ĎDonahueí for July 18
PHIL DONAHUE, HOST: Good evening. Sheís a well-known conservative whose book, ďSlander: Liberal Lies About the American RightĒ is on No. 1 position on ďThe New York TimesĒ bestseller list. Looky, here. Well, welcome, Ann Coulter. You couldnít have been meaner to me. Iím not in the book. What am I? A potted plant? And liberals are rich. If a liberal has indoor plumbing, heís a hypocrite. Liberals are sort of classist type people who go around in limousines and are not in touch with the real world. You give me a headache. This book, I mean, on and on. Iíve never been so assaulted in my life.
ANN COULTER, ďSLANDERĒ: Oh, thank you. Youíre not that assaulted. You werenít mentioned.
DONAHUE: That was the biggest thing that hurt. Youíre proud of what you did to Bill and Hill, arenít you? You impeached the guy.
COULTER: Thank you. Youíre one of the few who will give me credit for that.
DONAHUE: Well, youíre right there. You were with-you played Monicaís tape-recorded conversations with Linda Tripp at your house parties, holiday time.
COULTER: No, I didnít, but thatís the last book. Can we talk about this book?
DONAHUE: Wait a minute. Did you or did you not play the Monica tapes in your apartment, or is it a home, at a holiday time?
COULTER: No, that is utterly preposterous. But I love that there are so many rumors about me out there, and that people want to talk about crazy things like this, rather than discuss my book.
DONAHUE: David Brock, in his book ďBlinded By the Right,Ē says you did.
COULTER: Apparently he says a lot of things that arenít true, though I havenít read his book. I hear itís wonderfully edited, though, because itís edited by the same person as this book, which just came out.
DONAHUE: But youíre proud that you spent $70 billion of the peopleís money investigating Bill Clinton?
COULTER: Are we really going to keep talking about the last book?
DONAHUE: I want you to tell me if youíre proud of that. This is the first chance Iíve had to talk to you.
COULTER: Iím disappointed that he was not removed from office. And, as I wrote in my last book-we will get to this book in a moment, right?
COULTER: As I wrote in my last book, at the end of the introduction, the conclusion that if Clinton can get away with what he got away with, it would set a whole new standard for the entire country. And we are seeing that right now in these corporate scandals. I think itís wonderful that these people are being taken away in cuffs and that people are angry about it. But to say that Bill Clinton had nothing to do with that, when half the people on TV saying itís fine to lie, cheat, steal, itís just about sex. Well, apparently a lot of people who run corporations think itís OK to lie if itís just about money. I think it was incredibly corrupting for America. And I think itís astonishing that all liberals and that every Democrat defended that man on the basis of his argument, my opponents are right wing Republicans. And thatís why I wrote this book.
DONAHUE: And to see those righteous brothers, Republicans from the House, marching from the House to the Senate, monogamous, all, that didnít embarrass you? $70 million of the peopleís money to look up a dress. And you brought the government to a halt for a year and a half. Nothing else was done. Because you were out there trying to get Bubba. You couldnít get him at the polls so you were going to knock him off right in the middle of his term. Thatís kind of shameful. Youíve got to be a little bit sorry.
COULTER: In addition to Clintonís extremely persuasive argument to liberals, like you and Democrats, I shouldnít be removed from office because my opponents are right wing Republicans, there was also the very popular argument, letís move on, letís move on. I moved on a long time ago. Iím glad we impeached him. Iím sorry we didnít remove him from office. But I think the country is having a major swing-back now. They see, after America comes under a grievous attack, the great importance of having a man of some morals and virtue in the Oval Office. And I think we can all breathe a sigh of relief that that has happened. Now, I donít think it would have been without Clintonís impeachment.
DONAHUE: Right. We will talk about the book. But you take some heavy incoming from Brockís book, which Iím sure you read.
COULTER: I did not read it. I donít know anyone who read it.
DONAHUE: Let me just tell you. He accuses you, among other things, of being an anti-Semite.
COULTER: Maybe that will help me with the Muslims.
DONAHUE: He says that you left New York because you wanted to get away from all these Jews. Did you say that?
COULTER: I find this very interesting, that I write a book saying liberals wonít argue about things, instead what they do is call conservatives names. And I come on your show and all youíre doing is calling me names.
DONAHUE: No, Iím not calling you. Iím saying that this is...
COULTER: Right, youíre quoting other people who called me names.
DONAHUE: Well, you did say, youíre telling the liberals we call people names. Listen to Ann.
COULTER: This book has been quite discredited. I thought we were going to talk about my book.
DONAHUE: You label Clinton as crazy, like a serial killer, creepier and slimier than Kennedy. A horny hick, you called him, white trash. You called all these names. Your hatred, and those who supported you...
COULTER: Not hatred.,,
DONAHUE: ... for Clinton was pathological.
COULTER: Iím not the president of the United States. I come on your show and all youíre doing is calling me names.
DONAHUE: But you donít...
COULTER: Iím not sending boys into battle to die for the country. Iím not the commander-in-chief. Iím just trying to talk about my book. I come on your show, all do you is call me names.
DONAHUE: Right. Your liberal-you also make the point that liberals somehow donít seem to get it. And all they do is argue with themselves. Thereís a lot...
COULTER: To the contrary, I say itís conservatives who argue with themselves, which is why every interest public policy idea for 20 years has come out of some part of the right wing. Itís amazing how productive debate can be when one isnít constantly being called names and can engage in argument from the right wing. I mean, in the past 20 years, some of the new ideas, some of which are being implemented, have been implemented, or are at least being talked about, flat packs, Star Wars, ending that...
DONAHUE: The liberal catechism includes a hatred of Christians. You believe this?
COULTER: Giulianiís quality of life crimes.
DONAHUE: You donít like my question.
COULTER: No, I was just trying to finish my answer. You mischaracterized my book and Iím just trying to describe my book. All these great new ideas keep coming up because...
DONAHUE: Liberals hate America.
COULTER: I think argument actually does produce something, whereas, for 20 years all we keep hearing from liberals is, my opponent is racist, sexist, anti-Semitic. Thatís not an argument. This a 6-year-old argument.
DONAHUE: I just want to make sure we got this right. Liberals hate America. They hate all religions except Islam. Liberals love Islam, hate all other religions.
COULTER: Post 9/11.
DONAHUE: Well, good for you.
COULTER: In fact, liberals do go crazy at every mention of God, certainly in a public school. Including voluntary prayers at football game. But I note that they have a very heightened interest that the terrorists at Guantanamo be free to practice their religion.
DONAHUE: All right, youíre on the record as denying that you played these tapes for entertainment at your parties before the Paula Jones thing even was...
DONAHUE: Before the president was even deposed on the Paula Jones...
COULTER: Phil Donahue, do you still beat your wife? Because thatís what I say to this charge.
DONAHUE: And weíll be back with Ann Coulter in just a moment.
DONAHUE: The book is at No. 1 on the ďNew York TimesĒ bestseller list. There it is, Ann Coulter. ďSlanderĒ is the title. The ďNational ReviewĒ on-line Web site fired you after you said that we should convert them to Christianity and kill their leaders and invade their countries. You said that.
COULTER: Also false.
DONAHUE: The ďNational ReviewĒ did not drop your column? You called them girly boys.
COULTER: Yes, they dropped my column...
DONAHUE: Thatís the first thing that youíve acknowledged, that you did call them girly boys.
COULTER: I call a lot of people a lot of things.
DONAHUE: So youíre a name caller yourself. You acknowledge that.
COULTER: I donít have any problem with invective. The title of my book is ďSlander,Ē not ďInvective.Ē When I call somebody a name, I assure you, itís true.
COULTER: I happen to know a lot of girly boys. I like a lot of them. Itís simply a fact that they were being girly boys for dropping my column. What was incorrect was your claim, first, that they fired me or, B, that it was because of that line in that column. It was actually the next column that proposed we give an extra little look at swarthy men at airports that upset them and they refused to run.
DONAHUE: You have a call. We have a caller. Dave?
CALLER: Yes, Iím here, Phil.
DONAHUE: Go ahead.
CALLER: Yes, Iíd like to know why Ann thinks the ethics of Harken and Halliburton are preferable to those of Clinton and Gore, who gave us about the best decade weíve had in recent years.
COULTER: The idea that, you know, we had good weather when Clinton was in office. Actually, the economy was pretty bad until the Republican Congress came in and cut the taxes from the tax increase that Clinton had given us. Because, I mean, the Halliburton, Cheney-this is such a classic liberal hoax charge, which I describe in my book in chapter five, which is, you know, you have these complicated, tedious charges that no one could possibly follow. It would have to be like Ross Perot with the charts and the points. And by the time everyone has figured out thereís nothing there, thereís no there, there. Weíve already heard all the-allegations he does not deny.
DONAHUE: So liberals are chasing Enron unfairly. They didnít game electrical energy to California, gouge middle-class, taxpaying citizens who sent their sons and daughters to war, inflated their utility bill so that they could make more money, then bail before the stock. Thatís fine with you. You still want us to go after Whitewater. What a treasure trove was that. How many millions? How many months? How many people?
COULTER: Can I respond?
DONAHUE: Go ahead. Make your point.
COULTER: Actually, youíre the one who wants to keep talking about Clinton. Iím the one who wants to talk about my book.
DONAHUE: Enron is fine.
COULTER: And really, I donít...
DONAHUE: Enron is a good thing?
COULTER: I donít mind Enron as much as I mind you losing the entire viewing audience when Iím trying to sell a book, by going through these tedious charges. As I say, only liberals could slander people through the boredom of their charges. Theyíre just insinuating, saying Bush, Cheney, Enron, Enron.
DONAHUE: Nothing. Nothing at all here.
COULTER: OK, produce something.
DONAHUE: Go away, liberals.
DONAHUE: Produce something? We just had the bottom fall out of all those companies-not only Enron, but the rest of them as well.
COULTER: Right, and you know why? Itís because people are lying and cheating and stealing. And who set the model for that and who defended someone who did that? We did say itís OK to lie. Itís fine to lie. In fact, itís OK to perjure yourself before a federal judge.
DONAHUE: Clinton caused the Enron scandal?
COULTER: No, he caused the scandal which causes all of these scandals, which is corruption...
DONAHUE: Youíre the one who said you didnít want to go there. But, go ahead. Youíll use Clinton as itís convenient. Go ahead. You were saying?
COULTER: Youíre the one who said what caused this? Yes, what caused this is Bill Clinton and a complete decline of morals. Are you saying that what these people did was legal? Because it wasnít. They are going to be arrested. And when there is-and they will to go jail. And they were willing to break the law, as was the president, the most powerful man in the universe. And half the people on TV were saying, thatís fine. Thatís fine because his opponents are bad people. Itís just an excuse.
DONAHUE: Youíve grievously been unfair to some folks in here. You have ďNew York TimesĒ columnist Frank Rich demanding Ashcroft stop monkeying around with Muslim terrorists?
DONAHUE: He said no such thing. Frank Rich is out there saying go get them.
COULTER: Yes, he did. He had a column on it.
DONAHUE: No, he didnít.
COULTER: I cite the column and I invite the viewers to look it up. It is quoted. It is footnoted. He had an entire column denouncing John Ashcroft for not meeting with the representatives.
DONAHUE: Thatís not monkeying around. Thatís not saying he should stop monkeying around.
COULTER: Oh, yes, it-look, he asked if it was one or the other.
DONAHUE: Letís, for the sake of this argument-Rich was saying...
COULTER: No, not for the sake of this argument.
DONAHUE: Rich was saying if anybody knows about terrorism, itís people who operate abortion clinics. And they have names. They know things. And they wanted to talk to Ashcroft so they could help him with this war on terror. Wouldnít see them. Wouldnít even talk to them. That was the point...
COULTER: OK, can I respond now?
COULTER: And, moreover, he quoted the great expertise of these planned parenthood experts. Because the true terrorists are the opponents to slaughtering children in the womb. Thatís what we have to worry about in this country. He quoted them and what their advice would be, donít offer terrorists money. Well, the precise quote, you know, terrorists they were looking for was, caught in response to a reward of money. Thatís a little embarrassing, donít you think? Listen to these people. Well, the advice they were giving, that he quoted in his column, turned out to be 180 degrees wrong. And that was the point of this column. Concentrate on people going after abortion clinics.
DONAHUE: You accuse him of suggesting that Ashcroft and the rest should stop...
COULTER: He was not pursuing the war on terrorism seriously because he would not meet with Planned Parenthood.
DONAHUE: That isnít what you said.
COULTER: Of course it is.
DONAHUE: ďLiberal Lies About the American Right.Ē Read it for yourself. This is something you might want to curl up before the fire, read. And it may make you happy, if youíre on her side of the ledger. Weíll look for your next book and I hope itís as successful as this one. Youíre doing something right, Miss Coulter.
COULTER: Thank you.
DONAHUE: Theyíre buying your books. Next, a woman who was sentenced to 24 years in jail just because she was holding money for her drug-dealing boyfriend. The Rockefeller laws-unfair jailing mothers? Separating them from their children-it has to stop. Back in a moment.
June 26, 2002
Ann Coulter discusses her latest book, "Slander"
Anchor: Katie Couric
Katie: She's been called everything from a "pundit extraordinaire" to a "right-wing tele-bimbo." But one thing Ann Coulter has not been called is understated. In her latest book, "Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right," the controversial author takes on big media, big government, and, most of all, liberals. Miss Coulter, good morning. Nice to see you.
Miss Coulter ("Slander,"): Nice to see you.
Katie: Your--your main thesis, Ann, is that liberals really misrepresent conservatives and the conservative movement, isn't that accurate?
Miss Coulter: Yes, a little bit more than that, and that is that political debate with liberals is basically impossible in America today because liberals are calling names while conservatives are trying to make arguments. And when every one of your arguments is characterized as an attempt to bring back slavery or resegregate lunch counters, it's a little hard to have any sort of productive debate. I mean, I have no problem with invective, obviously, but the name of my book isn't "Invective," it's "Slander," and I think there ought to be a point to the invective.
Katie: What are some of big liberal lies that are out there, in your estimation?
Miss Coulter: I don't rank them, but I'm saying...
Katie: I'm asking you to, either. Just tell me what you think they are.
Miss Coulter: I would say it's really all the same lie, which is conservatives are either stupid or scarcely weird, and therefore, you don't have to deal with their ideas. Just set them aside. This is a crazy person, it's a Nazi, someone who wants to engage in racism, sexism, homophobia. So don't listen to that person's idea. Take a quote out of context and dismiss that idea. The idea that Ronald Reagan was stupid, which I document at great length in my book. I mean, that is a stunning, stunning fact. The man, the bumbling old guy who won the Cold War, the way he was demeaned and attacked as being stupid. Meanwhile, when he was going into his second term, he was--suddenly there was this spate of special interest articles on senility and senility, growing senility and how old Ronald Reagan is, approaching senility. Meanwhile, half the Supreme Court justices were older than he was and I didn't notice any of the liberal media asking that Justice Thurgood Marshall or Justice Brennan or Justice Black--Blackmun resign, though they were deciding life-and-death issues from the Supreme Court.
Katie: I think I do have to bring up a section of the book where you talk specifically about me. And this is not where you call me the "Eva Braun of liberalism," which I'll ask you about...
Miss Coulter: Affable.
Katie: The affable, thanks. That makes me feel so much better. But you talk about the media bias against Ronald Reagan, and you use a quote, an open, from the TODAY show where we say an airhead, Ronald Reagan is an airhead, and we're quoting Edmund Morris, but frankly, in the book, you make is sound as if I was saying that rather than Edmund Morris. And I guess one of your problems is with--even using that, is he said he was an apparent airhead and we failed to say apparent air head. And during the course of the interview with Edmund Morris, I really conducted an extremely challenging interview with him because he did eviscerate Ronald Reagan in his book. It was a very, very unflattering portrayal. The Reagans were very unhappy with it. Conservatives were very unhappy with it. Afterwards, Edmund--Edmund Morris was unhappy with the interview, and Nancy Reagan called to thank me for my line of questioning. So I'm just wondering how that jives with your contention that somehow, I'm a Ronald Reagan basher?
Miss Coulter: Well, I didn't call you a Ronald Reagan basher. I said--which is true, that the TODAY show...
Katie: Well, you used me as an example of liberal bias against Ronald Reagan, and I'm just curious why you took it so out of context.
Miss Coulter: Well, I don't think I did. You're taking it out of context.
Katie: No I'm not.
Miss Coulter: What I said, which is true, is that the TODAY show opened, I believe it was three days in a row, with the announcement Ronald Reagan was an airhead. That's the conclusion of this new book by Edmund Morris. When Edmund Morris came on for that interview with you, he described that as a grossly unfair characterization of his points.
Katie: Well, we should also point out, though...
Miss Coulter: His entire book was contradicting that. So when the author himself and George Bush, the vice president, was interviewed about this, all say that that was a grossly unfair characterization, well, then whose characterization was it? It wasn't Edmund Morris'. He certainly denies it.
Katie: Right, and--and that--well, actually, he backpedaled considerably. If you had read the book by Edmund Morris...
Miss Coulter: I did.
Katie: ...you would have seen that he was extremely critical of Ronald Reagan in the book.
Miss Coulter: No, I didn't like the book, but he didn't call him an airhead. The TODAY show called him an airhead.
Katie: He called him an apparent airhead. But he called him an apparent airhead. I have the quote right here if you'd like me to read it.
Miss Coulter: No, I've read the quote and it's in my book.
Katie: He said that "Young Kim Timmons, she of good life...
Miss Coulter: I don't think we're going to resolve this.
Katie: ...and enchanting brace, played occasional hooky from the White House speech writing department to help me build a chronology. And I was about to hire a full-time assistant, yet the magic of Geneva had faded. Judge remained a mystery to me, and worse still, dare I entertain such heresy in the hushed and reverent precincts of his office, an apparent airhead." So these are Edmund Morris' words. But...
Miss Coulter: But also in his words, though, when he came on your show, was that was a grossly unfair characterization and that that was at the beginning of the book. He said he described him as an apparent airhead on a very first meeting and that--and that the entire course of the rest of his book was contradicting that. So for the TODAY show to be opening three days in a row, Ronald Reagan was an airhead, I'm sorry, that's dishonest.
Katie: It was one day. And also, just for your information it, was one day.
Miss Coulter: No, you said it one day. Matt Lauer said it another day.
Katie: No, it was just one day and we'll get the transcripts for you. But anyway, he also said, Edmund Morris, "beyond amazement, I was distressed by the relentless banality, not to say incoherence of the president's replies and interviews." So he did make these--and he didn't really switch in the book, but we don't want to get too mired this.
Miss Coulter: And yes. By the way, my book is not--not only solely not about this quote, it is not solely about the TODAY show. And it's...
Katie: Well, let's move on, then, and talk about it.
Miss Coulter: ...overwhelming--well, just let me...
Katie: Well, let's just talk about the religious right. Actually, since I'm conducting this interview, one of the things you say is the religious right is misrepresented by the liberal media, that it isn't some organization that has club members and that it's used to sort of freely by liberals in the media. What do you mean by that? Can you elaborate, because I think that's an interesting point.
Miss Coulter: Well, it's--it's more than the religious right is misrepresented. It's the idea that this is this Orwellian, and totemic symbol for people to hate. And when you try to figure out what the religious right is, it ultimately comes down either to one man, Pat Robertson, or anyone who believes in a higher being and wants his taxes cut. As The New York Times apparently describes the religious right. I mean, I've gone through searching through transcripts and--and newspaper articles to figure out exactly what they're talking about. It seems to be anyone who wants his taxes cut and wants to eliminate the National Endowment of the Arts. Well, so you're either talking about, you know, half of America or one man. And--and still, this is used as an example to frighten Americans. It's--it's--the religious right is presumed to be self-evidently fanatical, intolerant, as, for example, the quote that has so captured the imaginations of gossip columnists, mine calling you "the affable Eva Braun of morning TV." You--they can't put everything in context but the context of that was a speech in which you blamed the dragging death of James Byrd on--on the intolerance created by evangelical Christians, which is just an astonishing statement.
Katie: Actually, I didn't, but I'll have to get the exact transcript to quote you.
Miss Coulter: Well, as luck would have it, all these quotes are in my book. That is in the footnote, the full quote.
Katie: OK. We'll--we'll look at that, but I think the--the real problem you had was with the Matthew Shepard interview, and again, I don't want to do a tit-for-tat here because there are a lot of broader issues in your book that I want to talk to you about. One is that you take Walter Cronkite to task for criticizing Jerry Falwell for the remarks he said after September 11th. You write about what Falwell said, saying "Falwell, it seemed, had remarked that gay marriage and abortion on demand may not have warmed the heart of the Almighty." In fact, here is what Falwell actually said, something he later apologized for. He said, "I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America, I point the finger in their face and say you helped make this happen." Do you agree with Jerry Falwell and shouldn't you have focused, perhaps, some of your attention on those remarks rather than on Walter Cronkite's, you know, distaste for what Jerry Falwell said?
Miss Coulter: Not after September 11th. I did find quite astonishing that after September 11th, liberals seemed to be in overdrive watching out for the statements of Christians. I mean, what Jerry Falwell said there, whether you agree with it or not, is really fairly standard Jerry Falwell Christian doctrine. Yes, he's against abortion, he's against homosexuality, as is...
Katie: But to blame them for the events of September 11th, you didn't find that a little disconcerting?
Miss Coulter: No, what--no, what he said was that the Almighty had stopped protecting America because America was no longer asking for God's help. This is straight Christian doctrine and even if it had been some sort of peculiar sect of Christianity as opposed to straight Christian doctrine, I think it's a little bit peculiar that everyone was jumping on the statements of a Christian minister after thousands of Americans were slaughtered by Islamic fundamentalists.
Katie: You were also fired, I guess, because you wrote in the National Review that we should--when it came to fighting terrorism, "we should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity." Do you still believe that that's the best way to combat terrorism worldwide?
Miss Coulter: Well, that's a somewhat dishonest quote. I was referring to the people in the previous sentence of that column, cheering and dancing in the streets right now. And, in fact, this--the way that was so widely misquoted is an example of what I describe in my book, which is the constant mischaracterization, switching a small word, taking out the word, apparent. It makes a big difference and these subtle differences that are then glossed over as if there's absolutely no difference, to try to portray conservatives as crazy people, as--as Nazis, slave owners...
Miss Coulter: ...sexist, homophobic. How about dealing with our ideas? I mean, I've written two books now, I've written hundreds of columns, I've been on TV hundreds of times. The idea that someone can go out and find one quote that will suddenly, you know, portray me, just dismiss her ideas, read no more, read no further, this person is crazy, is precisely what liberals do all the time.
Katie: But obviously--but obviously, the National Review had a problem with these articles and some of the pieces you did because you were fired from that job. Can you elaborate or at least tell us what you exactly meant?
Miss Coulter: Well, that--that also isn't quite true. I mean, I write a syndicated column. I write for Human Events. That's the newspaper that hires me. People buy a syndicated column, they drop the column. But a lot of people don't like me for a lot of different reasons, including...
Katie: Well, why don't you explain what you meant then.
Miss Coulter: ...that they're my competitors.
Katie: What do you think is the best way to--to battle terrorism?
Miss Coulter: Well, point one--point one and point two, by the end of the week, had become official government policy. As for converting them to Christianity, I--I think it might be a good idea to get them on some sort of hobby other than slaughtering infidels. I mean, perhaps that's the Peace Corps, perhaps it's working for Planned Parenthood, but I've never seen the transforming effect of anything like Christianity.
Katie: Well, Ann Coulter, it's always interesting to talk to you, to say the least. The book is called "Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right." Thanks so much for coming by this morning.
Miss Coulter: Thank you.
Katie: You can check out or read an excerpt of "Slander" on our Web site at today.msnbc.com.
We'll be back in a moment. This was TODAY.
To watch the video clip, Couric Vs. Coulter.
And, a bonus link, too - The wit and wisdom of Ann Coulter
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