Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Ann Coulter: The Case of the Malicious Maven

With her new book, Guilty: Liberal Victims and Their Assault on America, Ann Coulter returns again to attack her favorite targets, liberals. The biggest problem with trying to counter her assaults is that she brings a large array of disinformation, half-truths, and right-wing mythology that takes time and energy to debunk. Then, too, is her protean wit: when she is confronted by an obvious error or outright lie, she responds that she was only making a joke and attacks the targets of her barbs as “pussies” because they can't take a joke. Then there are her obscenities and her snide attacks, calculated both to make her fans laugh and to irritate her critics to the point where her books are unreadable.

So why bother? Why make the effort to criticize someone who is so illogical, so disorganized, and so ignorant?

Ann Coulter is a charismatic individual. She has a flamboyant personality that appeals to many people. She becomes more important as the void in Republican Party leadership spreads. She needs to be understood and refuted.

Beyond Dictionary Definitions

The first thing you notice about Ann Coulter's universe is that it resembles the fantasy worlds of Lewis Carroll. Many of the key words that are a part of normal discourse have been redefined. The most conspicuous of these is liberal, which Coulter redefines to mean “any person who is not a religious conservative or a Republican. An example of this is her fantastic claim that
every presidential assassin in the history of the nation has been a liberal—or has had no politics at all. None were right-wingers.[258]
John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, Sirhan Sirhan were all, she claims, liberals. This list is helpful in deciphering Coulter's language, because she clearly believes that Communists, Socialists, Anarchists, and Arab Nationalists are all liberals.
Another curious word usage is racist. Coulter accuses Jeremiah Wright of being a “racist” on the basis of anti-government rhetoric. But listen to what Wright said to a young African-American woman who wondered whether she should marry a white man:
Racial divisions [are] matter how great or prolonged the pain that caused them. God would not want us to assess or make decisions about people based on race. The world could make progress on issues of race only if people were prepared to break down barriers that were much easier to let stand.
Are those the words of a racist?
Now listen to the words of Nathan Hoss Rager from the pages of the Citizen Informer, newsletter of the Council of Concerned Conservatives (CCC), an organization of which Coulter says “there is no evidence on its Web page that it...supports segregation”[24]:
Whether you're a troubled stripper, disadvantaged and forgotten by society; or you're black in LaSalle Parish where white students enjoy the company of their own people, and David Duke carried over 62% in a US Senate race, society is always to blame. Maybe if we let some more non-White immigrants come in, and the government pays its welfare queens to have more illegitimate children, and the schools teach students about how bad white people made this country, then maybe we can move past our differences and live in brotherhood in our “new America.” After all, isn't south Africa better off?
Though Rager doesn't mention segregation, he does imply that South Africa was better off under apartheid, its version of segregation. Yes, this article is on the CCC web page, and yes, I'm sure that Coulter understands all the code words on the site.
But Coulter defends this organization even as she attacks Reverend Wright's church. She says that
Republican politicians who had given speeches to [the CCC] were branded sympathizers of white supremacists because some of the directors of the CCC had, decades earlier, been leaders of a segregationist group...[24]
The rhetoric of Coulter bears a strong similarity to that of Rager; the names are sometimes different but their targets remain the same. She calls daughters of single mothers “future strippers”[36] , while Rager just calls them strippers.
Rager talks about someone “disadvantaged and forgotten by society”; Coulter spends her first chapter talking about victims.
Instead of attacking “welfare queens”, Coulter attacks single mothers, saying “single motherhood is like a farm team for future criminals and social outcasts.”[38] She attacks single mothers for 38 pages, mostly trying to convince us that single mothers are phony victims who don't deserve our sympathy because they brought it on themselves.
The CCC statement of principles takes special exception to mixed marriages :
We believe in the traditional family as the basic unit of human society and morality, and we oppose all efforts by the state and other powers to weaken the structure of the American family through toleration of sexual licentiousness, homosexuality and other perversions, mixture of the races, pornography in all forms, and subversion of the authority of parents (italics mine).
So it comes as no surprise when Coulter criticizes African-Americans like Halle Berry, Alicia Keyes, and Barack Obama, who all had white mothers, for
representing themselves simply as "black"--the better to race-bait their way to success. [7]
She accuses Berry of "wild race-baiting" to win her 2002 Oscar, but doesn't offer a word of proof for her charge, other than briefly citing a line from Berry's acceptance speech:
claiming her award was "so much bigger than me." [7]
Coulter says that Obama's statement, "this election is bigger than me," is evidence of his "race-baiting" as well. But look at the context in that speech:
I still believe this election is bigger than me, or Senator Clinton, or Senator McCain. It’s bigger than Democrats versus Republicans. It’s about who we are as Americans. It’s about whether this country, at this moment, will continue to stand by while the wealthy few prosper at the expense of the hardworking many, or whether we’ll stand up and reclaim the American dream for every American.
There is no reference to race, no racial language, no attempt to incite or intimidate, any more than there was in Berry's acceptance speech.
Race-baiting is "an act of using racially derisive language, actions or other forms of communication, to anger, intimidate or incite a person or groups of people". Therefore, the actions and words of Obama and Berry are not race-baiting, since they do not use racially derisive language and they are not directed at any person or race.
The CCC newsletter, the Citizens Informer, used to be edited by Sam Francis, a gifted propagandist who was fired from the conservative Washington Times for advocating slavery, as reported on the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) website. The ADL also says the CCC
Advances its ideology by inflaming fears and resentments, among Southern whites particularly, with regard to black-on-white crime, non-white immigration, attacks on the public display of the Confederate flag, and other issues related to "traditional" Southern culture.
But Coulter finds nothing wrong with the CCC's endless recital of black on white violence:

apart from some aggressive reporting on black-on-white crimes--the very crimes that are aggressively hidden by the establishment media--the is little on the CCC website suggesting that the group is a "thinly veiled white supremacist" organization, as the New York Times calls it...[24]
Liberals as Victims
Coulter begins her book by asserting that liberals use victims to manipulate the soft-hearted American people into unwise political decisions. Liberals, says Coulter, are always pretending to be victims. They do this so that they can oppress the rest of us. She never explains exactly what mechanism they use to oppress us, other than that they arouse our sympathy to promote government programs for the victims:
But often the victims are nameless, faceless victims of repellent liberal policies that are promoted on behalf of counterfeit victims, such as single mothers or "the poor." [2]
Coulter starts by giving a examples of people who falsely claim to be victims. John Edwards was a "phony victim" who tried to get sympathy for his wife's cancer. Of course, there was nothing phony about her cancer. Coulter appears to argue that no one should feel sorry for Edwards' or his wife because he was having an affair at the time, which exempts him from the category of “victim”. Since Edwards' wife actually had cancer, she had no reason to conclude.
Democrats dredge up victim after victim, but it's hard to find one real story. [4]
If liberals need victims to increase the size and scope of government, conservatives like Coulter need enemies to attack. Coulter doesn't shy away from revealing her enemies by continuous attacks. They are the blacks, the Jews, the weak (whom she calls "pussies" or “women”), the poor, single mothers, atheists, liberal journalists, homosexuals who won't stay in the closet, Democrats, and liberals, a term she expands to include every presidential assassin in history [258].
Denying the existence of racism, she charges that the left is
constantly trying to gin up phony racial crises in a nation where none exist. They were finally willing to take a stand against racism at the precise moment that no one was for racism. [8]
Her language is a little vague here, because she doesn't explain what she means by "racial crisis". Nor does she explain what it means to be "for racism". But there are plenty of statistics to show that many racially motivated crimes are committed in the US annually. In 2007, the FBI reported 2,658 anti-black and 969 anti-Jewish hate crime incidents in the US. The Anti-Defamation League also tracks incidents of anti-Jewish racism, reporting a total of 1,554 in 2006.

Hate crimes are the public, verifiable manifestations of racial hatred and do not give an indication of how widespread or well-organized racists may be. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) lists 888 active hate organizations, the majority of them anti-black.
But Coulter is also making another charge altogether, against the Democratic party and not liberals in general: That the Democratic party had advocated Jim Crow laws and other racist policies, but stopped doing that after no one was "for" them any more. This is a distortion of the historical record.

While it's true that southern Democrats were the main proponents of racism, the northern democrats, called "liberals", had opposed them for a long time before the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Thanks to the liberals, led by Minnesota Senator Hubert Humphrey, the Democratic party platform in 1948 had a strong Civil Rights position in it, so strong in fact that many southerners bolted the party to run their own candidate, Strom Thurmond, on the Dixiecrat ticket.
The irony of Coulter's position here, and her support for Thurmond elsewhere[1], is that southern segregationists who left the Democratic party eventually found their way into the Republican party. Thurmond himself officially switched parties in 1964. Nixon enlisted the segregationists in the Republican party in 1968 with his "southern strategy", one of whose intentions was to delay integration and the granting of Civil Rights to southern blacks.
The Murder of Kirsten Brydum
In its 26 January 2009 blog, under the headline, "Kirsten Brydum: She died for your Stupidity!", the CCC "news team" describes the murder of a young woman in New Orleans on September 27, 2009:
Kirsten Brydum was an avowed Marxist and political activist from San Fransisco. She was so brainwashed by multicultural propaganda that she traveled the country by train to campaign for Barack Obama.
Fresh from protesting the evil GOP at the 2008 Republican National Convention, Kirsten arrived in New Orleans by Amtrack[sic] with just a suitcase and an old bicycle.
That’s when her naive idealism caught up with her. Kirsten was shot in the head while riding her bike through a black neighborhood. Her corpse sprawled on the sidewalk for several hours. None of the residents would even call the police. Police were finally notified by construction workers in the area the next day.
The press reported the murder as an “attempted robbery” even though nothing, not even her bicycle, was stolen. “Attempted robbery” is a common media decoy phrase for a racially motivated attack on a white person by a non-white.
What came next was even more shocking. Her own Marxist friends posted online memorials, but would not even mention how she died. The enlightened San Fransisco Chronicle ran a column insulting Kirsten instead of talking about rampant black on white violence and murder. The San Fransisco Chronicle wanted to make sure more idiot whites, drunk on the cult of multiculturalism, keep following in Kirsten’s fatal footsteps.
This article is similar to others that Coulter calls “aggressive reporting”. But since some of the details are incorrect, perhaps intentionally so, and there are a number of racist code words, the article is not reporting at all. It is a propaganda piece intended to arouse racial anger and support the contention that this was a racially motivated, black-on-white crime.
  • Marxist is the code word used by the CCC to describe anyone they wish to attack. Coulter uses the word liberal in the same way.
  • Kirsten was visiting anarchist cells around the country, not working for Obama. Both because he is African-American and because he espouses a liberal philosophy, his name arouses the ire of the CCC's target audience. In addition, white campaign workers had flooded the south to campaign for him.
  • The bicycle was borrowed from a friend in New Orleans, not brought on the train. Amtrak and bicycle are words that arouse hostility of the target audience, who see them as part of a liberal assault on the automobile.
  • Since the he bicycle was not found with her, so she probably was not shot while riding it.
  • Kirsten's wallet was not found with the body and police were unable to identify her for two days.
  • Neighbors notified police that shots had been fired at 8:30 AM. Since the police found her shortly thereafter, she had not lain unnoticed for hours. This falsehood reinforces negative stereotypes about blacks.
  • The column run in the Chronicle is a tender memorial to Kirsten, ending with a touching quote from her diary.
  • Kirsten's friends posted moving memorials to her. More than 77,000 people have visited the main website.
  • There is no evidence that Kirsten was killed by an African American, nor is there any indication that the crime was racially motivated.
  • Cult of Multiculturalism is any attempt at racial reconciliation. According the the CCC Statement of Principles,
We believe that education should inform and build the mind and character, not brainwash children with political propaganda or “liberate” them from the traditional values and loyalties their families have taught them. We therefore oppose all “sex education” as well as so-called “multiculturalist” and “Afrocentric” curricula, “Outcome-Based Education,” and similar radical indoctrination in the schools.
The sources for the actual facts of the case and the memorials can be found here.

This particular article was not on the site when Coulter looked at it, but there are many, many others like it that she did see.

Trouble With Statistics

Coulter has difficulty with statistics, both in saying where she found them and understanding them. Without giving a source, she estimates the membership of the Ku Klux Klan at less than 1,000. [8] Organizations who make it their business to track such things place the number at 5,000 to 8,000.

In a section attacking Barbara Ehrenreich, Coulter claims that
domestic abuse is virtually non-existent for married women living with their husbands [58]
To support this claim, Coulter cites a US Justice Department (DOJ) survey that apparently shows the rate of abuse for married women was just 0.9 per 1000 in 2005, while the rate was 49.0 per 1000 for women who were separated. [57]

But this is a complete distortion of the actual meaning of the survey statistics. The survey interviewed women who may have been abused and noted what their marital status was at the time of the interview, not at the time of the abuse. In order to draw the conclusion she did, Coulter had to ignore the text accompanying the statistics:
it is not possible to determine whether a person was separated or divorced at the time of the interview or whether the separation or divorce followed the violence.
Common sense should tell you that separated and divorced couples will have fewer incidents of spousal abuse, if only because they no longer live under the same roof.
A key to good statistical analysis is the selection of valid studies, usually from peer reviewed journals. To support her attack on single mothers, Coulter takes statistics from a 2002 article in the Village Voice, which in turn had taken them from an organization called Fathers' Rights and Equality Exchange. The article's author says the group is "admittedly probably not entirely unbiased". Coulter reports the statistics without commenting on the unreliability of their source.

But even if the statistics are valid, they still don't prove anything, primarily because they rely on the logical fallacy, post hoc ergo propter hoc. This type of logic assumes that whatever happens must have been caused by something that preceded. Using this logic, you could prove that a rooster crowing causes the sun to rise. A child's lack of a father is only one indicator of possible problems; there are many others.

When Coulter looks at studies that do consider other indicators, she concludes
Controlling for socioeconomic status, race, and place of residence, the strongest predictor of whether a person will end up in prison is that he was raised by a single parent. [37]
But at least one of the studies she cites as a source does not at all support this statement. Instead it concludes in its abstract,
a sizable portion of the risk that appeared to be due to father absence could actually be attributed to other factors, such as teen motherhood, low parent education, racial inequalities, and poverty.
While concluding that father-absent homes still accounted for elevated risk of incarceration, the same study goes on to say that
The adolescents who faced the highest incarceration risks, however, were those in stepparent families, including father–stepmother families.
Both of these findings directly contradict Coulter's conclusion:
Look at almost any societal program and you will find it is really a problem of single mothers. [36]
Taking her bogus statistics at face value, Coulter assumes that, if we could just get rid of single mothers, we could get rid of all those criminals (who, remember, are not just products of fatherless homes, but also poverty, discrimination, teen pregnancy, and parental ignorance). So she gushes,
Imagine an America with 70 percent fewer juvenile delinquents, 63 to 70 percent fewer teenage suicides, and 70 to 90 percent fewer runaways... [38]
This conclusion too has no merit. Since many other factors affect the incidence of juvenile delinquents, teenage suicides, and runaways, even eliminating all illegitimate births would only reduce these statistics by a small amount.
So how does Coulter suggest that we solve the problem of single mothers?
Keep your knees together before marriage and graduate from high school. [41]
In other words, give young women abstinence-only sex education and our problems will be solved. But abstinence-only sex education programs have been shown to increase the incidence of pregnancy. The lowest adolescent pregnancy rate in the world belong to the Netherlands, whose sex-education program is characterized by “sex education, open discussions on sexuality in mass media, educational campaigns and low barrier services.” In other words, the exact opposite of abstinence only training combined with expensive or nonexistent medical services.

Single Mothers

In support of her attacks on single mothers, Coulter enlists Charles Murray, whom she calls "the eminent social scientist" [37]. But Murray could better be described as the author of a controversial book, The Bell Curve in which he asserts that, based on intelligence tests, African-Americans are inferior to white Americans and that this inferiority cannot be helped by education. Therefore, he concludes (as reported in Slate Magazine)
Any efforts government might make to improve the economic opportunities of poor people, especially poor black people, are likely to fail, because their poverty is so much the result of inherited low intelligence.
Coulter makes yet another unsubstantiated attack against liberals:
While liberals go around physically assaulting conservatives, they pretend to live in terror of jack-booted racist thugs. [9]
She doesn't list any examples to support her charge. Although there are many racially motivated attacks, against both whites and African-Americans, there is no evidence that liberals are systematically attacking conservatives.


Coulter also interweaves her text with racist slurs and offensive epithets. Her similes often have crude sexual contexts. She says Monique De Wael, a writer who pretended to be a holocaust survivor
did everything she could think of to sound more Jewish but complain about being seated too close to the air conditioner.
Although De Wael is not a Democrat and never lived in the US, she still becomes an example of someone who makes herself a victim, something that Coulter claims is a universal characteristic of liberals.

Coulter calls Newsweek contributing editor Eleanor Clift a "braying left-wing slattern" partly because Clift named Bill Clinton the Biggest Winner of the year on the McLaughlin Group.

She describes New York Times columnist Paul Krugman as "eager to win his presidential knee pads" [185] and describes him numerous times as a cross-dresser.


Another word that Coulter has trouble defining--along with racism, race-baiting, and segregation--is hypocrisy. When Chris Matthews of MSNBC criticized Larry Craig as a
cultural warrior of the right, as both a sexual deviant and a world-class hypocrite[29]
Coulter replies
Naturally the media claims Larry Craig was a hypocrite because he opposed gay marriage—and yet he propositioned an undercover cop in a public bathroom.[29]
But here she purposely misses the point that Matthews was making, that being simultaneously gay and a cultural warrior of the right is hypocritical. Coulter later says
Only liberals consider it offensive for a gay person to have strong morals.[31]
Matthews's point is that claiming to have a moral code that you personally ignore is the definition of hypocrisy. Coulter denies this definition. For her, “strong morals” is a code word, along with “family values”, which describes a certain set of beliefs and policies. Therefore, you can only have “strong morals” if you support “family values”. If you do that, you may behave immorally, but you still support family values, and therefore you can't be hypocritical. For her, it doesn't matter if you are homosexual, so long as you keep it a secret, get married, and support legislation that discriminates against gays.

Defamatory Attacks
Coulter criticizes Newsweek's Jonathan Alter for referring to the Franklin sex scandal as an example of "conservative-hypocrisy", since the Franklin sex scandal turned out to be a hoax. She pounces on Alter like a vulture on a carcass, even though his entire reference to the crisis consisted of the phrase,
the Franklin child-sex ring, which ensnared more than a dozen officials in the Reagan and first Bush administrations.
That's it, no names, no details, no nothing. But Coulter declares this
the most vile lie ever spread by the establishment media. No right-wing radio host has ever propagated such a fraud.[30]
Coulter cites a 15 Dec 1988 New York Times article as the source of the hoax and concludes by saying
Even the Times must have smelled a rat because after one story mentioning the investigation there were no further articles on foster child sex orgies until July 1990, when the Times reported that the story was a hoax.[30]
Alter had hist facts wrong, but he was only using the scandal as background for his article. Contrast this with the 29 June 1989 front-page, six-column, banner headline story in the conservative Washington Times. If Alter's 19-word reference is “the most vile lie ever spread”, what would Coulter call the article in the Washington Times? What about the more than 15 other articles about the scandal run by the Washington Times between 20 June 1989 and 2 February 1990?
In fact, Coulter ignores the Washington Times smear campaign. By this time, we recognize the pattern. Coulter attacks liberals for a variety of reasons. The same acts, when performed by conservatives, she either praises or doesn't mention. She inhabits a Manichaean world, where people are either all good or all bad. An action like rumor mongering, as in the case of the Washington Times, becomes good if it was done for a good reason, such as electing a Republican. A minor slip, like Alter's, becomes the “most vile lie ever spread.”

The single article that appeared in the New York Times was only tangentially about the sex scandal. It made no accusations, instead questioning the whole sex-abuse aspect of the case:
The various investigators, their efforts barely begun, decline to speak of them in detail. Mr. Chambers himself says he wants to disclose just enough to encourage those with information on the affair to give testimony before the legislative committee.
As a result, there are these large gaps in public knowledge about the case, among others:
* If child prostitution was involved, how vast was it?
* If foster homes were involved, which ones?

No contrast could be more dramatic than between the restraint of the New York Times and the sensationalism of the Washington Times. Yet it is the New York paper that Coulter accuses of bias.

Coulter rehashes the Alger Hiss case. She states that John Dean, in Blind Ambition, his memoir of the Watergate scandal, claimed
he overheard Nixon saying the "typewriters are always the key. We built one in the Hiss case."[124]
This, says Coulter, was proved a "bald-faced lie about twenty years later", referring to Soviet documents that implicated Hiss. But Dean wrote that Charles Colson had given him the provocative Nixon quote, not that he had "overheard it". So Coulter's statement is false and her accusation against Dean has no merit.

One aspect of Coulter's style is her habit of making things up, quotes from newspapers or individuals, usually giving vent to her sarcastic wit. For example, she states that Reagan's budget director, David Stockton, intended to write a book called, "The Internet Will Never Take Off". It's a funny title for a book but it has nothing to do with Stockton, anything he said, or anything he did. It comes in the middle of a passage where she criticizes the book he did write, The Triumph of Politics: How the Reagan Revolution Failed.[125]

Coulter frequently uses sarcastic asides instead of reasoned argument to attack her victims. In the next sentence, Coulter criticizes Stockton for misusing the word "literally", instead of addressing the truth or falsehood of the statement in which the offending word appears.

She goes on to comment
Damn that Reagan! What a crafty, mildly retarded, evil-genius, yet senile bad guy he turned out to be![125]
Most of her humor, like Reagan's, may amuse her target audience, but offend many others. It also serves the function of annoying political adversaries, who might otherwise read her books and publicize her falsehoods and distortions.

Coulter does not recognize her internal contradictions, so eager is she to attack her chosen enemies. At one point, she attacks media personalities for being taken in by frauds, as when Dan Rather accepted a story about G. W. Bush's National Guard service at face value, only to discover it was based on a forged letter. This, she says, is an example of the liberal bias of the media. She doesn't mention that Rather lost his job as a result of his poor judgment, an indication that CBS executives may not have a liberal bias, and are quite willing to punish those who do.

Fox News Frauds
Coulter makes the startling claim that "Fox News has never been caught promoting a fraud" [15] the way CBS, ABC, and CNN had been.
Media Matters records an incident where Steve Doocy found a school prank on the internet and reported it as fact.
Another, more serious case of Fox propagating a fraud was reported in a PBS documentary. The fabricated story that Obama is a Muslim and hiding it appeared first in a 16 January 2007, article on the website of Insight, a sister publication of the conservative Washington Times. The article was entitled, "Hillary's Team Has Questions About Obama's Muslim Background", and claimed that Obama had attended a madrassa as a young boy in Indonesia.
Fox News took up the story the next day on its morning program, Fox & Friends.

Gretchen Carlson: Something that he left out of his book, that apparently when he was a young boy, he attended a Muslim school.
Later that day it was picked up by Fox News:
Announcer: What we have heard about, coming out of the madrassa schools over in Indonesia...This is huge!
The next day Hillary's campaign denied any connection to the story and called the piece a "right-wing hit job.” Nevertheless, Fox's conservative host John Gibson reported the story again on 19 January 2007. Four days later, while admitting that right-wing host Glenn Beck had reported the rumor as fact on CNN Headline News, CNN took a camera crew over to Indonesia and showed the school that Obama attended to be an ordinary public school, not a madrassa.

Nevertheless, as PBS reported, seven months later the “madrassa” lie was used to smear Obama in an email campaign in South Carolina.
A slightly different form of confusion of fact and fiction occurred when Fox personalities confused the fictional tv series "24" with reality. Speaking of the fictional character Jack Bauer, Gretchen Carlson said, "All he does is tell the truth," when the show's plot called for him to testify before Congress about torture. Other people on the show agreed with her, but the only person cited as an "expert" on torture was Jack Bauer, who is not even a real person.

Coulter accuses the New York Times of bias by claiming that the Times did not list the charges against Mike Wooten, Sarah Palin's brother-in-law, in their coverage of the incident. This charge is false. Although the article reporting the findings of a legislative investigation did not enumerate the charges, the Times did list the charges in an article on 29 August 2008:
An internal police investigation conducted in 2005, prompted by complaints from Ms. McCann and her family, eventually resulted in Mr. Wooten’s being suspended for illegally shooting a moose and using a Taser on his stepson, although most of the complaints were dismissed...the findings of a private detective the family had hired to investigate Mr. Wooten...accused him of a variety of transgressions, including drunken driving and child abuse. Mr. [Todd] Palin told the newspaper that Mr. Wooten had made threats against his wife and her family.
This does point out one interesting aspect of Coulter's attack on what she calls liberal establishment media. She does not claim that the liberal media never report facts that favor the conservatives, but that they do not keep on reporting them often enough. Fox news/talk shows frequently repeat the same sound bytes, which they consider damaging to liberals, over and over again. Coulter seems to require repetition.

During the 2008 campaign, Fox radio commentators used this tactic by playing a clip of one of Jeremiah Wright's sermons, which was supposed to prove that Obama was racist and unpatriotic, over and over again. They could not have believed that they were informing people of something they didn't know. Instead, they had to believe that if they played the clips often enough, their listeners would come to believe the associated charges to be true. This is not fair and balanced, nor even journalism; it is propaganda.

Coulter also criticizes the New York Times for not publishing allegations against John Edwards after the National Enquirer broke the story. She seems oblivious to the fact that the Enquirer publishes stories without bothering to investigate them. The facts of the Edwards case were in doubt until the Edwards released a statement and appeared on ABC to make his confession. The Times published the entire statement, plus a statement that his wife made, on the same day, 8 August 2008. Coulter claims the timing of the story is an example of media bias, since the Olympics held their opening ceremonies that day. It was no coincidence that Edwards chose a moment when attention would be focused elsewhere, but the timing was chosen by him, not ABC News or the Times.

Coulter claims
The Bush campaign did not spread rumors that John McCain had a black illegitimate child during the 2000 GOP campaign [192]
The source she cites for this is an article in the National Review, a prominent right-wing publication. The original source of the story was the McCain campaign, not a left-wing media source. A PBS documentary interviewed several South Carolina political insiders on dirty politics in the state, evincing this comment from Will Folks, who writes a blog about South Carolina politics:
David Brancaccio: Who do you think was the author of that attack on McCain?
Will Folks, political consultant: (laughs) Everybody knows who the author was. Warren Tompkins.
Other experts on South Carolina smear campaigns spoke in the same documentary:
Scott Huffmon, Political Science Professor: People calling and saying did you know John McCain had a black baby out of wedlock?...

Rod Shealy, longtime South Carolina politico and disciple of Lee Atwater: Your challenge as a campaign is to damage your opponent without getting caught doing it...

Will Folks: They scorched the earth to win that primary.
Jay Carney, former Washington Bureau Chief for Time Magazine, wrote in a blog entry,
The Bush campaign -- including Tompkins -- claimed no complicity in the slander, an assertion taken at face value by exactly no one with any experience in South Carolina GOP politics.
Finally, a New York Times article reported that
A smear campaign during the primary in February 2000...had many in South Carolina falsely believing that Mr. McCain’s wife, Cindy, was a drug addict and that the couple’s adopted daughter, Bridget, was the product of an illicit union. Mr. McCain’s patriotism, mental well-being and sexuality were also viciously called into question.
The same PBS documentary reported that, by the time of the 2008 South Carolina primary, Warren Tompkins was working for Mitt Romney, but the techniques were still the same. A web site called “PhoneyFred” appeared containing disinformation about Fred Thompson, including pictures of Thompson in costume with labels like “Pimp Fred”, “Moron Fred”, and “Playboy Fred”. The site was taken down after the Washington Post traced it to a firm run by Tompkins.
Two Minute Hate
In his dystopian classic, 1984, George Orwell describes a technique called “two minute hate”. The citizens of Oceania were required to gather every day to renew the hatred they felt for their rivals in a perpetual war.
For her part, Coulter can't get enough of 9/11. She criticizes the New York Times for growing bored with the anniversary. Idoes she believe there something new to be said or learned about 9/11? Coulter explains that
liberals are not merely bored with 9/11, they fear that reminders of 9/11 will anger Americans and reawaken their fighting spirit.[183]
The idea that playing the gruesome scene over and over again may be somehow beneficial is macabre, to say the least. But Coulter goes even further.

Continuing her theme, Coulter says of 9/11,
I think it should be mentioned at the start of each school day...On Every anniversary we should have wall-to-wall TV coverage of the savage attack lest anyone, ever, anywhere, forget what those animals did to us.[183]
Note that Coulter deliberately dehumanizes the perpetrators of 9/11. Her idea of indoctrinating children can only be understood in the context of a never-ending war that our children and their children will be fighting a generation hence.
Clinton's Pseudoscandals
Contrary to Coulter's belief in a liberal bias in the media, the media scandals of the Clinton era--Whitewater, Troopergate, Travelgate, Filegate, Christmas-card gate, and the trashing of the White House by Clinton staffers when they handed over the premises to the Bush administration—were all covered ad nauseam by the media. Coulter notes that Paul Krugman called these "pseudoscandals", but she claims that each of them is "a far more serious scandal than anything the media ever managed to produce against the Bush administration." She also claims, predictably, that none of these scandals "could be described as having received overwhelming media attention."[184]

Here again her appetite for repetition must be enormous. Media Matters reports
A Nexis search yields 539 hits for "Clinton and Whitewater" in the The New York Times between January 1 and October 26, 1996 -- nearly two per day.
But that wasn't enough for Coulter. She argues against Krugman's calling this a "pseudoscandal" by counting up the number of felony convictions associated with the Whitewater development company.

But Krugman was referring to the Whitewater issues as they related to the Clintons, for there were thousands of articles and a $60 million investigation which all ended up showing that the Clintons had no criminal liability. It was a pseudoscandal because the press covered it as a scandal but ultimately the Clintons had no criminal exposure.

The Whitewater controversy began with an article in the New York Times, supposedly a newspaper with a liberal bias. The Times continued to carry a hundreds of articles about the land development deal. One of the main forces behind the media obsession with Whitewater was a little-known organization called Citizens United. According to a May 1994 article by Trudy Lieberman that appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review,
The character issue can be turned on the press, which has shamelessly taken the hand-outs dished up by a highly partisan organization, with revenues of more than $2 million a year, without identifying the group as the source of their information.
Filegate was another investigation by the special prosecutor's office, and again the Clintons were exonerated of all wrongdoing. Coulter compares this incident, where a White House employee illegally obtained 900 confidential FBI files, to the confidential FBI file that Chuck Colson leaked to the press, intending to smear Daniel Ellsberg, saying
if that's a pseudoscandal, someone owes Nixon Aide Charles Colson three years of his life back. [188]
The problem here is that Colson was not accused merely of possessing an FBI file. He plead guilty to obstruction of justice for using the contents of that file to deny Ellsberg a fair trial. Colson actually served seven months in prison for this crime, not three years. In addition, he had the opportunity to avoid going to jail at all, but refused to cooperate with the Watergate special prosecutor. So the comparison is not even remotely accurate, yet another example of how Coulter cherry-picks historical details to support her attacks.

Inventing History
In her last chapter, Coulter revs up her attack on what she calls “liberals” by claiming that
every presidential assassin in the history of the nation has been a liberal—or has had no politics at all. None were right-wingers.[258]
This statement is not just an error; it shows a complete disregard for historical scholarship. In the first place, the modern American concepts of liberalism were not established by Herbert Croly until 1908. In her ignorance, Coulter evidently assumes that the same relationship between the political parties existed in the 19th century as exists today. Also, she believes that Theodore Roosevelt was serving a third term as president when he survived an assassination attempt in 1908[258].
Notwithstanding the difficulties inherent in the task, here is my partial list of American assassins. (Left-wingers: 0; right-wingers: 5; other: 1; insane: 6)
  • John Wilkes Booth (assassin of Lincoln) was a pro-slavery secessionist and States-Rights advocate. Through the years, those positions came to be identified with southern conservatives. He also belonged to the Know Nothing Party, which opposed immigration, a position more closely identified with the Republicans of today. So Booth was definitely a right winger.
  • Charles Guiteau (assassin of Garfield) was a political chameleon whose opinions changed with each new obsession. Coulter describes him as having “a long relationship with a Utopian commune called the Oneida Community, where free love and communal child-rearing were practice.” [258] Far from being a liberal group, the Oneida Community was a theocracy, basing its practices on a unique interpretation of Christian scripture. Their idea of free love resembled a group marriage or polygamy. After failing to be accepted by the Community, Guiteau became a Republican and a strong supporter of President Garfield. He was definitely a right-winger.
  • Leon Czolgosz (assassin of McKinley) was interested in socialism and anarchy, but he was a registered Republican who had voted in the Republican primary in Cleveland. He tried to join an anarchist group in Chicago or Cleveland, but the anarchists rejected him as a possible spy. Since the anarchists rejected him but the Republicans did not, he was a right-winger.
  • John Schrank (attempted to kill Theodore Roosevelt) was also a Republican and a profoundly religious Bible scholar. He was definitely a right-winger, since he claimed the ghost of Republican President William McKinley had advised him in a dream to assassinate Theodore Roosevelt. [258]
  • Giuseppe Zangara (attempted to kill F. D. Roosevelt; killed Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak instead) was convinced the President of the United States was supernaturally causing him pain. Since he wanted to kill both Hoover and Roosevelt, and because he raved against both kings and capitalist presidents, Zangara seemed too incompetent to form a coherent political idea. Insane but politically neutral.
The Most Magnificent Campaign Ads In Political History

Coulter makes a number of statements that she says “over and over again, conservatives are forced to remind people”. Among these is the claim that “the Bush campaign did not spread rumors that John McCain had a black illegitimate child during the 2000 GOP primary”[192][see above for comments]. Another is that
The Willie Horton ads were the most magnificent campaign ads in political history.[192]
The Willie Horton ads, featuring a dark-skinned African-American and other ethnic minorities being released from prison, frightened white Americans and placed the blame for violent crime on liberals in general and Michael Dukakis in particular. Dukakis lost so badly that it's hard to credit his defeat to any one factor, but the ads were effective. They were, however, a vicious smear with racial overtones of the kind that epitomized the career of Lee Atwater, George H. W. Bush's campaign manager at the time (1988).
Such ads “play to the base” of Republican support. They energize their supporters and help ensure a large turnout. They demoralize their opponents and keep their supporters away from the polls.
There are several problems with these kinds of ads. If you continue smearing your opponents using racial attacks, you will alienate black voters and others who identify with their struggle. Republicans may complain that African-Americans seldom vote for them, but they have only themselves to blame.
Furthermore, the deceit and arrogance of these tactics have a cumulative effect, which has resulted in the Republican party losing support among independents. One reason Obama's “high road” campaign worked in 2008 was because the electorate already identified Republicans as the practitioners of dirty politics. They remembered “the most magnificent campaign ads” and associated them with McCain, even though he himself had been victimized by Atwater's disciples in South Carolina.
But Coulter's tactics are all slash and burn. She doesn't care that many people would find her attacks on single mothers heartless and cruel. She thinks it acceptable to attack celebrities because their fathers were African-American. Perhaps she should remember what Lee Atwater himself said of his own career.
Lee Atwater, the godfather of Republican disinformation campaigns and mentor of Carl Rove and Walther Tompkins apologized for his activities in politics, which included the Willie Horton ads that Coulter calls the best ever. When he knew he was dying with incurable cancer in 1991, Atwater said in a Life Magazine article:
My illness helped me to see that what was missing in society is what was missing in me: a little heart, a lot of brotherhood. The '80s were about acquiring -- acquiring wealth, power, prestige. I know. I acquired more wealth, power, and prestige than most. But you can acquire all you want and still feel empty. What power wouldn't I trade for a little more time with my family? What price wouldn't I pay for an evening with friends? It took a deadly illness to put me eye to eye with that truth, but it is a truth that the country, caught up in its ruthless ambitions and moral decay, can learn on my dime. I don't know who will lead us through the '90s, but they must be made to speak to this spiritual vacuum at the heart of American society, this tumor of the soul.
[Note on Kirsten Brydum: Far from appearing to be a "black-on-white" crime, this crime is reminiscent of the murders of freedom riders in the deep south in the 1950s and 1960s. Note that the writers assume that she was working for Obama, one of many young white people who came south to work on the Obama campaign. Note also, as is indicated in actual newspaper articles, that she left a club alone at 1:30 AM but was not killed until 8:30 AM the following morning. This raises the question, what was she doing in that time? My guess is that she may have been interrogated by her captors before being assassinated for her political beliefs. I suggest that the U. S. Attorney in New Orleans should investigate this crime as a Civil Rights violation.]
Allan Masri has a blog at

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