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August 21, 2002

And the horse you rode in on And on the other hand, here’s Ann Coulter being interviewed by George Gurley in the New York Observer.
“Is your tape recorder running? Turn it on! I got something to say.”

Then she said: “My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building.”

Media Whores Online had this to say [pointed out by Atrios]:
We wonder again why Slate.com’s Mickey Kaus would concern himself with MWO’s rhetoric, when someone he has recommended, and whose site he has permanently linked on his weblog at Slate.com, has expressed disappointment that his fellow journalists working for the New York Times have not been murdered in a terrorist attack.
You know, I said some pretty rough things about Media Whores Online just the other day—but on this, they’re dead right. Kaus tries to play both sides of the street, subjecting MWO and other left-leaners to a forbidding standard of rhetorical punctiliousness, while at the same time displaying an indulgent tolerance of thuggishness on his right. This fails a basic test of entertainment journalism, not because it’s hypocritical (hypocrisy, handled right, can be very entertaining), but because it’s unconvincing.

Obviously, linkers don’t inherit responsibility for everything said by the linkee. I link to a bunch of weblogs; many of them contain statements I think are dumb. (For that matter, this weblog frequently contains statements I’ve later come to think were dumb. Obligatory Kaus imitation: Not that there’s anything wrong with that!) But you know, if this weblog featured a permanent flattering recommendation for someone who repeatedly talked about how much they’d like to kill Glenn Reynolds, or arrest all the libertarians, or convert conservatives at gunpoint, I think some folks in the blog world would get just a little bit creeped out. Particularly if I did so while getting all self-righteous every time a right-of-center blogger tossed out a stupid insult or made a foolish remark.

By all the personal accounts I’ve heard, Kaus is a splendid human being. Then again, some of the people who work at the New York Times building are surely also splendid human beings. My mother and father, pretty much liberals the last time I looked, are splendid human beings too. Ann Coulter says she wishes the folks in the Times building had been killed. She said “We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed too.” You know, that’s my mother and father she’s talking about. For some reason, I don’t find this kind of thing entertainingly outrageous. Publicly winking at it doesn’t make you look smart, or broadminded, or brilliantly devil-may-care. It just makes you look cruel and stupid. [06:27 PM]

Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on And the horse you rode in on:

Oliver ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2002, 07:25 PM:

Ann Coulter: Behind the curve since... well... like, forever actually.

Robin Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2002, 08:56 PM:

Wasn't it Michael Moore who wrote something about the Sept 11 attacks being aimed or should have been aimed at Bush voters?

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2002, 09:07 PM:

Not quite. He said "If someone did this to get back at Bush, then they did so by killing thousands of people who DID NOT VOTE for him!" This isn't quite the same as saying that he actually would have wanted the terrorists to have targeted Bush voters, though it is pretty dopey. (Putting "These people did not deserve to die" immediately before it, implying that maybe Bush voters would have so deserved, is even dopier, but I suspect that was just sloppy paragraph construction.)

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2002, 09:15 PM:

Moore's stupid comments were pretty roundly excoriated in the "blogosphere." Including by quite a few liberal bloggers. Electrolite's comments on Michael Moore can be found here and here.

Robin Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2002, 09:17 PM:

And condemnation of Moore outside the blogosphere?

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2002, 09:27 PM:

I'm not sure, but Google is free for everyone's use. What I recall is that, although his early film and TV work were widely praised, he's come in for a lot more criticism lately. Certainly he got a bunch of bad press during his last book tour, as his personal arrogance was much on display. Some of those media reports were the basis of various blog posts. You seem to be following a line of questioning. What are you suggesting?

My own sense is that, although Michael Moore is something of a jerk, he hasn't actually called for anyone's murder. But we can play rhetorical chess about the stupid statements of people from all sides, without really establishing anything interesting. The basic point of my post wasn't that right-wing loudmouth dingbats are somehow more full of evil badness than left-wing loudmouth dingbats. The basic point was that calling for people to be killed isn't "left-wing" or "right-wing." It's merely depraved.

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2002, 10:23 PM:

I think one of Moore's problems is that he isn't a good writer. Have you noticed that the really stupid, offensive things he says are almost always in his books, columns, and open letters? Nobody complains quite as bitterly about his TV and movie work because those are funny.

Moore is something like a cartoonist, but one who works in film and video. He's capable of coming up with funny images and situations that illustrate his points, but when he tries to state them nakedly in print, it doesn't work, because that's not his medium.

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2002, 12:38 AM:

Interesting how everyone's suddenly discussing Moore in a comment section for an entry that talks about Ann Coulter and Mickey Kaus. Rhetoric of that sort is to be roundly condemned wherever found, but quit changing the subject by attacking someone else.

MKK

Steve ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2002, 12:44 AM:

And condemnation of Moore outside the blogosphere?

Well, long before he reached new heights of damnfoolishness, Moore got jumped TV Nation-style (quite entertainingly) for being a hypocrite in Might. The Nation asked if his Stupid White Men made Moore a "direct literary descendant" of "over-the-top idea man" Adolph Hitler. And The New Republic beat Moore silly specifically for that comment.

Does Michael Moore still get to appear on MSNBC?

Joanne Jacobs ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2002, 01:16 AM:

I was never much of an Ann Coulter fan, but this really shocks me. And not in a fun way. She should know better. Anyone should know better. She is, like Michael Moore, a loudmouth idiot. Mickey Kaus doesn't link to all that many people. He should boot Coulter.

Quiddity Quack ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2002, 06:08 AM:

Excellent commentary on Coulter's remarks, and the indulgent attitude by Kaus. I wonder if this latest episode will mark the tipping point in terms of how major media treats Coulter. I think it might be, but one never knows. Even though there was a dust-up between her and the National Review, they gave her book a favorable review not too long ago.

I guess the standards have really dropped.

John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2002, 09:25 AM:

I think (hope) it's just a matter of time before Coulter flames out. In case anyone's interested, I'm linking to Jonah Goldberg's column here about how she ended up, er, "leaving" National Review last October.

My point is, if this is the way she treats her "friends," we shouldn't be surprised (although we should be appalled) at the hideous things she says.

John Curtin ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2002, 09:49 AM:

I like in the Observer column how she says that critics only managed to find one or two minor errors. Has she read the Spinsanity article on her completely flawed reasearch? She misrepresented Jim Jefford's voting record, repeated the now-debunked myth about the Gore/Love Story "controversy," and used faulty Lexis/Nexis searches to "prove" her point about "liberal" media bias. I'd say that's a little more than minor. She's a purebred from New Caanan with delusions of blue-collar cred and a big vocabulary. And THIS is what passes for serious political commentary.

Christopher Hatton ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2002, 11:30 AM:

Gosh, I think she's an Enemy Combatant, don't you? :-)

Seriously, that comment really comes awfully close to "making terroristic threats" or something...let's hope she completely takes the brakes off and says something she can actually be arrested for.

A long prison term (preferably in the nastiest possible prison) might improve her outlook. Or at least keep us from having to SEE (or hear) her outlook...

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2002, 11:42 AM:

"Let's hope she completely takes the brakes off and says something she can actually be arrested for."

I have a better idea: Let's not hope for that.

I mean, if you're going to hope, why not hope she comes to her senses? Hope is free.

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2002, 11:54 AM:

I like in the Observer column how she says that critics only managed to find one or two minor errors.

Well, sure. She lies about everything else, why wouldn't she lie about her own dishonesty?

Christopher Hatton ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2002, 11:56 AM:

Hmm, maybe you're right. I'm just a nasty vengeful guy, I guess. While I'm not a big fan of the Times, I guess I do sort of want bad things to happen to someone who wants everyone who works in the building to die.

Actually, even if it was the New York Post, right-wing propaganda rag that it's become, I'd feel the same. (And btw even if she just wanted the people who actually work for the Times to die, same thing.)

I guess I'm kinda sensitive on buildings full of people getting blown up by terrorists. If I said that it's too bad that [private label for AC omitted to avoid offense] wasn't having breakfast at Windows On The World on 9/11, I'd be roundly castigated by everyone in sight, even those who FEEL the same way. It's OK to FEEL that way; it's just not OK to say so publicly.

Also, hope (as opposed to wishing) for me requires some tiny bit of realistic expectation; the thing hoped for has to be possible. I can't imagine her coming to her senses, or admitting it if she did. Else I would hope she'd become a nun, and go work among the lepers in Calcutta.

Steve ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2002, 11:58 AM:

Seriously, that comment really comes awfully close to "making terroristic threats" or something...let's hope she completely takes the brakes off and says something she can actually be arrested for.

Oh, come now. One can want people to stop taking her seriously as a political commentator or media critic, want her career to come to a crashing, ignominious halt, or even want her just to shut up and go away without wanting her locked up for saying perfectly harmless (if loopy, offensive, and often factually incorrecty) things. As an American (even if I'm not a real American, since I like New York and don't like the Kansas City Royals), I support Coulter's right to be loopy and offensive and wish ill on whomever she wants.

Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2002, 12:16 PM:

I'm wondering if everyone is reading the whole sentence. Let's parse it out.

"My only regret with Timothy McVeigh...

Note, here, she states clearly that she has only one problem with McVeigh's actions. Everything else, other than the one exception she's about to state, is okay.

...is he did not go to the New York Times Building."

So, in the Coulter-universe, driving truck bombs into building full of people you don't like to slaughter them is *perfectly acceptable and correct* behavoir, and the only mistake McVeigh made was he slaughtered Oklahoma City government workers, rather than New York City journalists.

I'm eager to know who can defend this statement.

Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2002, 12:41 PM:

This behavior isn't new. I remember when back in the 1980s at Cornell, the "conservative" student newspaper, _The Cornell Review_, made death threats against the head of the Gay and Lesbian student organization.

And the editor of said newspaper was ...

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2002, 01:19 PM:

Quite possibly the nastiest thing I have ever hoped for was for a certain person to, overnight, become a genuinely good, thoughtful, caring human being. Wth full knowledge of all the pain, heartbreak and anguish for which she was responsible. I'm afraid I wish something similar for Coulter.

MKK

Christopher Hatton ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2002, 01:38 PM:

Steve, I never said I wanted her "locked up for saying perfectly harmless (if loopy, offensive, and often factually incorrect) things." I do HATE her for saying those things (and by the way, I'm not convinced they're "perfectly harmless").

I, too, support her perfect right to be as offensive as she wants. So far, she hasn't crossed the line into speech that actually IS prohibited (such as making terroristic threats).

I was just HOPING she WOULD cross that line, because I hate her. Patrick correctly pointed out that it would be better to hope that she becomes less worthy of my hatred.

Mary Kay, you're perfectly right. An even better thing to hope for. ("Wishing" for it crosses a line I'm not willing to cross...Wiccan here, that's all.)

Derek James ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2002, 01:47 PM:

Mary Kay...who says bringing up an example of stupid rhetoric from the other end of the political spectrum is necessarily an attack? Maybe it was a diversionary technique, but it might also have been an attempt to demonstrate the ubiquity of mean-spirited stupidity from the two main political camps

I watched Coulter's interview on C-Span last week and I also saw Michael Moore in Dallas on his book tour. The idiotic aspect they had in common was the claim by each that they were some sort of First Amendment crusader, that their newest books were consistently trying to be crushed by The Man.

They both spoke as if they were fighting censorship by "telling the story that others were afraid to tell". Last time I checked, if a publisher doesn't want to publish your book, it's not censorship. Either of these people have the resources to self-publish if they really want to get their book published. Moore could just post it on his website, foregoing associations with the big corporate enterprises he puports to despise (I saw him speaking in a Border's).

When a publisher doesn't want to publish your book, it's not censorship, and the comparison by both that it is is just ridiculous.

Erik Olson ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2002, 02:02 PM:

Well, he wonders, does unclosed I tags carry on?

Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2002, 02:02 PM:

Public service. Have a nice day.

Christopher Hatton ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2002, 02:29 PM:

Thanks Erik. That was my fault; I typoed the i tag close. Sorry everyone.

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2002, 04:33 PM:

I mean, if you're going to hope, why not hope she comes to her senses?

That leaves the realm of hoping for the land of wishing, I think.

Simon Shoedecker ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2002, 05:58 PM:

Derek James wrote,

Last time I checked, if a publisher doesn't want to publish your book, it's not censorship.

But there's something going on if all the commercial publishers refuse to publish your book for reasons other than its quality, especially if there's a known audience. Now that, with the Web, the barriers to self-publishing have been lowered so greatly, this is less of a concern than it used to be. But there's a real phenomenon here, even if it's muddied up by people who bleat "censorship!" after a single rejection, or who (like Coulter or Limbaugh) claim there's a conspiracy to silence their widely-distributed ravings.

Mary Kay wrote,

Quite possibly the nastiest thing I have ever hoped for was for a certain person to, overnight, become a genuinely good, thoughtful, caring human being. Wth full knowledge of all the pain, heartbreak and anguish for which she was responsible.

If you don't do so already, you ought to watch the TV show about Angel, the Angst-filled Vampire.

Christopher Hatton ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2002, 06:25 PM:

If you don't do so already, you ought to watch the TV show about Angel, the Angst-filled Vampire.
Or read Vampires: The Masquerade (and attendant materials). Ann Coulter should be Embraced by the Nosferatu clan, I should think.

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2002, 08:20 PM:

Christopher and Simon: I do watch Angel but I formulated that hope long before Joss Whedon put Buffy and Angel on tv. Never made that connection though, thanks.

MKK

Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2002, 09:31 PM:

Well, this should make Ann happy:

N.Y. Times editor dies in fall
http://www.salon.com/people/wire/2002/08/22/editor/index.html

Dear lord, what an iniquitous woman. The word "rabid" springs to mind.

Andrea Harris ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2002, 01:33 AM:

I don't think she's a ravenous monster, just thoughtless and stupid, and addicted to the shocked looks on peoples' faces when she comes out with her little quips. I will admit, though, that when I read that line about her grabbing a cab, I actually envisioned her grabbing a cab with her bare hands. And then swinging it around above her head, all the while roaring and stamping, kind of like Godzilla. Coulterzilla!

Kevin J. Maroney ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2002, 02:18 AM:

It takes more than mere thoughtlessness to make as many "errors" as Coulter makes in Slander. It takes determination.

Derek James ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2002, 10:56 AM:

Simon S. wrote: "But there's something going on if all the commercial publishers refuse to publish your book for reasons other than its quality, especially if there's a known audience."

Yeah, it's called a business decision. Publishing houses, correct me if I'm wrong, are primarily motivated by money. In Moore's case, it seems reasonable for publishers to possibly think that the post-9/11 environment wouldn't be conducive to scathing criticism, especially with a president who has a huge approval rating. Turns out, they were wrong. The book didn't flop. But it was primarily about money, I think, and not any nefarious plan to silence Moore's messianic voice.

Simon Shoedecker ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2002, 12:14 PM:

Derek James,

What "business decision" would cause not just one but all publishers to reject a book that they know will sell? (I specified that in the situation.) Publishers defend all sorts of crap on the grounds that it sells; it looks odd if they start citing vague and undefined "business decisions" as reasons not to publish other stuff that would sell if they published it.

I don't doubt that sometimes such reasons are legitimate: otherwise they wouldn't work so well as a smokescreen when it's used as one. And there have been situations where it has.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2002, 01:29 PM:

Publishing houses, correct me if I'm wrong, are primarily motivated by money.

Okay, you're wrong.

Seriously. If you're "primarily motivated by money," you're in banking or insurance, not an esoteric business that scrapes by on miniscule margins.

Publishing houses that survive and flourish pay a lot of attention to the bottom line, I hardly need emphasize. But I think it's safe to say that most publishing executives are at least as motivated by other kinds of ambition, ego, desire to make a difference, as they are by interest in mere money. Yes, it's a real charge to play the publishing game and make a bunch of money--but that's just a piece of what interests and motivates publishers.

But there's something going on if all the commercial publishers refuse to publish your book for reasons other than its quality, especially if there's a known audience."

I've lost track. Are we talking about something that actually happened?

Derek James ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2002, 02:25 PM:

Simon S. wrote: "What 'business decision' would cause not just one but all publishers to reject a book that they know will sell? (I specified that in the situation.)"

My point was that it wasn't necessarily unreasonable for *most* publishers to assume that Moore's book would do poorly post-9/11, given the rise in patriotism and the fact that the book is highly critical of Bush. My point is that they didn't expect it would sell well. Again, they were wrong.

Most publishers probably expected it not to sell well. And my impression is that this is the largest mitigating factor when a publisher is deciding whether or not to publish a book, how well they think it will sell.

Maybe I should have stated it this way to begin with. I recognize that publishers have motivations other than money, but my impression is that the biggest factor in deciding go/no-go on a book is the projected sales it will generate.

Patrick said: "I've lost track. Are we talking about something that actually happened?"

Perhaps mostly in Moore's mind. At the bookstore appearance here in Dallas, Moore recounted his woeful tale of "censorship". Here's Salon's softball take on what happened:

http://www.salon.com/books/feature/2002/01/07/moore/?x

So HarperCollins wanted Moore to change parts of the book. He didn't want to. But how is this censorship? Go to another publisher, Mike. Or like I said, publish it for free on your site, if you revile those who forego greed for values. Simon, as far as I know he didn't even *try* any other publishers. But whaddyaknow...librarians saved his books from the pulper. The day is saved, and Moore is a free speech crusader. Give me a break.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2002, 03:14 PM:

It wasn't necessarily unreasonable for *most* publishers to assume that Moore's book would do poorly post-9/11, given the rise in patriotism and the fact that the book is highly critical of Bush.

I'm afraid this makes no sense to me, possibly because the orders of magnitude are so different.

If the logic of book publishing worked this way--catering only to the broadest mainstream opinion--publishing would look very different than it does.

There are 275 million Americans, but only takes a hundred thousand of them buying a non-fiction hardcover to make it a "bestseller." That's one person in nearly three thousand. If you can identify and sell to a narrow but fervent range of opinion, you can do quite well. Just this year, our sister company, St. Martin's Press, had bestsellers with a new title by Pat Buchanan--and another by Ralph Nader. Michael Moore certainly represents a narrow-but-fervent slice of opinion, and moreover, is an accomplished self-promoter, something publishers tend to like. Therefore, while I really don't buy Moore's tales of how he was censored by the Man (yeah, censored all the way to a #1 slot on the Times list, we should all be so censored), I also don't buy the notion that the relative unpopularity of his views, after 9/11 or before, has anything to do with his commercial potential to a publisher.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2002, 03:21 PM:

Following up the above, I should say that if anyone at HarperCollins really did try to get Moore to "tone down" parts of Stupid White Men, I would suggest they need to rethink their own assumptions about what makes a book "commercial" or not.

I personally doubt the story is entirely correct, simply because I don't trust Moore, but if there's any truth to it, it wouldn't be the first time an arm of the Murdoch empire suffered a PR fiasco by trying to enact their leader's conservative views a little too heavy-handedly. These things have a way of backfiring.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2002, 04:03 PM:

I've been on record since early last October as thinking that Ann Coulter's a nasty piece of baggage. (Coincidentally, I recently repeated several points from that piece elsewhere, though not the bits about Ann Coulter.)

In this way, her writing is like the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion: That people believe it, and agree with it, only because they want to. It is never the case that they find themselves reluctantly forced to agree with it, in the face of all their most cherished beliefs, by the sheer intellectual force of its arguments.

On to publishing:

First, the only book you can be sure will sell is one for which you have non-refundable prepaid orders equal to your print run.

Second: Maybe Moore's account of things is accurate in every particular, but I wouldn't believe it unreservedly unless I'd read the documents in the case. I've seen too many occasions when an author has taken what I'll charitably call an unaccountably strange view of events.

Was HarperCollins being oppressive and/or wussy? Could be. The fact that they later relented and published the book unchanged suggests that the objections weren't coming from Legal. Of course, it's also possible that Legal started out in a fluster and a fluther over those passages, then later calmed down and gave it the green light.

If we accept Moore's descriptions of HarperCollins' editorial direction, they wanted him to alter some remarks about Mr. Bush that weren't doing any great harm to the book's overall logic and consistency, and which moreover would be neither confusing nor offensive to the book's natural audience. By me, that would be a strong argument for letting the remarks stand. But as I say, I haven't seen the manuscript or the editorial correspondence, so I don't know.

Third: As a general principle, in publishing you can only handle so much aggravation at once. You can't entirely avoid it, because there are times when the most innocuous book written by the most reasonable of authors will suddenly mutate into a hideously exhausting brain-sucking semi-disastrous time-sink. When that happens, you deal with it because you have to. You make a commitment when you buy a book. But you have to feel a strong sense of commitment going into the deal to buy a book when you know in advance that a lot of aggravation is going to come with it.

James Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2002, 08:08 PM:

She said "We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed too."

Wait a minute. John Walker, the spy, was perhaps a liberal, perhaps not. He always struck me as being an apolitical money-grubber. John Walker Lindh, the Talib, was a right-winger. The Taliban are nothing if not conservative.

How would executing an ultra-conservative physically intimidate liberals?

Kip ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2002, 08:19 AM:

In one of the lesser Marlowe movies (the least, by my reckoning), a gangster has his girlfriend beat up to scare the detective. If he'd do that to someone he loves, just think what he'd do to somebody he hates.

It worked better as a throwaway line in print after two cops got into a fight in front of Marlowe, and one of them quips that it's a new interrogation method where they beat the hell out of each other, and the suspect gets so scared he'll confess to anything.

Kevin J. Maroney ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2002, 04:14 PM:

The Jesuit strongarm: "See that guy strung up on the cross there? We worship him. We don't even like you."

Mark Bourne ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2002, 05:36 PM:

From Joe Conanson's Journal at Salon.com (http://www.salon.com/politics/conason/2002/09/04/bush/index.html):

------------------------

Dumped by Middle America

A mainstream media executive has finally summoned the taste and decency to tell Ann Coulter to beat it. Not anybody at CNN or MSNBC or any of those other powerful portals of the "liberal" media, which promote her bilious maunderings almost every day. No, just a newspaper editor in central Pennsylvania, where old standards still prevail.

------------------------

It includes a link to the newspaper editor's published pink-slip editorial. I wrote a "well said, well done" email to the editor involved and received a robo-reply stating (without surprise) that no reply is possible due to the "thousands of email messages concerning his column about columnist Ann Coulter."