When it comes to opinion media, what raises my ethical hackles most comes from Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and Glenn Beck – three individuals responsible for much of the fear, unreason and cynicism that flourishes today.
This excerpt comes from the chapter on Ann Coulter.
I used to like Ann Coulter back in the day when she’d appear on Politically Incorrect, an earlier incarnation of comedian Bill Maher’s cable show. She was smart, sharp, and incredibly fluent on a variety of political and social issues. In her 1998 book, High Crimes and Misdemeanors: the Case against Bill Clinton, Coulter focused like a laser on the audaciousness that was Bill Clinton. Although her hyperbole was, at times, excessive, much of her argument made sense. And her examination of the impeachment process was a valuable lesson to anyone about the potential abuses of power both personal and political.
Of the three individuals examined here, Coulter is far and away the smartest. In HBO boxing parlance, Ann Coulter is the Manny Pacquiao to any number of conservative contenders. Coulter is the only one of the three to whom the term “pundit” used to apply.
Notice, I say used to.
Armed with eight weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and the release of her second book, Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right (2002), Coulter came down with a terrible case of Coughlin’s Disease – that formidable and sooner-or-later fatal malady where a pundit begins to believe his or her own press-clippings and engages in saying and writing anything outrageous, because for Coulter it’s not about the message, it’s all about the messenger. …
Coulter’s first epiphany came in response to an article she wrote for the [Cornell] university’s paper. When she began receiving hate mail, she realized… she liked it! It was at that moment – her biographer will later record – when Ann Hart Coulter swept herself off her feet and fell head-over-heels in love with herself! …
Ann Coulter is the Lady Gaga of political punditry whose absurdity doesn’t come from raw-meat, Origami-like costumes, but out of her own mouth and self-congratulatory blog site. Anncoulter.com showcases no less than 48 individual photos of Narcissus’ younger sister: Ann with Sean Hannity, Ann at the podium, Ann in full Hollywood-sunglass mode, with Reverend Al, in black leather, on the ski slopes, and in one incredibly creepy photo, Coulter is seen leaning over the massive headstone of Senator Joseph R. McCarthy. …
In interview after interview, Coulter plays the valiant victim in defense of her own remarks so often I’m surprised that as a practicing Christian she hasn’t petitioned the church for sainthood. Of course the indispensable tactic in the Coulter Catechism is, first and foremost, the ad hominem assault.
“I was going to have a few comments about John Edwards but you have to go into rehab if you use the word faggot.”
“I think our motto should be, post-9/11, ‘raghead talks tough, raghead faces consequences.’ ”
“The swing voters – I like to refer to them as the idiot voters because they don’t have set philosophical principles. You’re either a liberal or you’re a conservative if you have an IQ above a toaster.”
“Press passes can’t be that hard to come by if the White House allows that old Arab Helen Thomas to sit within yards of the President.”
In her 2002 book Slander – Liberal Lies About the American Right, she writes “…liberals prefer invective to engagement. The hate-mongering and name-calling on the left might be a droll irrelevancy, except that it has a debilitating effect on real issues.”
She then proceeds to call Christie Todd Whitman a “birdbrain” and a “dimwit.” Senator Jim Jeffords is a “half-wit.” The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin is a “political hack duly celebrated for making things up, engaging in unethical behavior, and sliming other liberal journalists for a want of alacrity in bending over for Bill Clinton.”
In one quote, the anti-hate-mongering Coulter uses the word “hate” no less than 5 times in describing liberals: “Liberals hate  America. They hate  ‘flag-wavers,’ they hate  abortion opponents, they hate  all religions except Islam (post 9/11). Even Islamic terrorists don’t hate  America like liberals do. If they had that much energy, they’d have indoor plumbing by now.”
Of course, Ann defends all this as “colorful commentary.”
From Lady Coulter’s perspective contradictions like this don’t seem to matter. With her popularity in book sales, media exposure as well as the lecture circuit, Coulter turned from conservative watchdog to pit bull faster than you can say Kal Kan.
In a Fox News interview Coulter defends the murder of abortion doctor George Tiller. “I don’t really like to think of it as murder. It was terminating Tiller in the 203rd trimester.”
In March, 2010, Ann Coulter came face-to-face with a Muslim student who took exception to a remark by the “colorful” conservative who said that Muslims shouldn’t be allowed on airplanes, but rather “take flying carpets.”
University of Ottawa student Fatima Al-Dhaher flatly told Coulter that she didn’t own a flying carpet. What mode of transportation would she then suggest?
“What mode of transportation?” Coulter repeated, straight-faced. “Take a camel.” …
“Political ‘debate’ in this country is insufferable,” Coulter writes in Slander.
And she’s right!
However, rather than attempt to put a more respectful and cogent face on that debate, Ann Coulter resorts to a plethora of the very invective and hate-mongering she decries. …
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