Friday, August 03, 2007

Why Ann Coulter Left MSNBC

FAIR's Steve Rendell Writes:

During an interview with FAIR's radio show CounterSpin (8/9/02), Coulter challenged a story about her reported by Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz:

"Howard Kurtz made up a quote about a Vietnam vet, which he knows he made up, which has now run twice in the Washington Post, once in Talk magazine, once in People magazine, once in the Washingtonian. It's something I allegedly said on TV. Why doesn't somebody produce a tape of that?"

Coulter was referring to Kurtz's account of a 1997 debate on MSNBC's NewsChat show (10/11/97), when Coulter was a paid MSNBC contributor. According to Kurtz (Washington Post, 10/16/98), "Coulter was debating a disabled Vietnam vet when she snapped: 'People like you caused us to lose that war.' (She says she didn't know the guest, appearing by satellite, was disabled.) That ended her MSNBC career."

That Post report, Coulter told CounterSpin, was "absolute lies.... It's absolutely out of character for me."

Extra! asked Kurtz about the charge that he'd fabricated the quote for his report. In an email, Kurtz responded: "The account of Ann Coulter's remarks to the veteran on MSNBC was provided to me by Coulter herself, who told me she liked the piece and never complained about the passage until she was trying to sell books."

Kurtz also told Extra! that MSNBC had confirmed that Coulter was let go after making such a comment to a disabled Vietnam veteran.

In the MSNBC NewsChat segment, in which Coulter debated Bobby Muller, president of the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, her exact words to the paralyzed veteran were: "No wonder you guys lost." She was interrupting Muller's point about the role that landmines played in the Vietnam War: "In 90 percent of cases that U.S. soldiers got blown up--Ann, are you listening?--they were our own mines."

Muller responded to Coulter's remark with an incredulous "Say that again," while moderator Felicia Taylor sharply rebuked the in-house pundit: "OK, we're not going to get into that conversation. Ann, that was unnecessary! Mr. Muller, please continue...."

Coulter could say that Kurtz did not quote her exact words--though considering that she was the apparent source of his report, that would take some chutzpah. "People like you caused us to lose that war" is a fairly accurate paraphrase of "no wonder you guys lost," so there's no sense in which Kurtz's article is an "absolute lie" that depicts her saying something "absolutely out of character for me."