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The bitch that bores

By
June 13, 2006

Should the media ignore the inane ravings of Ann Coulter and treat her for what she is: a bitch that bores?

Writes Howard Kurtz in The Washington Post:

Is it time for the media to stop lavishing attention on Ann Coulter?

In her latest book attacking godless liberals, the conservative author trashes as "witches" some of the women whose husbands were killed at the World Trade Center — precisely the kind of ugly, over-the-top invective that she knows will produce a publicity storm that will carry her onto the bestseller lists.

Matt Lauer grilled her last week on "Today," which prompted the New York Daily News banner "COULTER THE CRUEL," which in turn led "NBC Nightly News" and ABC’s "World News Tonight" to examine her remarks. The question, said NBC anchor Brian Williams, was "Have you no shame?"

But are news outlets being shameless in giving Coulter a platform for her inflammatory rhetoric, knowing it will boost ratings and circulation?

"She made news," says "Today" Executive Producer Jim Bell. "I think our audience is smart enough to figure it out and reach their own opinions. It’s not our job to censor people." Besides, Bell says, "she’s good television."

Coulter is a savvy constitutional lawyer and onetime Senate aide who rose to prominence as an advocate of Bill Clinton’s impeachment. But she became increasingly incendiary in her books and TV appearances, a shtick that made her sufficiently rich and famous to warrant a Time cover story last year.

David Carr, in The New York Times, suggests Coulter is just another packaged celeb:

Does she believe any of this stuff? I doubt she even knows. When I profiled Ms. Coulter a few years ago, I never figured out the line between her art and her artifice. She picked at her plate of lobster ravioli before serving up Fred Flintstone-size slabs of red meat. For the duration of the media opportunity, she was playful and on point, other than fibbing about her age, because she cares deeply about the franchise.

Her sincerity is beside the point as long as people keep taking the bait. Mrs. Clinton, who is the perfect foil for Ms. Coulter — ambitious, allergic to irony, loathed by the people who will line up for "Godless" — simply added fuel to a fire that she was presumably trying to douse. All manner of televised talkfests, including "Today," welcome Ms. Coulter’s pirate sensibilities back aboard whenever she has something to peddle, in part because seeing hate-speech pop out of a blonde who knows her way around a black cocktail dress makes for compelling viewing.

Without the total package, Ms. Coulter would be just one more nut living in Mom’s basement. You can accuse her of cynicism all you want, but the fact that she is one of the leading political writers of our age says something about the rest of us.

A lawyer friend who once worked with Coulter at one of those Washington advocacy groups that spring up and then fold overnight says she’s not the conservative firebrand she claims to be but just another opportunist who found a way to gain fame and make money.

Ah, Washington.