Ann Coulter

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Ann Coulter on the FOX News Channel

Ann Hart Coulter (born December 8, 1961 in New York City) is a prominent American syndicated columnist, bestselling author, and television pundit. Her commentary has earned her a reputation as a strong critic of social and political liberalism. Her speaking and writing style is provocative and aggressive, with heavy use of sarcasm and hyperbole.

Coulter is the author of four political commentary books, all of which have been on the New York Times bestseller list:

Coulter is a legal correspondent for the magazine Human Events. Her syndicated column for Universal Press Syndicate is carried by or linked to by many influential conservative websites, including Frontpagemag.com and Townhall.com. Coulter was the subject of a TIME magazine cover story in April 2005, and has made frequent guest appearances on national television and syndicated radio programs. She has appeared on a large number of topical talk shows, including Hannity and Colmes, The O'Reilly Factor, American Morning with Paula Zahn, Crossfire, The Today Show, Real Time and Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Coulter has also appeared in FahrenHYPE 9/11, a rebuttal of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911.

Ann Coulter is an especially frequent guest on the Fox News Channel. She regularly appears on the Bill O'Reilly program.

Personal background

Ann Coulter was born into a Catholic family (she is no longer Catholic) that she has described as "upper middle class" on December 8, 1961 according to the New Canaan voting registration office. She attributes her conservative opinions and her acerbic rhetorical style to her upbringing in Connecticut. She has two elder brothers. Her father, John V. Coulter, was a lawyer, known for his legal work in cases against labor unions; he later became a constable. Her mother, Nell M. Coulter, is a member of the New Canaan Republican Town Committee. (Cloud, 2005)

As an undergraduate in Cornell University's College of Arts and Sciences, Ann Coulter helped to launch a conservative newspaper, The Cornell Review, with funding provided by the Institute for Educational Affairs' Collegiate Network. She graduated cum laude from Cornell in 1984, and went on to receive her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School, where she achieved membership in the Order of the Coif and was an editor of The Michigan Law Review. At law school, Coulter shared an apartment with the human and civil rights advocate Cindy Cohn who is now the Legal Director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. At Michigan, she founded a local chapter of the Federalist Society. She also received training at the National Journalism Center. After practicing corporate law for four years, she became a congressional aide in Washington, D. C. in 1994, working as a staffer to Republican Senator Spencer Abraham, who served on the Senate Judiciary Committee before working for a public interest law firm. In 2005, Coulter purchased a home in the tony resort town of Palm Beach, Florida, where other famous residents include Rush Limbaugh, Rod Stewart, Jimmy Buffett and Donald Trump.

When asked if she is a fundamentalist Christian, Coulter told interviewer David Bowman, "I don't think I've described myself that way, but only because I'm from Connecticut. We just won't call ourselves that." (2003) Though she seldom argues from a religious point of view, Coulter has commented on leaders The New York Times has labeled the "religious right", stating that Jerry Falwell's support was overrated and that Pat Robertson is ineffective and not conservative. (Slander, ch. 9) She commonly supports the positions of other Christian conservatives — although she argues that such a term often constitutes a liberal slur. When she received an award at the Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute, she said she had become more Christian in recent years, and affirmed that "Jesus died for my sins and I have eternal life", and that with such a faith liberals cannot hurt her. [1]

Communication style

Coulter gained prominence in the field of conservative commentators with her brand of outspoken criticism of many liberal and Democratic Party figures and policies over the past half-century. She quickly established a reputation as a controversial and colorful speaker, and indeed has relished this role (Coulter, August 2002). As she told The Sunday Times in 2002, "I am a polemicist. I am perfectly frank about that. I like to stir up the pot. I don't pretend to be impartial or balanced, as broadcasters do."

Some have disagreed with her "shoot-from-the-hip" style of commentary. They claim it makes her reckless with facts. For example, in a January 2005 interview with the CBC's the fifth estate, Coulter stated, "Canada used to be one of our most loyal friends and vice-versa. I mean Canada sent troops to Vietnam - was Vietnam less containable and more of a threat than Saddam Hussein?" She was countered by host Bob McKeown who said, "No, actually, Canada didn't send troops to Vietnam... Australia was there, not Canada." (video of the interview) In a subsequent interview on C-SPAN, Coulter stated that while Canada did not send combat troops to Vietnam, thousands of Canadians had volunteered for the US military:

Yes, 10,000 Canadian troops, at least. There is a War Memorial to them, at least for most of that. The Canadian Government didn't send troops [...] but [...] they came and fought with the Americans. So I was wrong. It turns out there were 10,000 Americans who happened to be born in Canada... People keep saying: "well, he didn't tell you that they - 10,000 troops - ran across to sign up with the Americans" because I don't think he knew. [2]

Despite Coulter's admission of the mistake, columnist John Cloud stated in a Time Magazine article dated April 25, 2005 that, "Canada did send noncombat troops to Indochina in the 1950s and again to Vietnam in 1972." (Canada sent officials to Vietnam in 1954 and 1973 as observers with the International Commission for Control and Supervision.) Media watchdog FAIR disputes this assertion, however, saying that Cloud was "making quite a stretch" to prove that Coulter wasn't inaccurate. They explain: "Canada was officially neutral during the Vietnam War, so if any noncombat troops were sent [...] they would not have been sent to support U.S. forces there." [3]

Coulter has said she likes to read anything written by humorist Dave Barry (Coulter, January 2004).

Books

In 1998, Coulter published High Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Case Against Bill Clinton as the first of several conservative books targeting the left. As its title suggests, the book made a case for the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. Written before the impeachment, Coulter criticizes the GOP-led Congress for not having yet impeached Clinton.

In 2002, Ann Coulter published Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right, a frank critique of the alleged misconduct of liberals in American institutions. Like Bernard Goldberg's Bias, which came out the year before, Slander addressed media bias in the United States, and went on to become a bestseller.

Slander claims that many American journalists have ties to the Democratic Party and are extremely liberal, which biases their reporting. Coulter argues that George W. Bush has faced a difficult and unfair battle for positive coverage in the media from the moment he decided to run for president, and that a similar battle for fair coverage has been waged by practically every Republican presidential candidate since Calvin Coolidge.

Her next book, Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism, claims that Democratic politicians and the media have severely undermined much of America's foreign policy goals since the end of World War II. Summarizing recent history, she accuses liberals of treason: "They are either traitors or idiots" (pg. 16). Watergate, instead of being an investigation of lawlessness in the Nixon presidency, was "...the left's ultimate revenge against him for telling the truth about Hiss" (pg.10). Vietnam was lost by democrats. Reagan won the Cold War. The Contras were "anti-Communists", even though the Sandinistas never described themselves as Communists. Coulter reveals a disapproval for liberal Hollywood, even saying "Actors are constantly engaging in conspicuous fighting to distract from the fact that they are sissy-boys who put on little-girls' plays" (249). This type of dialogue pervades the book.

Media career and relations with media outlets

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Ann Coulter on the cover of Time Magazine. Photography by Platon. Coulter has alleged that the distortion of this picture is intended to portray her in a negative light.

In 1996, the fledgling television network MSNBC hired Coulter as a legal correspondent and political pundit, launching her media career. Though she was allowed to make many partisan and controversial comments as a panelist, she was fired in 1997 after an exchange with Bobby Muller, president of the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, in which she said, "No wonder you guys lost" (MSNBC's NewsChat, October 11, 1997).

Coulter was contributing editor and syndicated columnist at the National Review Online (NRO) when she was asked by the editors to make changes to a piece written in 2001 directly after the September 11 attacks in which her friend Barbara Olsen had been killed. Coulter went on the national television show Politically Incorrect accusing NRO of censorship and claiming her pay was only five dollars per article (accounts of Coulter and the website differ over which piece was in dispute. [Coulter, July 2002, "Donahue"]). National Review Online then dropped her column and terminated her editorship. Despite media reports to the contrary, Jonah Goldberg, editor-at-large of NRO claimed "We did not 'fire' Ann for what she wrote.... We ended the relationship because she behaved with a total lack of professionalism, friendship, and loyalty." (Goldberg, 2001)

Ann Coulter was contracted by USA Today to cover the 2004 Democratic National Convention, but was replaced by Jonah Goldberg of NRO after a "disagreement over editing" (Memmot, 2004). Her one and only article from the convention began "Here at the Spawn of Satan convention in Boston", and referred to some (unspecified) female attendees as "corn-fed, no make-up, natural fiber, no-bra needing, sandal-wearing, hirsute, somewhat fragrant hippie chick pie wagons". The newspaper did not print the article, but Coulter published it on her website. (Coulter, July 2004)

On August 28, 2005, Coulter's syndicated column was dropped by the Tucson newspaper Arizona Daily Star. David Stoeffler, the publisher and editor of the Star said, "We've decided that syndicated columnist Ann Coulter has worn out her welcome. Many readers find her shrill, bombastic and mean-spirited. And those are the words used by readers who identified themselves as conservatives." [4]

Paula Jones controversy

Ann Coulter debuted as a figure on the public scene shortly before becoming an unpaid legal advisor working for the attorneys representing Paula Jones in her sexual harassment suit against President Bill Clinton. Coulter wrote a column about the Paula Jones case for the magazine Human Events. Coulter's friend George Conway had been asked to assist Jones' attorneys, and shortly afterward Coulter was also asked to help; she began writing legal briefs for the case.

Coulter later stated that she would come to mistrust the motives of Paula Jones' head lawyer, Joseph Cammaratta, who told Jones that she didn't have a case and should take a settlement. (Daley, 1999) From the onset of the lawsuit, Jones had sought an apology from Clinton at least as eagerly as she sought a settlement (Barak, 1998), and in an interview Coulter said regarding herself that she had believed that Jones' case was solid, that Jones was telling the truth, that Clinton should be held publicly accountable for his misconduct, and that a settlement would give the impression that Jones was merely interested in extorting money from the President. (Daley, 1999)

David Daley who wrote the interview piece for the Hartford Courant recounted what followed:

Coulter played one particularly key role in keeping the Jones case alive. In Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff's new book Uncovering Clinton: A Reporter's Story, Coulter is unmasked as the one who leaked word of Clinton's "distinguishing characteristic" -- his reportedly bent penis that Jones said she could recognize and describe -- to the news media. Her hope was to foster mistrust between the Clinton and Jones camps and forestall a settlement...

I thought if I leaked the distinguishing characteristic it would show bad faith in negotiations. [Clinton lawyer] Bob Bennett would think Jones had leaked it. Cammaratta would know he himself hadn't leaked it and would get mad at Bennett. It might stall negotiations enough for me to get through to [Jones adviser] Susan Carpenter-McMillan to tell her that I thought settling would hurt Paula, that this would ruin her reputation, and that there were other lawyers working for her. Then 36 hours later, she returned my phone call.

I just wanted to help Paula. I really think Paula Jones is a hero. I don't think I could have taken the abuse she came under. She's this poor little country girl and she has the most powerful man she's ever met hitting on her sexually, then denying it and smearing her as president. And she never did anything tacky. It's not like she was going on TV or trying to make a buck out of it. (1999)

According to the Coulter Watch website, Coulter also told Isikoff, "We were terrified that Jones would settle. It was contrary to our purpose of bringing down the president." ("Oh, Paula", 2002, par. 5, 2)

The case eventually was brought to court after Jones had broken with Coulter and the rest of her original legal team, and it was summarily dismissed because the judge found that Jones could not show that she had suffered any damages, even if her allegations proved true. Jones did gain a settlement, however, from Clinton in exchange for not appealing the decision, although at $850,000 it was only one-third of the amount she had been asking for and all but $151,000 went to pay her legal expenses. However, the Jones case eventually led to the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal and to the movement lobbying for Clinton's impeachment, as Coulter had wished. Coulter made appearances on MSNBC (a role which began before her legal involvement with Jones) in which she commented on the case, and went on to write a critical exposé of Clinton, boasting on Rivera Live that she "got a bestseller out of it" (High Crimes and Misdemeanors, which included a chapter on the lawsuit) and telling Hannity & Colmes in August 1999, "The reason we were doing it for Paula–well, was for Paula. She had been defamed and I think we can say we got her reputation back." ("Oh, Paula", 2002, par. 8)

Jones (who had divorced her husband during the case, purchased a house after the settlement, and incurred a large tax bill) then posed nude for Penthouse, stating that she wished to use the money to pay the tax and fund her two grade-school-aged children's college education. Coulter publicly denounced her as "trailer park trash", saying, "I totally believed she was the good Christian girl she made herself out to be.... [N]ow it turns out she's a fraud, at least to the extent of pretending to be an honorable and moral person" ("Oh, Paula", 2002, par. 12). Jones defended herself in an interview with Larry King in October 2000, saying, "I haven't been offered a book deal like everybody else in this huge thing has done. Ann Coulter's done books. I haven't seen her call me up and say: 'Paula, would you like for me to help you write a book, a really nice, decent book?' I haven't had any help from anybody whatsoever." ("Oh, Paula", 2002, par. 14)

Criticism

Ann Coulter has made a career of controversial arguments, many of which infuriate those on the opposite side of the political spectrum, inviting much criticism. Coulter's supporters often suggest that many of her comments are taken out of context, that Coulter is only joking, or that she is engaging in hyperbole, though Coulter refuses to apologize or back down when responding to the controversies about them, apparently enjoying the consternation they cause to her opponents. Supporters also argue that she uses satire to illustrate her points and for intentional, if controversial, comic effect. Critics also accuse her of hypocrisy and double standards, and argue that since she has such strong conservative bias in her comments and writing she is willing to misrepresent sources and facts to support her case. This criticism mirrors the argument that she herself uses in her criticism of liberal left wing politicians, interest groups and the news media, particularly The New York Times.

Coulter has been the subject of frequent protests, especially when speaking on college campuses. On one occasion, a pie was thrown at her. Arnold Beichman reviewed Treason in the conservative Washington Times, and wrote that he'd "tried to read Miss Coulter's book and failed. Life is too short to read pages and pages of rant." [5]

A minor controversy started when the Washington Post reported Coulter had a Washington D.C. driver's license with her birthdate listed as December 8, 1963, two years after her actual birthdate.

Controversial statements regarding terrorists and radical separatists

Coulter has frequently criticized the government's handling of radical separatists. She described members of the Branch Davidians at the Waco compound as "harmless American citizens" [6] even after the survivors of the raid (and subsequent immolation of the group by their leader) were convicted. Likewise, she berates what she calls the "unprovoked government assault" and "murder" at Ruby Ridge [7]. The government's handling of both incidents has been widely criticized. [8] [9]

In an interview with George Gurley, Coulter stated that: "My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times building." (Coulter, August 26, 2002) Melik Kayan of The Wall Street Journal described the statement and others she has made as "tongue-in-cheek agitprop". [10] When later asked by John Hawkins if she regretted that statement Ann Coulter replied: "Of course I regret it. I should have added, 'after everyone had left the building except the editors and reporters'." [11] However, Eric Alterman of The Nation and MSNBC.com, and many other critics were not amused. While writing that "Coulter jokes about McVeigh blowing up the Times", Alterman still found the joke offensive, calling Coulter a "terrorist apologist" and "ideological comrade" of McVeigh due to their similar statements about the Waco and Ruby Ridge incidents. [12]

Controversial statements about minorities

Coulter has also drawn criticism for several remarks regarding Arabs, Muslims, people of Middle Eastern descent, and other minorities. For instance, in an article published one day after the 9/11 attacks, she wrote "We know who the homicidal maniacs are. They are the ones cheering and dancing right now. We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity". [13] A minor controversy ensued after Coulter denounced Helen Thomas, calling her an "old Arab" [14]. In other instances, she has referred to the Middle East as a "swamp" and advocated racial profiling on airliners. [15] [16] In an interview with a Guardian reporter, Ann Coulter stated: "I think airlines ought to start advertising: 'We have the most civil rights lawsuits brought against us by Arabs.'" When asked by the reporter about what Muslims would then do for travel, she replied: "They could use flying carpets." [17] Finally, during a May 1997 episode of Politically Incorrect she responded to a question, "You're talking about [repealing] the Emancipation Proclamation?", with "That would be a good start."

Controversial statements about women

Coulter has stated that women are "not as bright" as men (Hannity and Colmes - 09/23/04), "have no capacity to understand how money is earned" (Politically Incorrect - 02/26/01), and "shouldn't be in the military" (Hannity and Colmes - 05/05/04).

On a few occasions Coulter has suggested that the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote should be repealed. In a 02/14/00 National Review Online article she wrote, "If this ticket doesn't close the gender gap, it's time to repeal the 19th Amendment." and on 02/26/01 she said, "[women should] all have to give up their vote" (Politically Incorrect). She also argues that banning women from voting would ensure Republican presidents would be elected - as historical voting patterns had shown males had voted in majorities for Republican candidates.

Al Franken

In his book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, Al Franken claims that Coulter deliberately fabricates material and misrepresents the sources she cites. Two chapters of the book are devoted to criticizing Coulter and her book Slander where he accuses her of deliberately distorting facts.[18] One way supporters counter the charge of misrepresentation is by pointing out that Slander contains 780 endnotes. The New York Times review of Slander praised Coulter's extensive citations, stating "A great deal of research supports Ms. Coulter's wisecracks." Franken counters this by saying that Coulter often mischaracterizes the sources that she cites and then relies on the reader "not bothering to check one, much less 780 of her [endnotes]."

Franken states that Coulter treats any comments found in The New York Times as reflecting the official opinion of the newspaper, although many of the comments Coulter cites are from opinion pieces. Coulter counters by pointing out the overwhelming number of liberal editorials versus conservative or even centrist ones, and that fact indicates a de facto endorsement of the liberal ideologies proposed in those editorials.

Ann Coulter counters by arguing that Franken's chapters contain false accusations, and suggesting that liberal newspapers are prone to make errors of omission that can be much more serious. (Coulter, 2003)

As one example of Franken's criticism, he mentions a comment in Slander which states "Bush had won any count" of the 2000 Florida recount, and cites a Washington Post article with the contrary headline, "Study Finds Gore Might Have Won Statewide Tally of All Uncounted Ballots". It could be argued that this is a misrepresentation, but it could also be argued that by "any count", Coulter meant any count that had been actually legally pursued by the Democrats rather than hypothetical cases (See U.S. Presidential Election, 2000: The Florida Ballot Project recounts).

Criticism of Treason and Slander

Treason, which contains many strident accusations against all liberals, brought her under fire, even from many conservatives (Rush Limbaugh, for example). Many felt her claim was unfounded that Democrats such as Presidents Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy had worked against America's war on communism. Treason's defense of Joe McCarthy also came under criticism from both liberals and conservatives, who argued that Coulter had simply failed to accurately research the facts in her attempt to rehabilitate the controversial senator. In an interview with David Bowman, Coulter said that Joe McCarthy is the deceased person she admires the most. Coulter claims in Treason that McCarthy was simply misunderstood and unappreciated and that the Venona cables have vindicated him, proving there indeed were Soviet spies in the State Department.

An article in the Columbia Journalism Review criticized Slander, claiming it contained numerous misstatements. [19] In Slander, Ann Coulter expounds the view that liberals are out of touch with America, and "have absolutely no contact with the society they decry from their Park Avenue redoubts." This echoed the sentiments of an August 2002 Newsday article, in which Ann Coulter argued that the media are biased to the left because Republicans don't have the wealth to start media outlets, while Democrats do. That Republicans are rich, she said, "is one of the stunning lies that Democrats have been able to palm off... Liberals really are the idle rich." [20] Joe Conason, the author of Big Lies, accuses Coulter of double standards, arguing that she is a highly-educated, affluent woman with a high-profile media presence who does not similarly accuse herself, or other privileged Republicans, of being out of touch. Conason goes on to point out that Coulter's critical nature is blunted by her pre-assumed opinions, making many of the conclusions she draws irrelevant to the actual nature of her arguments.

Quotations

The following quotes are examples of Ann Coulter's flamboyant and often inflammatory polemical style, for which she is well-known. Many view these quotes as humorous examples of tongue-in-cheek hyperbole or satire, while others take them more seriously. Coulter herself once stated, "Liberals love to pretend they don't understand hyperbole." However, she has also stated, "I believe everything I say." [21] Template:Wikiquote

  • ""We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren't punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That's war. And this is war."."[22]
  • "The ethic of conservation is the explicit abnegation of man's dominion over the Earth. The lower species are here for our use. God said so: Go forth, be fruitful, multiply, and rape the planet -- it's yours. That's our job: drilling, mining and stripping. Sweaters are the anti-Biblical view. Big gas-guzzling cars with phones and CD players and wet bars -- that's the Biblical view."[23]
  • "I have to say I'm all for public flogging. One type of criminal that a public humiliation might work particularly well with are the juvenile delinquents, a lot of whom consider it a badge of honor to be sent to juvenile detention. And it might not be such a cool thing in the 'hood to be flogged publicly." - MSNBC March 22, 1997
  • "It would be a much better country if women did not vote. That is simply a fact. In fact, in every presidential election since 1950 - except Goldwater in '64 - the Republican would have won, if only the men had voted." - [24] May 17, 2003
  • "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. They don't have the energy. If they had that much energy, they'd have indoor plumbing by now." - (from Slander, pp. 5-6; published June 2002)
  • "The Times was rushing to assure its readers that 'prominent Islamic scholars and theologians in the West say unequivocally that nothing in Islam countenances the Sept. 11 actions.' (That's if you set aside Muhammad's many specific instructions to kill nonbelievers whenever possible)" - How to Talk to a Liberal, 2004.

For more quotations from Ann Coulter, see her Wikiquote page.

References

Books by Ann Coulter

External links

Articles
Biography and quotes
Book Reviews
  • "Limerick, Dr. Rush" (September 9, 2002). Liberally lying about liberals. Rev. of Slander. slannder.homestead.com. Looks at chapter 2.
  • Buckley, William F. (Winter 2003). Tailgunner Ann. Rev. of Treason. Claremont Review of Books [on-line edition]. by biographer of Joseph McCarthy.
  • Horowitz, David (July 8, 2003). The trouble with Treason. Rev. of Treason. Frontpagemag.com. Article by a conservative both critical and praising.
  • Nyhan, Brendan (June 30, 2003). Screed. Rev. of Treason. spinsanity. Media analyst protests "complicated set of rhetorical tricks."
Criticism
Current events (fan sites and watch sites)
Interviews
  • Slander (June 26, 2002) Interview with Katie Couric. NBC. Today. Reprinted at Drudge Report Archive.
  • Slander (August 11, 2002) Interview with Brian Lamb. C-Span. Booknotes. Reprinted at Booknotes.org.
  • Treason (June 30, 2003) Interview with Chris Matthews. MSNBC. Hardball with Chris Matthews. Reprinted at the Rational Radical.
News features

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