Coulter compounds falsehoods in "point-by-point" response to Media Matters' fact-check of Guilty

››› ››› NATHAN TABAK & HANNAH DREIER

In a Newsmax.com article, purporting to respond to Media Matters' recent analysis documenting falsehoods in her new book, Ann Coulter advanced new ones.

In a January 7 article on the conservative website Newsmax.com, purporting to provide a "point-by-point" response to Media Matters for America's recent analysis documenting numerous falsehoods in her new book, Ann Coulter simply compounded the falsehoods.

Coulter's new source still doesn't support her claim that liberals "immediately praised" hoaxers for staging hate crimes

Media Matters noted that Coulter's claim in Guilty: Liberal "Victims" and Their Assault on America that two black Duke University students who engaged in a hoax by hanging a black doll from a noose were "immediately praised" by "liberals" was not supported by the sources she cited. In her Newsmax response, Coulter defended herself by falsely suggesting that Media Matters had actually faulted her for not citing any sources for her claim. In the Newsmax piece, Coulter wrote:

"Just because something is not footnoted does not make it false. I am one of the few writers who includes footnotes as service to my readers. "But as long as you ask, among the praise for the perpetrators of the hoax hate crime was a statement by the president of Duke in a baccalaureate address reprinted in the Duke magazine. (Available at: http://www.dukemagazine.duke.edu/dukemag/issues/ 070801/depgar.html) President Nannerl Keohane cited the hoax as a 'protest,' listing it with other admirable protest activities pursued by Duke students that year. She went on to note that in response to the protests, '"[p]rogress has been made.'"

In Guilty, Coulter asserted: "Two black students later admitted they were the culprits and were immediately praised for bringing attention to the problem of racism on campus." This was followed by a footnote citing a Chronicle of Higher Education article and a Weekly Standard article. But neither source supported Coulter's claim that the students were "immediately praised" by "liberals." The Chronicle article did not report that the students were "praised," but rather that "[s]ome classmates defended the two students," while the Weekly Standard article cited the Chronicle article in writing that "some at Duke defended the act, claiming it high-lighted the problem of race relations on campus." Further, the "statement by the president of Duke" that Coulter cited in her rebuttal also does not support her assertion about the hoaxers. In fact, Keohane cited the event as an example of how "[r]ace has indeed been relevant" during the graduating students' time at Duke:

At your opening convocation in August 1997, I spoke on the theme of freedom -- the kind of freedom you might expect at Duke, and my advice on how to use it wisely. I also told you about some of the things you would need to grapple with, freely and responsibly, during your Duke years. One of those predictions was that race would surely matter in your lives. During your first semester, students hung a black doll in effigy on the quad to protest what they saw as our inhospitable environment for African Americans. The Black Student Alliance held an Allen Building "study-in," and Race Day in front of the Chapel drew some five hundred people. Now, in your senior year, several hundred students marched silently through the quad to present a petition demanding still more concrete action to address issues of tolerance, openness, and diversity. Race has indeed been relevant. Progress has been made; but there is still work to be done -- at Duke and in the world outside -- work that you can now begin to tackle with the strength of your degree.

Additionally, Keohane's speech did not come "immediately" after the November 1997 hoax -- it was the baccalaureate address for the Class of 2001. Indeed, during the speech, Keohane noted that the event occurred during the audience's "first semester."

Coulter falsely claimed Swift Boat Veterans did not alter their website's account

Media Matters noted that contrary to Coulter's claim in Guilty that "the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth weren't forced to retract any part of their story," the group altered its website's account of the December 2, 1968, mission for which the U.S. Navy awarded Kerry his first Purple Heart three days after Media Matters noted that the account was inconsistent with that of retired Rear Admiral William L. Schachte Jr., the group's star witness. Coulter responded in the Newsmax piece:

The Swifties did not alter their website's account of the December 2, 1968, mission. They always said Admiral Schachte was on the skimmer with Kerry. Schachte has so sworn in an affidavit. The correction of the website entry was to fix a mistaken description of Schachte as an enlisted man, rather than the lieutenant that he was. That is not a 'retraction.'

In fact, the "correction" did not merely "fix a mistaken description" of Schachte's rank. The revision claims that the skimmer was "under the command of Lt. William Schachte" and that he and Kerry "were accompanied by an enlisted man who operated the outboard motor." The original, however, referred to Kerry as "commanding a small, foam-filled 'skimmer' craft with two enlisted men" and made no mention of Schachte's presence on board the skimmer. The original description matches Kerry's own account, as well as the account of Patrick Runyon and William Zaladonis, two enlisted men who insist that: (1) Schachte was not on the skimmer; (2) that Kerry was in command; and (3) that Runyon and Zaladonis were the only other people besides Kerry on the small craft.

Coulter responded to debunking of her criticism of Kerry's "home-movie camera" by calling Media Matters "nuts"

Media Matters noted that Coulter's assertion in Guilty that Kerry "carrie[d] a home-movie camera to war in order to reenact combat scenes and tape fake interviews with himself" was a discredited charge previously made by Internet gossip Matt Drudge during the 2004 presidential election. Media Matters further noted that The New York Times subsequently reported on the allegation without noting that executive editor and then-columnist Bill Keller had debunked it in a column two years earlier. In her response, Coulter wrote only, "Now Media Matters is accusing me of lying for believing what is printed in the New York Times. Can I please stop responding to these nuts now?" However, Media Matters faulted Coulter for repeating a long-since discredited allegation that has appeared in a number of news outlets, The New York Times among them. Further, as Media Matters noted in its analysis of Guilty's falsehoods, Keller debunked the re-enactment charge in a 2002 column. After viewing 40 minutes of footage Kerry shot in Vietnam, Keller wrote:

The first thing to be said is that the senator's movies are not self-aggrandizing. Mr. Kerry is hardly in the film, and never strikes so much as a heroic pose. These are the souvenirs of a 25-year-old guy sent to an exotic place on an otherworldly mission, who bought an 8-millimeter camera in the PX and shot a few hours of travelogue, most of it pretty boring if you didn't live through it.

Keller also wrote that, according to the Swift Boat Sailors Association, "a group of veterans who manned" the kind of riverboat that Kerry commanded, "lots of enlisted men did the same."

Network/Outlet
NewsMax.com, Random House
Person
Ann Coulter
Stories/Interests
Propaganda/Noise Machine
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