Plugging new book in latest solo Today appearance, Coulter attacked liberals, 9-11 widows

››› ››› JOE BROWN

For the third time in eight months, NBC's Today hosted an appearance by right-wing pundit Ann Coulter, this time providing a forum for her to promote her latest book, Godless:The Church of Liberalism. Host Matt Lauer read some of the more controversial statements in Coulter's book, including her claim that "I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths" as much as the widows of victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

On the June 6 broadcast of NBC's Today, host Matt Lauer interviewed right-wing pundit Ann Coulter, whose book Godless: The Church of Liberalism (Crown Forum), was released that day. Lauer's interview provided a forum for some of the more controversial statements in Coulter's book, which Lauer read aloud and asked her to explain, including her claim that liberalism is the "opposition party to God" and that "I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths" as much as the widows of victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The interview was Coulter's third appearance in eight months on Today.

Lauer asked Coulter to comment on portions of her book in which she smeared liberals and liberalism:

  • "Environmentalists' energy plan is the repudiation of America and Christian destiny, which is Jet Skis, steak on the electric grill, hot showers, and night skiing." [p.7]
  • "[L]iberalism is a religion." [p.1]
  • "Liberalism is a comprehensive belief system denying the Christian belief in man's immortal soul." [p.3]
  • "Liberals can believe what they want to believe, but let us not flinch from identifying liberalism as the opposition party to God." [p. 22]
  • "To a liberal, 2,200 military deaths in the entire course of a war in Iraq is unconscionable, but 1.3 million aborted babies in America every year is something to celebrate." [p.78]

Lauer also asked Coulter to comment on several quotes from her book in which she attacked the widows of 9-11 victims:

  • "These self-obsessed women seemed genuinely unaware that 9/11 was an attack on our nation and acted as if the terrorist attacks happened only to them." [p.103]
  • "[T]hey believed the entire country was required to marinate in their exquisite personal agony. Apparently, denouncing Bush was an important part of their closure process." [p.103]
  • "These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis. I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much." [p.103]

Pressed by Lauer to defend her statement that the widows were "enjoying their husbands' deaths," Coulter responded: "Yes, they're all over the news." She criticized the widows for "speak[ing] out using the fact that they're widows" and "using their grief" and "the fact that you lost a husband" to make "a political point while preventing anyone from responding." She further argued that "the Left" exploits a "doctrine of infallibility," and that "[i]f they have a point to make about the 9-11 Commission, about how to fight the war on terrorism," they "put[] up Cindy Sheehan ... put[] out these widows." As a result, Coulter said, conservatives "always have to respond to someone who just had a family member die" and appear to be "questioning the authenticity of the grief."

When Lauer said, "I don't think they've ever told you you can't respond" to the statements of 9-11 widows, Coulter replied: "[Y]ou're getting testy with me," adding, "[Y]ou think I shouldn't be able to respond."

Although Coulter also criticized 9-11 widows for "cutting commercials" for Sen. John F. Kerry (D-MA) during his 2004 presidential campaign against Bush, Lauer failed to note that other 9-11 widows made campaign appearances for Bush. As Newsday reported September 25, 2004:

[A]t the Republican National Convention, Debra Burlingame, whose brother piloted the American Airlines flight that crashed into the Pentagon, was one of three women who spoke in highly personal terms of their loss. She told the Associated Press yesterday she, too, was willing to make campaign appearances for Bush to outline her differences with the pro-Kerry families. "They want people fired, and I think we've moved on from that," she said."

Coulter's June 6 interview with Lauer marked her third appearance on Today in the past eight months. She previously appeared on the December 27, 2005, broadcast, to discuss President Bush's falling popularity, and on the October 27, 2005, broadcast to discuss the grand jury investigation into the leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity. In both cases, she was interviewed solo by Lauer. Previously, Coulter appeared on the June 26, 2002, broadcast of Today, discussing her book Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right (Crown Forrm, June 2002) with former co-host Katie Couric, whom she called "the affable Eva Braun of morning TV."

Given Coulter's history of inflammatory and offensive rhetoric, why does Today continue to grant her solo interviews, and why did Today grant her a forum to promote a book containing similar statements? Given Coulter's most recent statements on the program, will Today continue to invite her to appear as a guest?

From the June 6 broadcast of NBC's Today:

LAUER: Let me give you some quotes from your book, all right?

COULTER: Yes.

LAUER: These are random. "Environmentalists' energy plan is the repudiation of America and Christian destiny, which is Jet Skis, steak on the electric grill, hot showers, and night skiing." "[L]iberalism is a religion." "[A] comprehensive belief system denying the Christian belief in man's immortal soul." And you go on to say, "Liberalism is the opposition party to God." How do you think Democrats who believe in God are going to feel about that statement?

COULTER: They probably won't like it. They don't like a lot of things I say.

LAUER: Is it a fair statement, do you think?

COULTER: Yes.

LAUER: How about this one?

COULTER: Yes. That's why I wrote a book about it.

LAUER: Referring to liberals again: "To a liberal, 2,200 military deaths in the entire course of the war in Iraq is unconscionable, but 1.3 million aborted babies in America every year is something to celebrate."

COULTER: Yes.

LAUER: Do you think people celebrate --

COULTER: Yes. They manifestly do. There are huge rallies for it. That is the one issue that is more important to the Democratic Party than any other.

LAUER: Do you think that people celebrate the right to choose or the actual abortion?

COULTER: The last candidate the Democrats got into the White House was Bill Clinton. I take that as a fair assessment of whom the Democrats will choose as their representative. Bill Clinton sold out every single special interest group, the criminal rights group, the welfare bureaucrats. The one group he would not stand up to were the abortion ladies, vetoing bans on partial-birth abortion, a gruesome procedure, passed by overwhelming majorities in the House and Senate -- twice Clinton vetoed that. That tells you what the Democratic Party thinks about abortion.

LAUER: Do you believe everything in the book, or do you put some things in there just to cater to your base?

COULTER: No, of course, I believe everything.

LAUER. All right. On the 9-11 widows, and in particular a group that has been outspoken and critical of the administration: "These self-obsessed women seem genuinely unaware that 9-11 was an attack on our nation and acted as if the terrorist attacks only happened to them." "[T]hey believe the entire country was required to marinate in their exquisite personal agony. Apparently, denouncing Bush was an important part of their closure process."

And this part is the part I really need to talk to you about: "These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, revelling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis. I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' death so much."

COULTER: Yes.

LAUER: Because they dare to speak out?

COULTER: To speak out using the fact that they're widows. This is the Left's doctrine of infallibility. If they have a point to make about the 9-11 Commission, about how to fight the war on terrorism, how about sending in somebody we're allowed to respond to? No, no, no, we always have to respond to someone who just had a family member die.

LAUER: But aren't they the people in the middle of the story?

COULTER: Because then when we respond, "Oh, you're questioning their authenticity."

LAUER: So grieve, but grieve quietly?

COULTER: No, the story is an attack on the nation --

LAUER: And by the way --

COULTER: -- that requires a foreign policy response.

LAUER: And by the way --

COULTER: That does not entail the expertise --

LAUER: They also criticized the Clinton administration.

COULTER: No, not the ones I'm talking about.

LAUER: Yeah they have.

COULTER: Oh no, no, no.

LAUER: They have.

COULTER: No, no, no.

LAUER: But is your message to them: "Just grieve in --"

COULTER: No, no, no. They were cutting commercials for Kerry. They were using their grief in order to make a political point while preventing anyone from responding.

LAUER: So, if you lose a husband, you no longer have the right to have a political point of view?

COULTER: No, but don't use the fact that you lost a husband as the basis for your being able to talk about it while preventing people from responding. Let Matt Lauer make the point. Let Bill Clinton make the point. Don't put up someone I'm not allowed to respond to without questioning the authenticity of the grief.

LAUER: Well apparently you are allowed to respond to them.

COULTER: Well, yeah, I did.

LAUER: So, in other words --

COULTER: But that is the point of liberal infallibility, of putting up Cindy Sheehan, of putting out these widows, of putting up Joe Wilson: "No, no, no. You can't respond." It's their doctrine of infallibility.

LAUER: But what I'm saying is --

COULTER: Have somebody else make the argument (inaudible).

LAUER: But what I'm saying is: I don't think they've ever told you you can't respond. So why can't they --

COULTER: Look, you're getting testy with me.

LAUER: No, I just -- I think it's a -- I think it's a dramatic statement. "These broads," you know, "are millionaires ... stalked by grief-arazzi --"

COULTER: Yeah, you think I shouldn't be able to respond to them.

LAUER: "I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' death so much?"

COULTER: Yes, they're all over the news.

LAUER: The book is called Godless: The Church of Liberalism. Ann Coulter, always fun to have you.

COULTER: Hey, where's Katie? Did she leave or something?

LAUER: She did.

Network/Outlet
NBC
Person
Ann Coulter
Show/Publication
Today Show
Stories/Interests
Propaganda/Noise Machine
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