In defending right-wing pundit Ann Coulter's speech attacking former U.S. Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) as a "faggot," Newsradio 850 KOA host Jon Caldara parroted a conservative talking point that Coulter's remark was a botched "joke." Further, in his attempt to explain Coulter's use of the word, Caldara used derogatory stereotypes to characterize homosexual men.
During the March 5 broadcast of his Newsradio 850 KOA radio show, Jon Caldara attempted to defend frequent guest Ann Coulter's verbal attack on former U.S. Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) as a "faggot" by claiming the epithet was "a joke that just didn't have a solid point of reference." Caldara's defense of Coulter echoed a conservative pattern of justifying her use of the word "faggot" in a speech by explaining that she wasn't "really calling ... Edwards gay." Caldara also attempted to explain Coulter's use of the word by using stereotypes to describe gay men.
From Coulter's March 2 speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC):
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.
During his show, Caldara asked his listeners if Coulter was "really calling John ... Edwards gay?" and attempted to defend her by using the example of a person "on the left" calling President Bush a "Nazi":
CALDARA: The question is, was she really calling John Andrew -- Edwards gay? That he's a homosexual? I don't think so, because he's married; he's got a couple kids; I don't think he's gay. Was it a taunt? Is this a word you can't use? And are there words on the left you can use? Can you call people fascists? Can you call them Nazis? And by the way, George Bush is neither a fascist nor a Nazi. But it's -- it's OK to call him that. So, when this goes the other direction, why is it wrong?
Later in the broadcast, Caldara indicated Coulter was alluding to Grey's Anatomy television star Isaiah Washington reportedly having agreed in January to enter "rehab" after directing the same anti-gay slur at his co-star T.R. Knight, who subsequently affirmed publicly that he is gay. But, in a possible reference to Coulter's comment that former President Bill Clinton exhibits "some level of latent homosexuality," Caldara also asserted that "most gay men are very promiscuous" and that "gay men are known for having a lot of different partners." Caldara also suggested that if the audience laughs, the joke's teller is absolved of criticism "[n]o matter how dirty, disgusting, awful, racist, whatever the joke is."
From the March 5 broadcast of Newsradio 850 KOA's The Jon Caldara Show:
CALLER: I saw it live on Friday, so -- on C-SPAN. The other thing is, was the controversy at last year's CPAC. You know, that's about the time she made the Jersey Girls column, but it was when she called Muslims ragheads --
CALLER: -- at her speech at CPAC.
CALDARA: Aah. And that one went over pretty well, if I recall, and --
CALLER: Yeah, that wasn't as bad as this.
CALDARA: -- and -- and -- and somebody -- if I recall, I wasn't there for that one. What I recall -- somebody telling me this -- they raised their hand and said, you know, "Ann, don't you think that you go too far with this? It's -- we can't say those type of things." And she came up with a terrific line which is, you've been used before, but never in front of this crowd, and I'll give you the line in a second. The crowd, you need to know, is not just fiscal conservatives, like me. There are also a lot of social conservatives, unlike me. So there are a lot of people who are easily offended by naughty words. And she -- she called those -- "Oh, you know, we gotta stop worrying about the conservo -- and then she used -- she used the word that -- that you use for pussy-cat. And I thought it was funny, because I'm tired of those conservo-blanks as well. And she used that line in front of 2,000 people in this room -- many of whom, you know, couldn't use that word if -- if a gun was put to their head. So, that is where she -- she drew -- drew the line, and she did so in a funny way and got a huge round of applause. This one was different. The question is, was she really calling John Andrew -- Edwards gay? That he's a homosexual? I don't think so, because he's married; he's got a couple kids; I don't think he's gay. Was it a taunt? Is this a word you can't use? And are there words on the left you can use? Can you call people fascists? Can you call them Nazis? And by the way, George Bush is neither a fascist nor a Nazi. But it's -- it's OK to call him that. So, when this goes the other direction, why is it wrong?
CALDARA: Here's the rule about jokes and being offensive. Is that if they laugh, then they can't be offended. No matter how dirty, disgusting, awful, racist, whatever the joke is, if your audience is laughing--
CALDARA: -- they can't get you on it.
CALDARA: Now, the difference here is, her audience was a very, very conservative group called CPAC. It's part of the American Conservative Union. It's their big annual event. And her audience liked the joke. But of course, cameras are rolling, and that joke was brought to the entire audience of -- of everybody who's politically savvy. They didn't find this joke funny. Now, I -- I -- I look --I look at the joke, and the joke was -- I get the joke. I get it was a joke on Isaiah Washington in that he had to, quote, "go to rehab."
CALDARA: If she was using it to say wussy-boy -- if she was using it not to say "homosexual," but to say "weenie," that this boy -- person is a wuss --
CALDARA: -- that works. Now, with Bill Clinton, if she's using it to say he's promiscuous like gay men are promiscuous -- and let's be honest, as most gay men are very promiscuous -- there -- there are -- mind you, some -- some are remarkably faithful to their lovers. But there's -- gay men are known for having a lot of different partners. The gay friends I have, they've had a lot of partners. It amazes me.
CALDARA: Was she really calling John Edwards a "faggot"? No. According to her, she was not. She was taunting him. That's a pretty good taunt, I suppose. Why that taunt? Because it was a play off of Isaiah Washington's quote, "going to rehab," to atone for the sins of using the f-word to describe one of his cast mates from Grey's Anatomy. Hmm. Work for you? Doesn't really work for me. I'm not defending Ann Coulter. I'm not defending what she said. I am describing it for what it was. It was a joke that just didn't have a solid point of reference. There are some things you can make a good joke about, and everyone knows what you're talking about. This one, the failure was -- not everybody understood it.
CALDARA: Let me reword her joke. If she reworded her joke thusly, I think she would have escaped. I don't think it would have been a story. If she said --
CALLER: I think she should have just called him a nancy-boy straight up, because that's what he is.
CALDARA: Well, but, yeah, but -- but it doesn't make fun of -- of Isaiah Washington. If she said, "Yeah, I've been asked about -- what I think of John Edwards, but -- but seeing that Isaiah Washington was forced into rehab for using the word 'faggot,' I have no comment." Now, if -- if she had worded it that way, it would have been a little -- one, it would have reminded people what the rehab joke was.
CALDARA: And also, it -- it --it would have been a little more subtle, if, if, if there's such a thing. So there would be a way for her to get that joke out without it going out the way it did.