On the June 28 edition of MSNBC Live, anchor Chris Jansing interviewed Elizabeth Edwards, wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, about her exchange with right-wing pundit Ann Coulter on the June 26 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, in which Edwards asked Coulter to stop making "personal attacks" against her husband and others. At one point during the interview, Jansing said to Edwards: "There are people who support your opinion, I'm sure you know, who say, 'Why even dignify it with a response? Why give Ann Coulter more publicity?' "
Jansing followed up her question by asking Elizabeth Edwards: "Was this about fundraising? Was this about provoking an argument to get publicity for your husband's campaign?" Edwards responded: "Well, I think that you can check with the NBC bookers that I had nothing to do with booking Ann Coulter before the end of the fundraising quarter."
Meanwhile, the June 28 broadcast of Today featured National Review White House correspondent Byron York suggesting an equivalence between Coulter's rhetoric and the Edwards campaign's response to it, claiming that people "outside of the political world" would be as upset with the fact that the Edwards campaign highlighted Elizabeth Edwards' confrontation with Coulter in their fundraising effort as they would be with Coulter's remarks. According to York: "As they say in the business world, there was a revenue component for both sides about this. If anybody on the outside of the political world were to look at it, I think they might just look at it and say, you know, a pox on both your houses."
From the June 28 edition of MSNBC Live:
JANSING: Joining me now, the woman who took on Ann Coulter, Elizabeth Edwards. Good morning, Mrs. Edwards.
EDWARDS: Good morning, Chris.
JANSING: Ann Coulter has said so many controversial things about your husband for years, really. Why did you decide to call in? Why now?
EDWARDS: Well, you know, when she said some things back in maybe March about John and a lot of people pulled their -- a lot of newspapers pulled her column from their papers, then we had some silence, and I thought, well, perhaps the economic consequences would make a difference, finally, in this hate speech. And then, apparently, it didn't. She spoke on ABC, I heard about it. And then, when I found out she was going to be on Hardball, on a call-in show, I thought, you know, maybe it's time, finally, for someone simply to do what maybe no one ever asked her to do, which was just to stop and to think about the effect she was having on the political dialogue. Not her alone, mind you --
JANSING: But did you really think she was going to stop?
EDWARDS: Well, I really thought there was a chance, and still hope that there's a chance, that what will happen is that people will be inspired to say, "I agree," and to speak out against it, to have the same kind of impact they had on their newspapers when they wrote in and said, "We're not interested in reading her anymore." If people will call the radio stations, the television stations, the newspapers, and say, "We don't want hate speech," we'll be able to rid ourselves of it. We actually did it in the South, you know, people speaking out against racist language. Decent people taking the time and using -- having the courage to speak out when someone used racist terms made a difference. Racist language is no longer part of the dialogue -- civic dialogue in the South.
JANSING: There are people who support your opinion, I'm sure you know, who say, "Why even dignify it with a response? Why give Ann Coulter more publicity?"
EDWARDS: Well, I completely understand that, but if being quiet about it, if being submissive about it meant that she would eventually stop and go away, that hasn't worked. I actually wrote a letter which I -- the campaign in 2003 said I shouldn't send, and I did not -- I wrote it in November of 2003 about her making fun of the moment of Charlie Dean's death, of our own son's death, of the murder of Senator Kennedy's brothers, and even of the cancer of Dick and Jane Gephardt's son. This is intolerable, it's been going on a long time. Someone needs to say "stop." I hope that I'm not alone in doing it.
JANSING: Well, skeptics, as you know, also have said that this is nothing more than a fundraising ploy, that after all this happened, an email went up on your website, and, in fact, as I understand, you got one of the best responses so far to any email campaign. Was this about fundraising? Was this about provoking an argument to get publicity for your husband's campaign?
EDWARDS: Well, I think that you can check with the NBC bookers that I had nothing to do with booking Ann Coulter before the end of the fundraising quarter. I was simply listening to what was said, and, I mean, everybody gets to the point where they've had enough. Now, we are asking people to get engaged, you know, honestly in our campaign, or in another campaign, or in an effort to speak out against this kind of language. The point we made in the fundraising campaign -- and if it's been successful, which I don't actually know, but if it's been successful, it's been because people are making a choice between -- about what it is they want. Do they want campaigns if substance where we talk about real policies and real ideas, or do they want this kind of name-calling? And if it's been successful, it's been successful because that's what people want.
From the June 28 broadcast of Today:
DAVID GREGORY (NBC chief White House correspondent): But on Tuesday, Elizabeth Edwards called in to MSNBC's Hardball to say enough is enough. For the Edwards campaign, it was a calculated step to speak out against what it calls hate speech. And it seized on the exchange immediately for a fundraising pitch on its website.
YORK: As they say in the business world, there was a revenue component for both sides about this. If anybody on the outside of the political world were to look at it, I think they might just look at it and say, you know, a pox on both your houses.