Better late than never: NBC acknowledges Coulter attacks on 9-11 families were "over the line"

Video ››› ››› RAPHAEL SCHWEBER-KOREN

Introducing an NBC Nightly News report on right-wing pundit Ann Coulter's appearance on Today, Brian Williams said that controversial comments Coulter made about the widows of victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were "over the line -- the line that is shared by just about everybody because some things, it turns out, are still sacred."

Loading the player reg...

Introducing a June 7 NBC Nightly News report on right-wing pundit Ann Coulter's June 6 appearance on NBC's Today, anchor and managing editor Brian Williams said that controversial comments Coulter made on that show about the widows of victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were "over the line -- the line that is shared by just about everybody because some things, it turns out, are still sacred." Coulter -- who, the Nightly News report stated, "believes everything she says and writes" -- criticized the 9-11 widows on Today for "speak[ing] out using the fact that they're widows" and "using their grief" and "the fact that you lost a husband" to make "a political point while preventing anyone from responding."

Coulter's June 6 appearance on Today was, as Media Matters noted, her third appearance on that show in eight months, despite her documented history of false and inflammatory statements, especially against progressives.

The Nightly News report also quoted former presidential adviser David Gergen, who said that "it's almost as if [Coulter]'s a figure in a circus" because of "the ugliness of the charge that she's making, the ugliness of the words that she's using that are drawing attention to her."

From the June 7 edition of NBC's Nightly News:

WILLIAMS: Tonight, we're going to go off the air with a report on civility in American life. The explosion in our media, our deafening national noise level, and our changing mores have made this a much different era in America than the one our parents grew up in. And just when you think it seems like there are no limits on anything, someone comes along and makes a comment that goes over the line -- the line that is shared by just about everybody because some things, it turns out, are still sacred. The story tonight from NBC's Mike Taibbi.

TAIBBI: Conservative pundit Ann Coulter was front-page news today for what she's written about some 9-11 widows, that "[t]hese broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities." And for what she said about them to the Today show's Matt Lauer.

[begin video clip]

LAUER: If you lose a husband, you no longer have the right to have a political point of view?

COULTER: No, but don't use the fact that you lost a husband as the basis for your being able to talk about it.

[end video clip]

TAIBBI: Coulter was on the Today show to push her latest anti-liberal book --

[begin video clip]

COULTER: There's an important book that comes out today, Matt.

LAUER: What's the name?

[end video clip]

TAIBBI: -- already an Amazon.com best seller. But the interview kept returning to Coulter's attacks on the 9-11 widows. She called them "harpies" and wondered whether their husbands had been planning to divorce them.

From a statement from four of the widows: "[t]here was no joy in watching men that we loved burn alive," "no happiness in telling our children that their fathers were never coming home again. We adored these men and miss them every day."

Coulter says she believes everything she says and writes. But had she gone too far? Former White House adviser David Gergen:

GERGEN: It's the ugliness of the charge that she's making, the ugliness of the words that she's using that are drawing attention to her. But it's almost as if she's a figure in a circus. And you're saying, "Oh, my God. Can you believe that?"

TAIBBI: Still, the tempest was a trigger for a Red-Blue debate today on MSNBC, with criticism for Coulter from both sides. A conservative radio voice --

DOM GIORDANO (radio talk-show host) [video clip]: I think it was shameful what she said, [MSNBC host] Chris [Jansing], but I do think that these widows have attacked President Bush.

TAIBBI: -- and a liberal counter voice.

SAM GREENFIELD (radio talk-show host) [video clip]: I think she's a sad, pathetic, unhappy person.

TAIBBI: All the fallout from a television exchange --

[begin video clip]

COULTER: Look, you're getting testy with me.

LAUER: No, I'm just -- I think it's a -- I think it's a --

COULTER: Oh!

[end video clip]

TAIBBI: -- likely to be remembered well beyond the impact of some ill-tempered sentences in print. Mike Taibbi, NBC News, New York.

Network/Outlet
NBC
Person
Ann Coulter
Show/Publication
NBC Nightly News
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.