Coulter reference to Edwards as “faggot” gives rise to questions for media


In a March 2 speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), right-wing pundit Ann Coulter said she “can't really talk about” Democratic presidential candidate and former Sen. John Edwards (NC) because “you have to go into rehab if you use the word 'faggot.' ” The CPAC audience applauded her comment. Coulter's comments, which aired on CSPAN, were also documented by the weblog Think Progress. It was not the first time Coulter has smeared a prominent Democrat with a homophobic epithet, and it is not the first time that Coulter has ridiculed Edwards. Will the media call on Republican presidential hopefuls attending the CPAC conference to denounce her smear?

From Coulter's March 2 speech:

COULTER: Oh, and I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards. But it turns out that you have to go into rehab if you use the word “faggot,” so I'm -- so I'm kind of at an impasse, can't really talk about Edwards. So I think I'll just conclude here and take your questions.

As Media Matters for America documented, Coulter called former Vice President Al Gore a “total fag” on the July 27 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, claiming immediately that the comment was “a joke.” At the end of the interview, host Chris Matthews said: “Thanks for coming on. And a smart lady. Her book's called Godless. Sometimes being smart isn't enough for a civil discourse. We'd love to have her back.”

Coulter previously ridiculed Edwards in a 2003 column for frequently talking about the death of his 16-year-old son, Wade:

Edwards has talked about his son's death in a 1996 car accident on “Good Morning America,” in dozens of profiles and in his new book. ( “It was and is the most important fact of my life.” ) His 1998 Senate campaign ads featured film footage of Edwards at a learning lab he founded in honor of his son, titled “The Wade Edwards Learning Lab.” He wears his son's Outward Bound pin on his suit lapel. He was going to wear it on his sleeve, until someone suggested that might be a little too “on the nose.”

If you want points for not using your son's death politically, don't you have to take down all those “Ask me about my son's death in a horrific car accident” bumper stickers? Edwards is like a politician who keeps announcing that he will not use his opponent's criminal record for partisan political advantage. I absolutely refuse to mention the name of my dearly beloved and recently departed son killed horribly in a car accident, which affected me deeply, to score cheap political points.

As Think Progress noted, prior to Coulter's speech, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said, “I'm happy to learn also that after you hear me, you're going to from Ann Coulter. That is a good thing. Oh yeah!” Romney then referenced members of the “mainstream media” whom he said were in attendance:

ROMNEY: I'm happy to learn also that after you hear me, you're going to hear from Ann Coulter. That is a good thing. Oh yeah! Now, I think it's always very important to get the views of moderates. Now, I know there are a few here from the mainstream media, and they're probably surprised that we're here in these record numbers.

During her CPAC speech, Coulter apparently endorsed Romney, saying, “I think he's probably our best candidate” :

AUDIENCE MEMBER: What do you think of Governor Romney's candidacy for presidency?

COULTER: What do I think of Governor Romney's candidacy for presidency? I think he's probably our best candidate. I mean, I think it is fair to say -- and this is coming from someone who supported Pete DuPont, Alan Keyes, Pat Buchanan, Steve Forbes. So, you know, it's not like I won't go for an underdog. But I think we have to be serious about this, and I think our choice is among Gingrich, Giuliani, McCain and Romney. And Giuliani is very, very liberal. When this country gets to the point -- I mean, I have a love letter to him in my current book, Godless. What he did for New York was magnificent. But when this country gets to the point where both presidential candidates support abortion, I think we can hang it up as a country.

And McCain, I think has some problems, because everyone who supports him would have to switch party registrations to vote for him. I love Gingrich. I think he's brilliant. He was crucial, the man for his time. We don't know if he's running for president, but assuming he is, I kind of think his time has passed, and I don't know, you know, it could come back again, like '80s music, but I think his time is over. And you have to say about Romney, he tricked liberals into voting for him. I like a guy -- I like a guy who hoodwinks liberals so easily. And also, the one thing that I have a very soft spot for is that I love Mormons. And the reason why I love Mormons, well, among other things, is -- you may have forgotten this -- Bill Clinton in Utah in 1992 came in third in Utah. Now, that's a fine state.

Coulter also touted Romney's position on gay rights, saying:

COULTER: And of course, if you're working for a Republican candidate, you'll meet some nice heterosexual guys. By the way, before I let that slide, I do want to point out one thing that has been driving me crazy with the media, how they keep describing Mitt Romney's position as being “pro-gays, and that's going to upset right-wingers.” Well, you know, screw you, I'm not anti-gay. We're against gay marriage. I don't want gays to be discriminated against. I mean, I think we have, in addition to blacks, I don't know why all gays aren't Republicans. I think we have the pro-gay position, which is anti-crime and for tax cuts. Gays make a lot of money, and they're victims of crime. I mean, the way -- no, they are. They should be with us. But the media portrays us. If they could get away with it, they would start saying, you know, “Mitt Romney, he's pro-civil rights, and that's going to upset conservatives.” No. OK. Sorry, go ahead.

The incident at CPAC suggests at least two questions:

  • Will the media -- including the “mainstream media” figures Romney said attended his speech -- ask Romney whether he will repudiate Coulter's apparent endorsement?
  • Will the media ask the other Republican presidential candidates and potential candidates participating in CPAC -- including Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, Duncan Hunter, and Mike Huckabee -- whether they will seek the votes of the CPAC attendees who cheered Coulter's smear of Edwards?