Loading the player leg...
Concluding an hour-long interview with right-wing pundit Ann Coulter on the June 26 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews said: "We have sold a lot of her books tonight. I don't know if I can go to confession fast enough." Matthews' comment came after Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, called into the program to confront Coulter about her past comments regarding the Edwardses, including her November 19, 2003, column, in which she wrote: "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?" Responding to Elizabeth Edwards' comments, Coulter claimed that Edwards "is asking me to stop speaking," and dismissed Edwards' criticism of her November 2003 column by saying, "This is now three years ago." During his June 27 appearances on MSNBC Live, as well as on NBC's Today, Matthews discussed the confrontation between Elizabeth Edwards and Coulter. On Today, Matthews said of Coulter's 2003 statement regarding the Edwardses' son, "[Y]ou don't make jokes about those things in polite society." He added, "[I]n this case it involves a very personal tragedy and a family. When you lose a son in youth ... it never goes away. And to have someone rip away at it for journalistic or book-selling purposes obviously hurts." On MSNBC Live, Matthews repeated his line about needing to go to confession after interviewing Coulter -- this time describing himself as "kidding" and adding, "[W]e're all in this business." During a separate appearance on MSNBC Live that day, Matthews noted that the Hardball interview had been "very well timed" because Coulter's "paperback just came out the other day." Anchor Chris Jansing then asked Matthews if he was "feeling used," and he answered, "No, because we invited her on the show."
As Media Matters for America has documented, NBC and MSNBC have repeatedly provided Coulter a forum for her vitriol.
On June 27, the Hardball website featured a large image of Coulter, a poll question about her appearance, and four links under the headline: "More of the Coulter interview." From the website:
Coulter's Hardball appearance is just the latest example of MSNBC and its parent NBC hosting Coulter despite her ad hominem attacks and inflammatory rhetoric. As Media Matters noted, MSNBC host Tucker Carlson said in March, "[W]e're always happy to have her on," and described her as "great TV;" MSNBC hosts spent a day hyping a July 26, 2006, Coulter interview on CNBC in which she attacked former President Bill Clinton as a "latent homosexual"; and Matthews remarked that Coulter reminded him of "the young George Will" and said, "We'd love to have her back" during a July 27, 2006, Hardball interview in which she called former Vice President Al Gore "a total fag."
As Media Matters noted, on the June 25 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, Coulter said, in apparent reference to a comment by Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) in a June 23 speech, "I do think anyone named B. Hussein Obama should avoid using 'hijack' and 'religion' in the same sentence." And on the June 25 edition of Good Morning America, Coulter, referring to the criticism she received for calling Edwards a "faggot" at a March 2007 Conservative Political Action conference, said "Bill Maher was not joking and saying he wished [Vice President] Dick Cheney had been killed in a terrorist attack. So I've learned my lesson. If I'm going to say anything about John Edwards in the future, I'll just wish he has been killed in a terrorist assassination plot."
From the June 25 edition of MSNBC's Hardball:
MATTHEWS: And tomorrow, the always controversial -- and I know some people aren't going to like this and some are going to love it -- Ann Coulter. There she is last time she was here, with her sunglasses on, dressed for success. There's Ann Coulter out here. We're going to stake her out in the sun and find out what happens. What a show it's going to be. I think we're going to do the whole hour with her if she keeps it hot, and you bet she will. That's Ann Coulter tomorrow.
If you have any questions for this lady, just send them in to hardball.msnbc.com. And say what you will, she sells books.
From the June 26 edition of MSNBC's Hardball:
MATTHEWS: Ann Coulter, the name of the book is Godless. We have sold a lot of her books tonight. I don't know if I can go to confession fast enough. We will be right back tomorrow night with more Hardball. Thank you.
From the June 27 edition of NBC's Today:
MEREDITH VIEIRA (co-host): So is it politics getting personal, Chris, or is it just Ann Coulter being --
MATTHEWS: It has always been personal, and she's an agent provocateur. She sells huge numbers of books because I think a lot of relatively boring guys like to walk around carrying her books, to be honest with you. She's a very brilliant writer. She knows how to enrage, and she did it. This is very personal stuff. Unfortunately, you're dealing with a real-life situation with Ann [sic] Edwards' medical challenges, which we all know about, and the fact that they did lose their son Wade. And you don't make jokes about those things in polite society.
VIEIRA: Well, given the fact -- yeah, given the fact they did lose their son Wade, and here's Ann Coulter speaking with the mother of that young man, were you surprised that she didn't back down at all?
MATTHEWS: No, because I know Ann Coulter. And if she did back down, she wouldn't be selling millions of books. It's a way of charging up the political debate, from the right, in this case -- I'm sure the left is just as good at this. And in this case it involves a very personal tragedy and a family. When you lose a son in youth, and you have to live with that every second of your life -- and anyone who's familiar with these families knows what that's like -- it never goes away. And to have someone rip away at it for journalistic or book-selling purposes obviously hurts.
From the 9 a.m. ET hour of the June 27 edition of MSNBC Live:
JOE SCARBOROUGH (MSNBC host): The sad thing here is -- I mean, it helps the Edwards campaign but the other side of it is, the sad thing is, the sad part of it is it will also help Ann Coulter sell more books. I mean, Ann Coulter always wins. We saw it with the 9-11 widows, when she went after the 9-11 widows. Everybody went out and bought her book, even though it was just a throwaway line or two about the 9-11 widows.
JANSING: Well, then, in a weird --
SCARBOROUGH: This is what feeds Ann Coulter. It makes Ann Coulter happy, it makes her publishers happy, it makes her much, much wealthier.
JANSING: Why are you shaking your head, Chris?
MATTHEWS: Because her paperback just came out the other day, yesterday. I mean, this is very well timed.
JANSING: Are you feeling used, Chris?
MATTHEWS: No, because we invited her on the show.
JANSING: So it's a win-win situation. It makes people feel sympathetic -- many people feel sympathetic toward Elizabeth Edwards -- they're thinking about John Edwards' campaign again, and it helps Ann Coulter sell books. Win-win situation?
From the 10 a.m. ET hour of the June 27 edition of MSNBC Live:
MATTHEWS: Ann Coulter apparently wrote a column a couple years ago when where she said that John Edwards was driving around in a car with a bumper sticker that said, "Ask me about my dead son."
JANSING: You know, and when you look at it just from that perspective, you know, your initial reaction is Elizabeth Edwards, if this is the way to put it, wins this one. Although you make a good point: Ann Coulter speaks for a certain group of people who believe certain things, and I'm not sure she lost any points there last night with those people who follow her and buy her books. Do you?
MATTHEWS: No, I think that her book sales are probably brisk. She's selling the paperback right now. You know, I laughed on the way -- at the end of the program last night, I said she'll probably sell a lot of books because of last night, and therefore I have to go immediately to confession. But you know --
JANSING: Good Catholic boy that you are, Christopher.
MATTHEWS: Well, I obviously was kidding, but, you know, we're all in this business, and clearly some authors do very well by being agents of provocation.