hardly any of those conservatives, however, are working in the ConWeb.
That's not surprising. The folks at NewsMax, WorldNetDaily and the Media Research Center have been longtime supporters of Coulter, and NewsMax and WND have a business interest in her success because their retail operations are selling her book.
This confluence of business and ideological interests means, in short, that the ConWeb will rush to the defense of pretty much any fool thing Coulter says or writes.
NewsMax provides the perfect example of that sort of mindless defense. A June 8 article insisted that NBC launched a "vicious attack" on Coulter by highlighting her comments and bashed the "Jersey Girls" who were the focus of Coulter's criticism as "scarcely representative of the hundreds of 9/11 widows."
The article also misrepresents a comment made by liberal radio host Al Franken, who, in NewsMax's account, said "that Karl Rove and Lewis Libby should be 'executed.' " In fact, Franken didn't advocate execution; rather, he opined that Rove and Libby "will be executed" because they committed treason by outing CIA operative Valerie Plame.
A June 12 article asserts that the firestorm over Coulter's comments that "the church of liberalism has a doctrine of infallibility and liberals hide behind a bevy of sacred cows to defend its tenets" correct -- despite the fact that the 9/11 widows (also known as the Jersey Girls) specifically attacks have in fact been criticized by conservatives for years, which would seem to contradict Coulter's "infallibility" argument.
And when Coulter said that Rep. John Murtha, who has been critical of the way the Iraq war has been waged, was "[t]he reason soldiers invented 'fragging.'" NewsMax defended that, too. A June 17 article insisted that it was "blatantly untrue" and a "falsehood" to claim that the comment meant that Coulter endorsed fragging Murtha:
She did not suggest that Murtha, long out of the military service, should be killed by a grenade because his men considered him deserving of death -- which is what fragging means -- she was describing him as the kind of leader soldiers have good reason to distrust.
But nobody, including Coulter, said anything about grenades -- "fragging" also covers intentional "friendly fire" as well as fragmentation grenades, according to Wikipedia. And NewsMax all but admits that its defense is a highly parsed one; it repeats the comments of the right-wing blogger who first recorded Coulter's comments: "Although I wouldn't have phrased that like Ann did, I would say in her defense that in that quote she didn't say that she wanted to kill Murtha, she'd didn't say that she thought he should be killed, and she didn't say that she thought Murtha should have been fragged. Is that hair splitting?" Yes, it is.
NewsMax even dragged out that ConWeb chestnut, the meaningless opt-in online poll claiming that, as a June 19 article put it, "Americans overwhelmingly support Coulter and strongly disagree with her critics." Of course, since the poll was opt-in and promoted mostly on conservative websites -- something that NewsMax doesn't bother to mention -- the poll's results have no basis in reality as a gauge of what Americans as a whole think of Coulter and her views.
Over at WorldNetDaily, which runs Coulter's syndicated weekly column (it restored to one column a reference to Helen Thomas a an "old Arab" that Coulter's syndicate had edited out, declaring that her words must run "unsanitized"), the tone was similar, if a bit more slatheringly promotional. On June 9, it wrote of the controversy over her 9/11 widow remarks: "How's this for book publicity?" In a June 12 article focusing on a columnist's sarcastic suggestion that Coulter "do us all a favor and kill yourself," WND wrote, without any apparent sense of sarcasm or irony: "There's a price to pay for having the No. 1 best-selling book in America when you're a controversial conservative female author."
Joseph Farah drooled over Coulter's book in a June 12 review, calling it "some of the best satire I have ever read." WND columnist Kevin McCullough also defended Coulter, calling her a martyr "for the well-being of political discourse in general."
At Bozell's empire (which has no apparent direct business interest in promoting Coulter), CNSNews.com did a fawning interview with Coulter. At NewsBusters, Mark Finkelstein took offense at the idea that Coulter's bashing of 9/11 widows "amounts to desecration of the graves of the 9/11 victims themselves"; he also suggested that Coulter critics are motivated by jealousy of the money she's making off this controversy.
The MRC's Tim Graham took Coulter's side in a June 8 NewsBusters post, claiming that her critics "did not consider that some of the 9-11 widows she mocked were also champions of political trash talk," adding: "Kristen Breitweiser, the most prominent Bush-trashing 9-11 widow, has sounded like a liberal version of Coulter at times on her huffing and puffing blog at the Huffington Post."
Only one ConWeb outlet has thus far declined to participate in the ConWeb's Coulter media orgy. A June 13 Accuracy in Media column by Cliff Kincaid took Coulter to task for her 9/11 widow comments: "There is no evidence whatsoever that those women enjoyed their husbands' deaths, and Coulter offers none." Kincaid concluded. "An apology would be consistent with the Christian cross that Coulter frequently wears around her neck."
In a June 22 follow-up, Kincaid defended his criticism of Coulter, even pointing out that Alan Caruba -- a regular columnist for CNSNews.com -- wrote a column in the Philadelphia Inquirer defending Coulter but "was guilty of never mentioning her most sensational charge -- that the widows were 'enjoying" their husbands' deaths.'" Kincaid added that Coulter "is completely out of touch with real-life human beings and the reality of what terrorism does to people. If she doesn't believe it and made the charge only to create controversy and sell books, then she is devoid of a conscience."
WND columnist Ilana Mercer also gently took her to task in a June 16 column, suggesting that the father of slain American journalist Nicholas Berg -- who expressed "pacifist" sentiments upon the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the terrorist who killed his son -- was a more appropriate target than the 9/11 widows and that Coulter is perhaps not the conservative H.L. Mencken she claims she is.
That's pretty much the extent of Coulter dissent on the ConWeb. After all, why let common sense get in the way of ideology and making a buck?