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Morning Shows Invite Edwards to Continue Raging Against Coulter --6/29/2007


1. Morning Shows Invite Edwards to Continue Raging Against Coulter
All three broadcast network morning shows on Thursday featured Elizabeth Edwards, wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, to let her continue her campaign against conservative columnist and author Ann Coulter, and all three programs seemed to agree with Edwards' indictment of Coulter's conservative rhetoric. On NBC, David Gregory complained that "this whole episode, I think, is a reminder to a lot of people about why they don't like politics." Over on ABC, fill-in host Chris Cuomo suggested Edwards had lowered herself by even talking with Coulter: "You decided to get involved with someone who is a professional provocateur....Why decide to call in and go toe-to-toe with someone like Ann Coulter?"

2. ABC Links Edwards Call to Fundraising; Nightly News Twists Quote
On Wednesday evening, ABC's World News with Charles Gibson and the NBC Nightly News both covered the Elizabeth Edwards/Ann Coulter controversy, noting that the Edwards campaign has eagerly used their run-ins with Coulter to raise campaign money. ABC's Jake Tapper relayed the Edwards campaign's success at raising "Coulter cash." NBC's David Gregory quoted only a fragment of a remark Coulter made on Tuesday, making it seem as if she actually hopes John Edwards will be "killed in a terrorist assassination plot."

3. ABC Overnight Anchors Take Shots at Coulter; 'The Bitch Is Back'
ABC's overnight World News Now co-anchors Taina Hernandez and Ryan Owens took some nasty swipes early Thursday morning at conservative columnist Ann Coulter, suggesting an "Ann Coulter blackout" or a "skinny death match" between Coulter and celebrity convict Paris Hilton. At the end of Owens and Hernandez's exchange, and as the weather report began, someone in the control room at ABC queued-up Elton John's "The Bitch Is Back." AUDIO&VIDEO See & Hear the Bias - Audio & Video Clip Archive

4. WashPost Series Presents Cheney as Villain, 'Cruelty' Advocate
The networks are loading up the Darth Cheney segments again, based on this week's "Angler" series in The Washington Post. The most obnoxious installment of the four-part series was Monday's front-pager, which carried the big headline "The Unseen Path to Cruelty." Beneath those words was a picture of a Gitmo guard tower at sunset that associated Cheney with the guilt for Abu Ghraib: "The vice president's office pushed a policy of aggressive interrogation that made its way to the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, above, and Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq."

5. Comedy Central Mocks War Veteran Who Gave Bush a Purple Heart
Comedy Central's The Daily Show often pokes fun at President Bush and his advisors, but isn't it a little low to make fun of a Vietnam veteran because he supports the President? On Monday's Daily Show, "correspondent" Jason Jones conducted a joke interview with Bronze star winner Bill Thomas, who in April gave one of his three Purple Hearts to Bush for showing "phenomenal courage in the face of bitter personal attacks." Jones sarcastically mocked Thomas' gesture, suggesting it was a foolish gift to an unworthy recipient. AUDIO&VIDEO See & Hear the Bias - Audio & Video Clip Archive


Note: In my absence from the MRC, Research Director Rich Noyes compiled this edition of the CyberAlert -- Brent Baker.

Morning Shows Invite Edwards to Continue
Raging Against Coulter

All three broadcast network morning shows on Thursday featured Elizabeth Edwards, wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, to let her continue her campaign against conservative columnist and author Ann Coulter, and all three programs seemed to agree with Edwards' indictment of Coulter's conservative rhetoric. On NBC, David Gregory complained that "this whole episode, I think, is a reminder to a lot of people about why they don't like politics." Over on ABC, fill-in host Chris Cuomo suggested Edwards had lowered herself by even talking with Coulter: "You decided to get involved with someone who is a professional provocateur....Why decide to call in and go toe-to-toe with someone like Ann Coulter?"

All three morning shows had plenty of ideological labels for Coulter, with ABC's Cuomo branding her a "famously tough-talking conservative," CBS's Harry Smith calling her a "conservative political commentator," and NBC's Gregory calling Coulter a "conservative flamethrower" and a "conservative firebrand." But none of the networks could summon a single liberal label for either John or Elizabeth Edwards.

And none of the network interviewers bothered to remind Elizabeth Edwards of the bigoted anti-Christian writings of two women who wrote for her husband's official campaign blog. Back in February, ABC's Terry Moran used his ABCNews blog to publicize "the venom" of Edwards' bloggers Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan, including this "joke" about the so-called morning-after pill:

Q: What if Mary had taken Plan B after the Lord filled her with his hot, white, sticky Holy Spirit?
A: You'd have to justify your misogyny with another ancient mythology.

Initially, John Edwards stood with his hateful bloggers: "I've talked to Amanda and Melissa; they have both assured me that it was never their intention to malign anyone's faith, and I take them at their word." A couple of days later, the two bloggers quit the campaign on their own. For details about that controversy, see the February 22 Media Reality Check Quick Take: www.mediaresearch.org

To their credit, all of the morning shows did challenge Elizabeth Edwards on whether or not her public complaints were timed to help the campaign's fundraising. NBC's Gregory wondered: "We're just a couple days away from the end of the second quarter fundraising totals. Why shouldn't be that viewed as a rather calculated effort on, on the part, on your part and the campaign, generally, to provoke, to engage Ann Coulter for political gain, for financial gain, for the campaign?"

And in a set-up piece before his interview with Elizabeth Edwards on Today, Gregory made it clear that Coulter was joking when she suggested the only safe comment she could make about John Edwards was to hope he was killed in a terrorist attack:

GREGORY: "Ann Coulter, the conservative firebrand, has sharply attacked John Edwards for years."
COULTER, from ABC's Good Morning America on June 25: "If I'm gonna say anything about John Edwards in the future I'll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot."
GREGORY: "That, she pointed out, was something talk show host Bill Maher said about the Vice President, without receiving any criticism."
HBO's BILL MAHER, March 2: "No, I'm just saying, that if he did die, other people, more people would live. That's a fact."

On Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, Gregory omitted the context of Coulter's joke, making it appear as if she was endorsing killing Edwards. (See today's CyberAlert item #2.)

The controversy began when Elizabeth Edwards called up Coulter on Tuesday when the latter was the sole guest on MSNBC's Hardball. Edwards scolded Coulter's rhetoric: "This is not legitimate political dialogue. It debases political dialogue. It draws people away from the process. We can't have a debate about issues if you're using this kind of language."

At another point, host Chris Matthews repeatedly challenged Coulter for using the word "chubby" to mock Hillary Clinton and Monica Lewinsky: "Why do you make fun of Hillary's chubby legs?...Why do you talk about Monica Lewinsky's chubbiness? If she were skinny would it have been okay?...Why do you bring up the word, 'chubby?' Why do you make fun of Hillary's chubby legs?"

MRC's Geoffrey Dickens took down the entire June 26 exchange, which you can read on the MRC's NewsBusters blog: newsbusters.org

According to MSNBC's "First Read" political blog, Edwards' call had been arranged ahead of time by a Hardball producer: "According to an Edwards campaign aide, Elizabeth Edwards wanted to call into the show when she heard that Coulter would be taking questions, and she called a Hardball producer to get the phone number needed to dial into the show." See: firstread.msnbc.msn.com

Here are the highlights of all three June 28 interviews with Elizabeth Edwards, as reviewed by MRC analysts Scott Whitlock, Justin McCarthy and Geoffrey Dickens, including all of the questions posed to Edwards:

# ABC's Good Morning America:

Following a set-up piece by ABC's Jake Tapper that largely matched the report he filed for Wednesday's World News with Charles Gibson (see today's CyberAlert item #2), fill-in host Chris Cuomo began his interview with Elizabeth Edwards by asking about her health:

CHRIS CUOMO: "Okay. And Elizabeth Edwards joins us now not by phone, thankfully, but live from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Elizabeth, thank you so much for joining us. A lot of politics to talk about. But what's first should be first. How are you feeling? How's your health?"
ELIZABETH EDWARDS: "I actually feel great. I've been on the road and I feel I've got a lot of energy out there both from people I've talked to and I've got it, too."
CUOMO: "You certainly do. You seem very robust and you decided to get involved with someone who is a professional provocateur. I understand the statements that triggered it. But why decide to call in and go toe to toe with someone like Ann Coulter?"
EDWARDS: "Well, obviously, not confronting her is not working...."
CUOMO: "Understood. Just to set the stage, much has been made of the statement about a terrorist bombing and whether it's a threat against your husband. Let me play what was actually said on our program. I was asking Ann about why she would say anything like this, threatening or making an aspersion about your husband. Here is what she said. Let's listen to her."

ANN COULTER, from the June 25 Good Morning America: "But about the same time, you know, Bill Maher was not joking and saying he wished Dick Cheney had been killed in a terrorist attack. So I've learned my lesson. If I'm going to say anything about John Edwards in the future, I'll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot."
CUOMO: "Now, hearing it in that context, that it wasn't so much a direct threat against your husband that he die in a attack, but in context to what other people hadn't wanted to talk about, do you feel any differently?"
EDWARDS: "You know, honestly, having listened to Ann Coulter for a number of years and even listened the other day on your show and on '€˜Hardball,' I don't trust her rendition of what somebody else said...."
CUOMO: "Now, while I understand that point, on the other side, people are offering some criticism saying that the campaign is using Coulter's statements to raise money. Is that fair criticism, that the Edwards campaign is making some political hay out of the situation for their own benefit?"
EDWARDS: "...Honestly, it's more important to me that we change the tenor of the dialogue than on some particular day we raise, we raise money."
CUOMO: "Have you seen any sign that the situation has helped? I mean, you know, as everybody is well aware, your husband is in third in most polls now. And that has got to be disappointing after all the exposure that he's had. To the extent he has not been gaining any traction thus far, do you believe this could be a turning point?"
EDWARDS: "Well, you know, I actually think that in the early states, where they're paying the most attention to the substantive political dialogue, John, John's doing quite well, first in Iowa, second or third in New Hampshire. But that's not really the point. The point is, for all of us, for our children, to change the dialogue. I'm not interested in'€" It never occurred to me when I made this call that it was going to help John in, in some poll some place. It was going to help my children is what I was hoping it would do and the rest of us who are sick and tired of this kind of language."
CUOMO: "Because of the reaction that's come out of this situation, I understand that this is, you say this is something that you did on your own accord. Is it something you would do again now that you've seen the reaction?"
EDWARDS: "...I've done a good thing and I'd do it again. I remember in the south people speaking out against-racist language. It made a difference to speak out. And I spoke out then and I'm not unhappy to have spoken out now."
CUOMO: "All right, Elizabeth, Mrs. Edwards. Thank you very much for joining us and talking to us about it."

For more details on how ABC's Good Morning America handled its interview with Elizabeth Edwards, check out Scott Whitlock's full post at the MRC's blog at NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org


# CBS's The Early Show:

HARRY SMITH: Conservative political commentator Ann Coulter is known for making outrageous comments. This week, she said Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards should be killed in a terrorist assassination plot. We'll explain that more in a second. During a cable talk show, Edwards' wife Elizabeth decided to call Coulter on her comments.
ELIZABETH EDWARDS, clip from Tuesday's Hardball: I'm asking you politely to stop -- to stop personal attacks-
ANN COULTER: How about you stop raising money on your web page then?
EDWARDS: It did not-
COULTER: No, you don't have to because I don't mind-
EDWARDS: It did not start with that. You had a column a number of years ago.
COULTER: The wife of a presidential candidate is calling me asking me to stop speaking?
SMITH: Elizabeth Edwards is here to talk about that heated exchange. Elizabeth, good morning.
EDWARDS: Good morning, Harry.
SMITH: Good to be with you. Let me just explain a little bit. Because Coulter was on a talk show earlier this week, on a morning show. And basically, when she was being asked about this lame joke she had made about your husband earlier this year, kind of an inference about him -- him being gay or something, Coulter comes back and says, well, "Bill Maher was not joking, saying he wished Dick Cheney had been killed in a terrorist attack, so I've learned my lesson. If I'm going to say anything about John Edwards in the future, I'll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot." So later in the week then, she pops up with Chris Matthews. I guess you said you were not going to stand still anymore and you decided to call in. What point were you trying to get across?
EDWARDS: Just that we have an obligation to the political process, to our children....
SMITH: What she said then is how can you be making this criticism if you then used some of the sound -- her own words on your website to help raise money? Is there a -- are you applying a double standard?
EDWARDS: Well, I think that we're trying to do is to say we have a choice here as an American public. We can choose this. And we say that this choice is this kind of language. And, yes, we do -- we do show you what it is we're asking you to reject, or you could embrace a campaign of ideas....
SMITH: The other question that comes up is why didn't John call in?
EDWARDS: Well, you know, I don't know whether -- we've both been dancing as fast as we can at the end of the fund-raising quarter....
SMITH: And enough is enough, alright. Mrs. Edwards, thank you so much. Take care.

For more details on how CBS's The Early Show handled its interview with Elizabeth Edwards, check out Justin McCarthy's full post at the MRC's blog at NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org


# NBC's Today, starting with the loaded teases the led up to the 7:33am EDT interview:

DAVID GREGORY: "Also this morning, we're gonna be talking about politics. Elizabeth Edwards is gonna be here after her on air confrontation with conservative commentator Ann Coulter. This whole episode, I think, is a reminder to a lot of people about why they don't like politics. We'll talk about the fallout from all of this coming up."

GREGORY: "Also this morning, cable clash. Presidential candidate John Edwards' wife, Elizabeth, calling into MSNBC's Hardball, you remember, earlier in the week, to take on conservative flamethrower Ann Coulter. But are both sides in this fight profiting from this exchange and is this an example of what a lot of people don't like about politics. Coming up we're gonna have a live interview with Elizabeth Edwards and we'll talk about it."
MEREDITH VIEIRA: "And up next she said/she said. The dustup on national TV between Ann Coulter and Elizabeth Edwards. Is politics getting too nasty? A live interview with Elizabeth Edwards, right after this."

...

DAVID GREGORY: "It was a battle royale played out on national television. Elizabeth Edwards, wife of presidential candidate, John Edwards, taking on conservative columnist Ann Coulter, live on MSNBC. Well today, the two sides are still fighting. But, in fact, are both sides profiting politically and financially? Caught on cable, a lively debate about cutthroat politics."
[Begin clip] ANN COULTER: "Don't talk to me about, about how to use language."
CHRIS MATTHEWS: "Elizabeth."
ELIZABETH EDWARDS: "...that language of hate and I'm, I, I'm gonna ask you again to politely stop using persona attacks as part of your dialogue."
COULTER: "Okay I'll stop writing books...I think we heard all we need to hear. The wife of a presidential candidate is asking me to stop speaking, no."
MATTHEWS: "No she said you should stop being so negative to people, individually." [End clip]

[On screen headline: "Out of Control? The Politics of Ann Coulter"]

GREGORY: "Ann Coulter, the conservative firebrand, has sharply attacked John Edwards for years."
COULTER, from Monday's Good Morning America: "If I'm gonna say anything about John Edwards in the future I'll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot."
GREGORY: "That, she pointed out, was something talk show host Bill Maher said about the Vice President, without receiving any criticism."
HBO's BILL MAHER, from the March 2 Real Time with Bill Maher: "No, I'm just saying, that if he did die, other people, more people would live. That's a fact."
ELIZABETH EDWARDS, from Tuesday's Hardball: "Hello, Chris."
GREGORY: "But on Tuesday, Elizabeth Edwards called into MSNBC's Hardball to say enough is enough. For the Edwards campaign it was a calculated step to speak out against, what it calls, hate speech. And it seized on the exchange, immediately, for a fundraising pitch on its Web site."
BYRON YORK, National Review: "As they say in the business world, there was a revenue component for both sides about this. If, anybody, on the outside, of the political world were to look at it, I think they might just look at it and say, 'you know a pox on both your houses.'"
GREGORY: "Senator Edwards insisted presidential candidates have a duty to respond to attacks but he admitted conservatives are not the only offenders."
JOHN EDWARDS: "I agree it's an issue from the extremes, yeah. And I, but I think in this case, in this case, the language that has been used by this particular person and people like her is extraordinarily damaging."
GREGORY: "Coulter's defenders, however, say she represents the voice of conservatives responding to the mainstream media."
PAT BUCHANAN, conservative commentator: "They feel we're, you know, we're now giving it back, what's been given to us. And Ann Coulter is one of those, at the top of her game, who is very good, very cutting, very witty and very funny."
[On screen headline: "Coulter Clash, Elizabeth Edwards One-On-One"]
GREGORY: "Elizabeth Edwards is in Chapel Hill, North Carolina this morning. Mrs. Edwards, good morning, thanks for being here....I have to ask you, when you decided to call in to Chris Matthews' Hardball show on MSNBC were you trying to provoke a confrontation or do, in your own mind, did you think, 'I'm really gonna change Ann Coulter's mind and her tune?'"
EDWARDS: "Well I actually didn't think I was gonna change Ann Coulter's mind ...."
GREGORY: "You, you, you said rather pointedly, that you think Ann Coulter is guilty of hate speech against your husband and, and others as well. If you strip away some of the inflammatory rhetoric against your husband and, and other Democrats, the point she's trying to make about your husband, Senator Edwards, running for the White House, is in effect, that he's disingenuous, especially on the signature issue of poverty, whether it's a $400 haircut or taking big, big money to speak in front of a poverty group. If you, again, strip away the inflammatory rhetoric, is that a real point of vulnerability that you have to deal with in this campaign?"
EDWARDS: "David, that is not, that has absolutely nothing to do with what she was saying, whatsoever...."
GREGORY: "Do you think it's an issue of not just, with Ann Coulter, but with some of the commentators on the left as well?"
EDWARDS: "On both sides and not just Ann Coulter on the right but a large number on the right...."
GREGORY: "You, you, you, as I pointed out in, in the piece, you immediately seized on this confrontation, as you've been doing for some time. I say, you, I mean the campaign, to use Ann Coulter in this confrontation, to pitch your base for money, for campaign funds. We're just a couple days away from the end of the second quarter fundraising totals. Why shouldn't be that viewed as a rather calculated effort on, on the part, on your part and the campaign, generally, to provoke, to engage Ann Coulter for political gain, for financial gain, for the campaign?"
EDWARDS: "Well I suppose if I had booked Ann Coulter on, on ABC or on, on Hardball on MSNBC at the end of the political, at the end of the fundraising quarter, that complaint might be legitimate. I had no idea, when she was gonna roll out her book or when she was gonna get back on the air again...."
GREGORY: "Can I just ask you quickly, I want to switch gears. Your prominence in the campaign is pointed up by this and I know a lot of people are, are wondering how you're doing, how your health is."
EDWARDS: "Actually I'm doing well and I appreciate your asking, David...."
GREGORY: "Has your outlook changed at all and your level of involvement in the campaign?"
EDWARDS: "You know I, I think, probably, I may be a little more driven but I also have to be a little more careful because I have to keep myself healthy."
GREGORY: "Alright, Elizabeth Edwards, thanks very much for coming on this morning."

For more details on how NBC's Today handled its interview with Elizabeth Edwards, check out Geoffrey Dickens' full post at the MRC's blog at NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org

ABC Links Edwards Call to Fundraising;
Nightly News Twists Quote

On Wednesday evening, ABC's World News with Charles Gibson and the NBC Nightly News both covered the Elizabeth Edwards/Ann Coulter controversy, noting that the Edwards campaign has eagerly used their run-ins with Coulter to raise campaign money. ABC's Jake Tapper uniquely noted this week's fundraising deadline for the presidential race, while relaying the Edwards campaign's success at raising $300,000 in "Coulter cash" earlier this year. Tapper: "Just as Coulter has a book to promote this week, Edwards has a fund-raising deadline. Enemies can have their uses."

NBC's David Gregory also noted the Edwards campaign's immediate use of yesterday's flap to solicit campaign money, but the network failed to put one of Coulter's controversial quotes in proper context, thus making it appear worse than it actually sounded in full. On Monday's Good Morning America, while answering a question about her joke from last March about needing to go to rehab if she called John Edwards a "faggot," Coulter suggested there was a double standard between the outrage over her remark and the greater tolerance by the media and liberals of a comment by Bill Maher about whether the world would be a better place if Vice President Cheney had been assassinated.

[This item is adapted from a posting Wednesday, by Brad Wilmouth, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Coulter's original comment from Monday's GMA: "I did not call John Edwards the F-word. I said I couldn't talk about him because you could go into rehab for using that word. But about the same time, you know, Bill Maher was not joking and saying he wished Dick Cheney had been killed in a terrorist attack. So, I've learned my lesson. If I'm going to say anything about John Edwards in the future, I'll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot."

But NBC's Gregory only showed the most provocative part of her statement, not conveying that her intent was to chastize those who tolerated Maher's comments. The shortened version run by NBC: "If I'm going to say anything about John Edwards in the future, I'll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot."

[The MRC's Tim Graham caught how the Washington Post was guilty of the same devious editing. Thursday's "Reliable Source" gossip column by Roxanne Roberts and Amy Argetsinger, like Gregory the night before, made it seem as if Coulter had actually threatened John Edwards: "The conservative shock-pundit, who sniped on Good Morning America Monday that she hoped the Democratic candidate would be 'killed in a terrorist assassination plot,' was a guest on MSNBC's Hardball Tuesday night, prompting a live call-in by Elizabeth, who demanded that Coulter 'stop the personal attacks.'" For Graham's complete item, visit our NewsBusters blog: newsbusters.org ]

(On Thursday's Today, in his interview with Elizabeth Edwards, NBC's Gregory did supply the full context of Coulter's "terrorist assassination plot" remark. See CyberAlert item #1.)

Below is a complete transcript of Jake Tapper's report from the June 27 World News with Charles Gibson, followed by a complete transcript of David Gregory's report from the June 27 NBC Nightly News. (The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, with substitute anchor Harry Smith, made no mention of the Coulter-Edwards contretemps.)


# From the Wednesday, June 27 World News with Charles Gibson:

CHARLES GIBSON, before commercial break: Still ahead on this broadcast, the verbal smackdown between the wife of a presidential candidate and an incendiary columnist. It can be so useful in politics to have enemies.

...

GIBSON: There has been a lot of talk about bringing civility back to the political arena. At times, that seems to be a rather quaint notion. Last night, Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, phoned a talk show to demand that conservative commentator Ann Coulter stop attacking her husband in bitter, personal derogatory terms. As our Jake Tapper reports, both sides then tried to use the confrontation to their own benefit.
MSNBC's CHRIS MATTHEWS, clip from Tuesday's Hardball: Elizabeth Edwards, go on the line. You're on the line with Ann Coulter.
JAKE TAPPER: Elizabeth Edwards asked Ann Coulter to stop the personal attacks.
ELIZABETH EDWARDS, from Tuesday's Hardball: It debases political dialogue. It drives people away from the process. We can't have a debate about issues if you're using this kind of language.
Male voice from the audience: Why isn't John Edwards making this call?
ANN COULTER: Yeah, why isn't John Edwards making this call?
MATTHEWS: Well, do you want to respond? We'll end this conversation.
ELIZABETH EDWARDS: I haven't talked to John about this call.
COULTER: I think this is just another attempt for a-
TAPPER: Earlier this year, Coulter had used an anti-gay slur to mock John Edwards.
COULTER, giving a speech at CPAC: You have to go into rehab if you use the word "faggot," so I'm kind of at an impasse. Can't really talk about Edwards.
TAPPER: Edwards condemned her, using the controversy to try to project strength and rally the liberal base. His campaign e-mailed out a video of her comments, raising $300,000 of so-called "Coulter cash" for his campaign. The best-selling author has carved out a niche for herself in the culture, using a knife of cruelty and hyperbole, such as in a column in which Coulter accuses Edwards of exploiting the loss of his son, Wade, in 1996, joking he had a bumper sticker saying, quote, "Ask me about my son's death in a horrific car accident."
ELIZABETH EDWARDS, from Tuesday's Hardball: I'm the mother of that boy who died. These young people behind you are the age of my children. You're asking them to participate in a dialogue that's based on hatefulness and ugliness instead of on the issues.
COULTER: I think we heard all we need to hear. The wife of a presidential candidate is asking me to stop speaking. No.
TAPPER: Today came an Elizabeth Edwards e-mail, raising more Coulter cash. Campaigning in Texas, her husband says he's proud.
JOHN EDWARDS: We're saying to other Americans, good people who believe the same thing, you can join us in this. Your voice needs to be heard. You can participate in it. You can contribute to it.
TAPPER: Just as Coulter has a book to promote this week, Edwards has a fund-raising deadline. Enemies can have their uses. Jake Tapper, ABC News, Washington.


# From the Wednesday, June 27 NBC Nightly News:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: As we said a minute ago, it happened on live television on an afternoon political cable show, and it quickly became the shot heard around the airwaves that both sides are still talking about tonight. Elizabeth Edwards, wife of the Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, confronted the controversial author Ann Coulter. Here is NBC's David Gregory.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, hosting the June 26 Hardball on MSNBC: Elizabeth Edwards, go on the line. You're on the line with Ann Coulter.
DAVID GREGORY: It was a telephone call into an afternoon cable show, but it wasn't just any caller. Elizabeth Edwards and Ann Coulter at each other's throats over cut-throat politics.
ANN COULTER, from the June 26 Hardball: Don't talk to me about how to use language.
MATTHEWS: Elizabeth?
ELIZABETH EDWARDS, by phone: That language is hate.
GREGORY: Coulter, the conservative firebrand, has sharply attacked John Edwards for years, accusing him of exploiting the death of his son. Monday on ABC she took another shot, saying she would no longer attack Edwards by suggesting he's gay.
COULTER, from the June 25 Good Morning America: If I'm going to say anything about John Edwards in the future, I'll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot.
GREGORY: Mrs. Edwards called in to MSNBC's Hardball to say enough is enough.
ELIZABETH EDWARDS, from Hardball: It debases political dialogue. It drives people away from the process. We can't have a debate about issues if you're using this kind of language.
COULTER: I think we heard all we need to hear. The wife of a presidential candidate is asking me to stop speaking. No.
MATTHEWS: No, she said you should stop being so negative to people individually.
GREGORY: The exchange may have been spontaneous, but the Edwards campaign made a calculated effort to confront Coulter, and, after the television showdown, posted a fundraising letter on its Web site, saying, quote, "John's campaign is about the issues -- but pundits like Ann Coulter are trying to shout him down. It's up to us to cut through the noise. Help us fight back." Today, Senator Edwards defended the fundraising pitch.
JOHN EDWARDS: Well, I think, first of all, it's important to understand that Ann Coulter started this. We didn't have any control over her saying the hateful things she said in the last couple of days.
GREGORY: This issue has lit up cable television and the blogosphere today, but it's also a reminder of what so many Americans so dislike about politics. David Gregory, NBC News, the White House.

ABC Overnight Anchors Take Shots at Coulter;
'The Bitch Is Back'

ABC's overnight World News Now co-anchors Taina Hernandez and Ryan Owens took some nasty swipes early Thursday morning at conservative columnist Ann Coulter, suggesting an "Ann Coulter blackout" or a "skinny death match" between Coulter and celebrity convict Paris Hilton. At the end of Owens and Hernandez's exchange, and as the weather report began, someone in the control room at ABC queued-up Elton John's "The Bitch Is Back."


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More See & Hear the Bias

[This item is adapted from a posting Thursday, by Matt Balan, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The anchors' gleefully took their shots at Coulter at around 3:30am EDT on Thursday morning, after ABC aired a taped report on how Democratic candidate John Edwards' wife Elizabeth has been attacking Coulter this week:

RYAN OWENS: "Ok. I have an idea."
TAINA HERNANDEZ: "Ok?"
OWENS: "You know how we have a Paris Hilton blackout? "
HERNANDEZ: (Laughs) "Yes?"
OWENS: "How about an Ann Coulter blackout?"
HERNANDEZ: "Ah, no 'Coulter cash' for us."
OWENS: "No."
HERNANDEZ: "No. All right. Or we can pit them together in some kind of skinny death match?"
OWENS: "Skinny death match?"
(Unidentified person off-camera) "Or go to jail together."
OWENS: "Here's your weather."
HERNANDEZ: "Or go to jail together. That's Peter. Here's your weather."

WashPost Series Presents Cheney as Villain,
'Cruelty' Advocate

The networks are loading up the Darth Cheney segments again (see the June 27 CyberAlert item: www.mrc.org ), based on this week's "Angler" series in The Washington Post. The most obnoxious installment of the four-part series was Monday's front-pager, which carried the big headline "The Unseen Path to Cruelty." Beneath those words was a picture of a Gitmo guard tower at sunset that associated Cheney with the guilt for Abu Ghraib: "The vice president's office pushed a policy of aggressive interrogation that made its way to the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, above, and Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq." Now that Rumsfeld's gone, the center of the Abu Ghraib conspiracy map moved across town.

For as much as liberals love the notion of "activism," they certainly haven't demonstrated much of it in the war on terrorism. The Clinton administration didn't capture top suspects like Abu Zubeida and Khalid Sheikh Muhammad. They could only manage to indict Osama bin Laden in absentia. They don't even accept the terminology. Late in this massive story, Post reporters Barton Gellman and Jo Becker wrote: "For all the apparent setbacks, close observers said, Cheney has preserved his top-priority tools in the 'war on terror.'"

[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The logo for the series is an all-black silhouette of Cheney, complete with a villain's hat. In the third paragraph, Gellman and Becker turned on the adjectives to describe Cheney's vicious approach to terrorist suspects:

Cheney turned his attention to the practical business of crushing a captive's will to resist. The vice president's office played a central role in shattering limits on coercion of prisoners in U.S. custody, commissioning and defending legal opinions that the Bush administration has since portrayed as the initiatives, months later, of lower-ranking officials."

Cheney and his allies, according to more than two dozen current and former officials, pioneered a novel distinction between forbidden "torture" and permitted use of "cruel, inhuman or degrading" methods of questioning. They did not originate every idea to rewrite or reinterpret the law, but fresh accounts from participants show that they translated muscular theories, from Yoo and others, into the operational language of government.

A backlash beginning in 2004, after reports of abuse leaked out of Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and Guantanamo Bay, brought what appeared to be sharp reversals in courts and Congress -- for Cheney's claims of executive supremacy and for his unyielding defense of what he called "robust interrogation."

But a more careful look at the results suggests that Cheney won far more than he lost. Many of the harsh measures he championed, and some of the broadest principles undergirding them, have survived intact but out of public view.

END of Excerpt

For the June 25 installment in full: blog.washingtonpost.com

Gellman and Becker never explored in this installment whether aggressive interrogations led to the prevention of more terrorist attacks. Has the detention and questioning of top al-Qaeda leaders been part of the reason why the American homeland has not been attacked since 9-11? The Post didn't seem to want to explore that avenue. Instead, the Post is typically fixated on the liberties of terror suspects -- and not on the liberties of Americans who never died in post-September 11 terrorist reruns.

Comedy Central Mocks War Veteran Who
Gave Bush a Purple Heart

Comedy Central's The Daily Show often pokes fun at President Bush and his closest advisors and Cabinet members, but isn't it a little low, even for The Daily Show, to mock a Vietnam veteran because he supports the President?

On June 25, the Comedy Central show did exactly that, airing a pre-recorded and what appeared to be a heavily edited interview with Bill


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More See & Hear the Bias

Thomas, a Vietnam veteran who won four Bronze Stars and three Purple Heart medals. Back in April, Thomas decided to give one his Purple Heart to President Bush. He told Daily Show "correspondent" Jason Jones that he thinks the President is a "a hero by virtue of the fact that he's shown phenomenal courage in the face of bitter personal attacks on his competence, his integrity and everything else."

[This item is adapted from a posting Thursday, by the MRC's Melissa Lopez, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

But on Monday's program, Jones sarcastically mocked Thomas' gesture, suggesting it was a foolish gift to an unworthy recipient:

JASON JONES: "So Bill Thomas honored the President's courage under verbal fire by presenting him with one of his own Purple Hearts. (Sitting across from Thomas) Let me just get this straight. You were wounded by bullets and grenades three times and you gave your medal to the President who has been wounded by words."
BILL THOMAS, decorated Vietnam war veteran: "Absolutely."
JONES: "So you gave your medal to George Bush."
THOMAS: "Yes."
JONES: "I got a quick follow-up to that. George W. Bush?"
THOMAS: "George W. Bush, yes."
JONES: "And he didn't take it."
THOMAS: "He did take it."
JONES (incredulous): "He did?"
THOMAS: "Pain is pain."
JONES: "And his pain is real."

-- Edited by Rich Noyes; Reviewed by Brent Baker