Joseph Farah, the Coulter Codependent
It's clear that there is nothing so offensive Ann Coulter could do that would make WorldNetDaily drop her column -- WND needs the traffic she brings too much to do that.
By Terry Krepel
WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah has a decidedly unhealthy codependent relationship with right-wing columnist Ann Coulter.
WND has run Coulter's column for 14 years now, starting it in October 2001 -- shortly after her post-9/11 declaration that the U.S. response to terrorists should be to "invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity" -- by touting her as "the fiery blonde known for colorful articulation of her passionate views" and a "self-described 'bomb thrower' who has been dubbed 'the Abbie Hoffman of the Right.'"
The fact that Coulter feels no boundaries when attacking her perceived enemies has been considered a plus by WND. In 2005, WND proudly re-edited a Coulter column to restore a description of Helen Thomas as an "old Arab" that her syndicate had removed.
It wasn't until 2010 that Farah took offense to anything Coulter had said or written -- and that was only because she wasn't being extreme enough. Farah dropped Coulter as a keynote speaker for WND's "Taking America Back National Conference" that year because she spoke to a gay-Republican group, sparking a war of words between Farah and Coulter, with her calling Farah a “publicity whore” and "fake Christians trying to get publicity" for milking the controversy and for promoting "birther nonsense."
Despite the personal attacks, Farah's WND kept publishing her column.
Farah's misgivings about Coulter have only grown since then. In a February 2014 column, Farah lamented that Coulter has "gone native" by endorsing the election of "any and all Republicans" whether or not they follow the right-wing agenda Farah pushes, adding, "Is it possible for even conservatives to have a public dialogue with Ann Coulter without being the target of gratuitous, ad hominem attacks?"
He offered up a reason why he keeps running her column despite her history of "gratuitous, ad hominem attacks," and it's not because of his claimed purpose of offering "the broadest spectrum of political opinion"; it's his statement that "As anyone can see, her column still runs in WND every week, the place more people read it than anywhere else."
Yes, Coulter drives traffic to WND, and Farah is clearly afraid to give that up. Which raises the question: Is there anything Coulter could say or write that is so offensive that Farah would be moved to drop her column once and for all, thus depriving her of both revenue and what Farah insists is her highest-profile outlet?
The answer so far is no.
After Coulter went on a Twitter rant complaining about Republican presidential candidates pandering to Israel -- at one point stating, "How many f---ing Jews do these people think there are in the United States?" -- Joseph Farah devoted his Sept. 17 column to criticizing Ann Coulter's "f---ing Jews" tirade, calling it "a staggeringly inappropriate and ugly comment" that's likely anti-Semitic and puts her in league with Iranian mullahs.
(That's more than the Media Research Center did, which virtually ignored Coulter's offensive remarks presumably because of her longtime closeness to the MRC.)
What Farah didn't do, however, is admit his role in encouraging her work as a right-wing bombthrower -- as shown by re-inserting her "old Arab" insult above -- nor did he say he would do the one thing that would send a direct and meaningful message to her by canceling her column.
Farah rather laughably lamented that "It’s sad to see Coulter degenerate into a slur machine, one who seems so desperate for fame at any cost that she will say anything and possibly do anything to maintain a career as, frankly, a thuggish commentator." But thuggish slur-machine commentary is what WND is all about -- from Mychal Massie to Jesse Lee Peterson to, well, Farah himself.
But if Farah was really mad about Coulter, he could have canceled her column. But he didn't. Instead, he devoted his Sept. 24 column to explaining why Coulter's tirade won't cause him to stop giving her a weekly forum.
His reason? Christian forgiveness, or something.
Farah stated that since Coulter's remarks, he has "been inundated with requests and demands to exercise my authority as founder, chief executive officer and editor of WND.com to dump Coulter as a commentator." He then explained: "If I believed she was truly an anti-Semite, that would be a different story. Then I would bounce her so fast it would make her blond hair flip. But I don’t think she is." He added, "I would hope and trust the editors of WND’s commentary section would never allow her to make such an insensitive and inflammatory remark like that in our publication. I certainly would not condone it."
But WND has, in fact, published anti-Jewish commentary on its pages. In 2010, WND published a commentary by Pat Buchanan complaining there were too many Jews on the Supreme Court. And in 2012, WND columnist Burt Prelutsky argued that the so-called "war on Christmas" is a conspiracy pushed by "Jewish judges, Jewish journalists and the largely Jewish funded ACLU." Farah shouldn't pretend that the editors of his commentary section have any particular sensitivity on the subject.
Farah then recounted the tit-for-tat between him and Coulter over Coulter's speaking to a group of gay conservatives and Farah dropping her as a speaker for his far-right political conference over it."People assumed I would dump Coulter’s column then," he write. "I did not. Why? I forgave her. That’s what Christians do." He suggests he's done the same for Coulter here, but he doesn't explicitly say so.
Then, Farah turns the whole brouhaha into self-aggrandization, as he's prone to do (italics are his):
There’s another reason I didn’t drop Coulter (and, no, it has nothing to do with traffic she brings WND).
That's utter horsepuckey. In fact, exactly two of WND's three dozen or so regular columnists are explicitly liberal -- Bill Press and Ellen Ratner, whose presence at WND is merely window-dressing for Farah to claim he has a full spectrum of columnists -- while nearly all of the rest are on the conservative/libertarian/right-wing/religious end of the spectrum. There isn't a single WND columnist who is a centrist, despite Farah's claim that he has "plenty in the middle."
Farah's claim that "WND stands alone in presenting both sides" is a baldfaced lie as well. "Name one other news organization that strives to do this," he says? Sure! To start with, there's the Washington Post, whose opinion pages include conservatives like George Will, Charles Krauthammer, Kathleen Parker, Jennifer Rubin and Michel Gerson as well as liberals like E.J. Dionne, Greg Sargent and Colbert King. There's also a little publication called the New York Times, which includes right-leaning columnists such as David Brooks and Ross Douthat.
In fact, most daily newspapers in the U.S. attempt to present a spectrum of opinions on its commentary pages. For Farah to claim WND is literally the only publication publishing a diverse spectrum of opinion is not only false and ahistorical, it allows him to deny the fact that both WND's commentary and supposed straight-news pages are heavily skewed to the right.
And while we can't prove Farah's claim that the "traffic she brings WND" played no consideration into WND's decision to keep Coulter is a lie, we're pretty sure it is, given Farah's previous bragging about how WND is Coulter's biggest audience.
Interestingly, nowhere in Farah's column did he explain why he is keeping Coulter as a columnist on the basis of the quality of the content she provides. There's not even an attempt to blather about her providing a unique point of view or a track record of being intellectually provocative and writing a series of best-selling books.
Instead, he repeatedly and personally slagged her at every opportunity, at one point stating, "Coulter is brash. She is angry. She is reckless. She’s badly in need of some accountability in her life. I hope she finds it along with some peace." The nicest thing he wrote about her is the backhanded compliment that he doesn't believe she's anti-Semitic.
It's clear Farah doesn't respect Coulter as a person or for the quality of her opinions, which again points us to the inescapable conclusion that the only reason WND is keeping Coulter is for the traffic she brings to the website. Which, thus, makes Farah's argument that he's forgiven her anti-Semitic tirade sound more than a little hollow.
The hollowness continued the very next day, as Farah spent his Sept. 28 column criticizing Coulter for her latest provocation, a "vicious slur against Catholics one that was not only bigoted, but wholly inaccurate historically," writing regarding Pope Francis' views on climate change that "“I’m an American and this is why our founders (not “immigrants”!) distrusted Catholics & wouldn’t make them citizens.”
Farah retorted: "It’s not only anti-Catholic, it’s anti-founders. It’s absolute nonsense that America’s founders wouldn’t allow Catholics to be citizens. In fact, an entire American colony, later an original state, Maryland, was founded, as a Catholic refuge."
While the Founding Fathers may have been more tolerant of Catholics than their colonial forebears, the fact remains that the Declaration of Independence contains the signature of only one Catholic, Charles Carroll. So Coulter is not as historically inaccurate as she is dickish.
But Farah's column is headlined "Memo to Trump: Dump Coulter." And Farah unloads once again, asserting that "Coulter will do anything and say anything for attention," she "badly needs an editor and a keeper," and "is making the case for herself as a WASP bigot" who has demonstrated "raw bigotry and stupidity." He asks, "Has she run out of material? Does she know how to make a point without defamation and cruelty?" (Never mind that Coulter's sense of defamation and cruelty was a prime selling point at WND.) He then states:
If I were my buddy David Limbaugh, the person she tweeted directly to as well as the general public, I’d be angry. Limbaugh has been close to Coulter for a long time. I would tell Coulter if she plans on tweeting any more bigoted comments, leave me out of it, thank you. I don’t want that stink on me.
But Farah apparently did not CC himself on his "memo." Nowhere in his column does he explain why the "increasingly thoughtless, conscienceless, shrill, mean, self-righteous, angry and bombastic Coulter" who Donald Trump and David Limbaugh should disavow is still worthy of a place as a WND columnist.
Farah is perfectly comfortable telling other people what to do, but he won't take his own advice, lest his website lose readers. That's how cynical and desperate he is.
And to this day, Coulter remains a WND columnist.
Farah would probably be the first to argue that Christian forgiveness shouldn't turn one into a doormat, but a doormat is exactly what he looks like in his dealings with Coulter. He's constantly forgiving Coulter's transgressions, even when she's personally attacking him. By taking her abuse, he looks weak and codependent.
Farah can rant all he wants to about Coulter, but he has the power to harm her pocketbook. He help create her, after all, and he has the power to reverse it. That he has so far refused to do so -- and in fact has helped her to become the person who would refer to "f---king Jews" and make anti-Catholic statements -- demonstrates he doesn't have the courage of his convictions.
It's almost as if Coulter is trying to see how offensive she can be before Farah will drop her column at WND. It's clear that her column will appear until her WND traffic numbers drop -- and not a moment before.