For the third time in a week, NBC provided a forum for Ann Coulter's hateful rhetoric and continued to milk the controversy that surrounds her. On The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Coulter again discussed her attacks on the widows of 9-11 victims. Media Matters for America asks what other NBC show will try to capitalize on the ratings boost the network clearly thinks Coulter brings.
For the third time in a week, an NBC host or anchor purported to disapprove of right-wing pundit Ann Coulter's invective against the widows of 9-11 victims, while the network continues to milk the controversy it helped create and continues to bolster sales of her new book -- Godless: The Church of Liberalism -- in which her attacks on the widows and many others can be found. This time the host was Jay Leno and the show was the June 14 broadcast of The Tonight Show. But just as Today co-host Matt Lauer and Nightly News anchor Brian Williams shined a spotlight on Coulter and her most inflammatory comments, Leno gave Coulter yet another opportunity to promote herself and her book, even as he characterized her comments in the book as "harsh" and "nasty."
Media Matters for America asks what other NBC show will try to capitalize on the ratings boost the network clearly thinks Coulter brings: Meet the Press? Dateline? Deal or No Deal? Perhaps Fear Factor ...
From the June 14 edition of NBC's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, on which Coulter appeared with comedian George Carlin:
LENO: All righty. My next guest is a best-selling author. Her latest book, Godless: The Church of Liberalism, has debuted at Number 1 on the New York Times bestseller list. Also started a huge controversy, which we'll talk about. Please welcome Ann Coulter.
OK. Thanks for coming. Do you know George? You haven't met him.
COULTER: No, but he was just very funny. I like "the Catholics don't have the nuke."
CARLIN: I never thought when Ann Coulter came out I would have to move to the right.
LENO: Now, news junkies know this story. A lot of people don't. Explain. You're on the Today show. I think this is where this all sort of started. Explain what happened.
COULTER: Well, I wrote a book, and liberals were hysterical. It's getting to be kind of kabuki theater. I write a book, they're hysterical. It happens all the time.
LENO: All right.
COULTER: My perspective on it is -- I understand you had an Ann Coulter joke last night, Jay.
LENO: Oh, I have a bunch of Ann Coulter jokes all the time.
COULTER: That I was worried about Dorothy's house falling on me.
LENO: I think that was the joke, yeah. And then, I had the -- the other joke was I liked you fighting Sigourney Weaver in the Alien. I think that was the other movie I did.
COULTER: Well, see, in my perspective I'm Dorothy --
COULTER: -- and I've just dropped my house on the mainstream media.
LENO: I think probably -- probably the most controversial remark, and this is the quote from the book, I think this is the one that's got everyone upset. Do you want me to read it? Would you rather read it?
COULTER: Oh, you go ahead. I love to hear my words.
LENO: This is talking about the 9-11 widows. Correct?
LENO: It says, "These broads are millionaires lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis. I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much." It seems harsh to me.
COULTER: Yes, well, I was wrong about one thing. This is the infallibility chapter: How liberals send out victims to make their points for them so that we can't respond. And I said, you know, you can't respond to these four women because everyone will get mad at you. But I went on the Today show and criticized them, and there hasn't been a peep about it as far as I can tell.
LENO: Do you have any regrets about it?
COULTER: So apparently, you can attack them.
LENO: See, you know -- this is what fascinates me, because you're a very good writer.
COULTER: Thank you.
LENO: It's so different than the way I work. Maybe because I'm a comic. See, my thing is, it's sort of more flies with honey. You make your point even if you get a couple of digs in, you make your point. Whereas it seems to me, the words you've used have overshadowed the point what you were trying to make, to the point where people are upset about you attacking the widows, they don't understand the point you were trying to make. And I think most people still don't understand the point you were trying to make.
COULTER: Well, I suppose I'm not really trying to attract people. If I wanted to attract people, you know, I'd wear sexy dresses, grow my hair long.
LENO: No, I got you.
COULTER: Oh, wait, no. No, I think that is not true, actually. I mean, other people have written acerbic little remarks about Democrats sending out victims, Cindy Sheehan, Max Cleland, these four women from New Jersey, making the exact same points Howard Dean could be making, but we can attack Howard Dean. But in this case, their husbands died, their son died, we can't respond. And I don't think the nation's attention has ever been riveted on this victim as spokesman as it has in the last week. I don't think that trick's going to work anymore.
LENO: I mean, why use the term -- because I noticed, I saw you on a show the other day. You said "these women." Yet in the book you use the word "these broads." I mean, why --
COULTER: Men use the word broads all the time to talk about women. If we're getting to that level of parsing my language, there will be no end to this.
LENO: See, it's just confusing. Because I say -- is the point -- now I don't say this sarcastically -- is the point of the book to move forth your conservative ideas, what you think, or is it to sell books?
COULTER: Well, it is to make a point, and now that it is the number one book in the country I think that point will be made. I must say. I mean, I had a lot of my friends read the book before it came out, and I gave it to my smartest liberal friends, and I told them you're smarter than any liberal I'm going to be on TV with. I didn't know I was going to be on with you [Carlin]. And I said, I want you to attack this book. You go through it with a fine-toothed comb. And I got to tell you, not my friends, not my editors, not the lawyer, not the liberal pulled out the chapter on the Jersey Girls. I mean, I think if you read that chapter -- I mean, the funny thing about this is I'm calling liberals godless. Oh, they're cool with that. Just don't attack the Jersey Girls.
LENO: Now, you said your liberal friend. Is there only one?
LENO: Have you ever had sex with a liberal?
LENO: You should try it, see what it's like.
COULTER: I read about it in Esquire, and it does not sound good.
LENO: Have your editors or anybody ever suggested that you that change anything, and would you if they did?
COULTER: A few changes here and there. But not much on this one. This one -- this one was the least edited of my books.
LENO: I mean, does --
COULTER: I didn't say.
LENO: The one thing that sort of bothers me about politics, and I enjoy politics, but I really don't enjoy the civility -- you know, I have friends -- I really do have friends on both sides. Because I'm one of those people --
COULTER: You seem like that.
LENO: I'm fiscally conservative, but I'm probably socially liberal. So, I have friends on both sides, and we have very nice discussions. Lately everything is so nasty. And this would qualify as nasty, wouldn't you think?
COULTER: I think it's not nasty.
LENO: No? You don't think so?
COULTER: And the other thing is, I mean, yeah, we hear this all the time about how civil things were back when there were only three TV stations. Well, they were really civil in the Soviet Union that had only one TV station. I mean, this alleged disruption of civility is conservatives being able to talk back now through talk radio, through the Internet, through Fox News.
Through your audience.
LENO: Have you ever been hurt by something someone said?
COULTER: I was wounded when I wrote my "Attack France" column and even liberals didn't mind that one.
LENO: See, you put up a good front. But you know what I'm saying.
COULTER: Um, no.
LENO: You know what I'm saying, seriously. I mean, have you ever went, "Ooh, that person went a little bit too far attacking me," or whatever?
COULTER: No. I'm -- to quote Dan Quayle, one of your other targets -- I wear their contempt as a badge of honor.
LENO: Now, do you travel, like, with a bodyguard now? Do you find --
COULTER: Well, I travel with conservative men. They're -- they're pretty fearsome. Unlike the liberals you showed the last time I was on when I spoke on a college campus. We got the nuanced liberals throwing food, and they missed. Yeah, unlike them, I think my male friends can take 'em.
LENO: All right. The book's title --
COULTER: Godless. Which liberals don't mind.
LENO: Explain what you mean by that. Explain what you mean --
COULTER: I mean, no one's complained. I think if somebody called me godless, I'd take notice of it. No, they're obsessed with this one section of one chapter. But the point of the book is that liberalism has become like a religion. All the bad things associated with religions, which I don't think you see that much from the God-based religions, by the way.
[Turns to Carlin]
Though I think you do.
[Turns back to Leno]
But the self-righteousness, the intolerance, the refusal to countenance differing beliefs. And by denying that it's a religion, I mean, they have their own cosmology, their own world view, their own belief in miracles. They promote themselves through the schools, through the government, the children are baptized in the religion of global warming, of recycling, of safe sex, but you can't even have a moment of silence. I mean, that is preferring one religion over another, and they advance themselves by denying their religion. And this is describing the religion of liberalism.
LENO: Well, the book is called The Church of Liberalism, godlessness. Ann, thank you. Always fascinating to have you here.