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L’Affaire Coulter
National Review Online ^ | 10/3/01 | Jonah Goldberg

Posted on 10/03/2001 11:35:13 AM PDT by BamaG

L’Affaire Coulter
Goodbye to all that.

By Jonah Goldberg, NRO Editor
October 3, 2001 2:20 p.m.

 

ear Readers,

As many of you may have heard, we've dropped Ann Coulter's column from NRO. This has sparked varying amounts of protest, support, and, most of all, curiosity from our readers. We owe you an explanation.

Of course, we would explain our decision to Ann, but the reality is that she's called the shots from the get-go. It was Ann who decided to sever her ties with National Review — not the other way around.

This is what happened.

In the wake of her invade-and-Christianize-them column, Coulter wrote a long, rambling rant of a response to her critics that was barely coherent. She's a smart and funny person, but this was Ann at her worst — emoting rather than thinking, and badly needing editing and some self-censorship, or what is commonly referred to as "judgment."

Running this "piece" would have been an embarrassment to Ann, and to NRO. Rich Lowry pointed this out to her in an e-mail (I was returning from my honeymoon). She wrote back an angry response, defending herself from the charge that she hates Muslims and wants to convert them at gunpoint.

But this was not the point. It was NEVER the point. The problem with Ann's first column was its sloppiness of expression and thought. Ann didn't fail as a person — as all her critics on the Left say — she failed as WRITER, which for us is almost as bad.

Rich wrote her another e-mail, engaging her on this point, and asking her — in more diplomatic terms — to approach the whole controversy not as a PR-hungry, free-swinging pundit on Geraldo, but as a careful writer.

No response.

Instead, she apparently proceeded to run around town bad-mouthing NR and its employees. Then she showed up on TV and, in an attempt to ingratiate herself with fellow martyr Bill Maher, said we were "censoring" her.

By this point, it was clear she wasn't interested in continuing the relationship.

What publication on earth would continue a relationship with a writer who would refuse to discuss her work with her editors? What publication would continue to publish a writer who attacked it on TV? What publication would continue to publish a writer who lied about it — on TV and to a Washington Post reporter?

And, finally, what CONSERVATIVE publication would continue to publish a writer who doesn't even know the meaning of the word "censorship"?

So let me be clear: We did not "fire" Ann for what she wrote, even though it was poorly written and sloppy. We ended the relationship because she behaved with a total lack of professionalism, friendship, and loyalty.

What's Ann's take on all this? Well, she told the Washington Post yesterday that she loves it, because she's gotten lots of great publicity. That pretty much sums Ann up.

On the Sean Hannity show yesterday, however, apparently embarrassed by her admission to the Post, she actually tried to deny that she has sought publicity in this whole matter. Well, then, Ann, why did you complain of being "censored" on national TV? Why did you brag to the Post about all the PR?

Listening to Ann legalistically dodge around trying to explain all this would have made Bill Clinton blush.

Ann also told the Post that we only paid her $5 a month for her work (would that it were so!). Either this is a deliberate lie, or Ann needs to call her accountant because someone's been skimming her checks.

Many readers have asked, why did we run the original column in which Ann declared we should "invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity" — if we didn't like it?

Well, to be honest, it was a mistake. It stemmed from the fact this was a supposedly pre-edited syndicated column, coming in when NRO was operating with one phone line and in general chaos. Our bad.

Now as far as Ann's charges go, I must say it's hard to defend against them, because they either constitute publicity-minded name-calling, like calling us "girly-boys" — or they're so much absurd bombast.

For example:

  • Ann — a self-described "constitutional lawyer" — volunteered on Politically Incorrect that our "censoring" of her column was tantamount to "repealing the First Amendment." Apparently, in Ann's mind, she constitutes the thin blonde line between freedom and tyranny, and so any editorial decision she dislikes must be a travesty.
  • She sniffed to the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz that "Every once in awhile they'll [National Review] throw one of their people to the wolves to get good press in left-wing publications." I take personal offense to this charge. She's accusing us of betraying a friend for publicity, when in fact it was the other way around.
  • And, lastly, this "Joan of Arc battling the forces of political correctness" act doesn't wash. In the same 20 days in which Ann says — over and over and over again — that NR has succumbed to "PC hysteria," we've run pieces celebrating every PC shibboleth and bogeyman.

Paul Johnson has criticized Islam as an imperial religion. William F. Buckley himself has called, essentially, for a holy war. Rich Lowry wants to bring back the Shah, and I've written that Western Civilization has every right to wave the giant foam "We're Number 1!" finger as high as it wants.

The only difference between what we've run and what Ann considers so bravely iconoclastic on her part, is that we've run articles that accord persuasion higher value than shock value. It's true: Ann is fearless, in person and in her writing. But fearlessness isn't an excuse for crappy writing or crappier behavior.

To be honest, even though there's a lot more that could be said, I have no desire to get any deeper into this because, like with a Fellini movie, the deeper you get, the less sense Ann makes.

We're delighted that FrontPageMagazine has, with remarkable bravery, picked up Ann's column, presumably for only $5 a month. They'll be getting more than what they're paying for, I'm sure.

— Jonah Goldberg



TOPICS: Editorial; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: anncoulter; coulter
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This, of course will change no one's mind. Those who worship at the alter of Ann will continue to make "girly boy" comments and refuse to acknowledge that the National Review even had the right to drop her. I will continue to subscribe, as I have done for years.
1 posted on 10/03/2001 11:35:13 AM PDT by BamaG
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To: BamaG
Me too
2 posted on 10/03/2001 11:37:57 AM PDT by duvausa
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To: BamaG
I was just about to post this. Glad I did one last search, because now you can take the heat for pointing out that there are two sides to this squalid little issue.
3 posted on 10/03/2001 11:40:10 AM PDT by BurkeanCyclist
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To: BamaG
btt
4 posted on 10/03/2001 11:40:45 AM PDT by sendtoscott
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To: BamaG
This sounds like a catfight to me. But I'll still subscribe.
5 posted on 10/03/2001 11:40:51 AM PDT by Constitution Day
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To: BamaG
Of course NR had the right to drop her. So what? Go Ann!!
6 posted on 10/03/2001 11:41:38 AM PDT by <1/1,000,000th%
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To: BamaG

7 posted on 10/03/2001 11:42:17 AM PDT by The Other Harry
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To: BamaG
I wish they'd stop tearing each other apart in public. The attempts at self-justification on both sides just make them look small.
8 posted on 10/03/2001 11:42:21 AM PDT by lady lawyer
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To: BamaG
I'm surprised that JG didn't blame the column on PMS.....
9 posted on 10/03/2001 11:42:25 AM PDT by ken5050
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To: BamaG
These people should not be airing their lace panties in public.
10 posted on 10/03/2001 11:42:54 AM PDT by Jim Robinson
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To: BamaG
I agree with you - Coulter seems to be acting very odd lately. I understand that this is an emotional time for all, and hopefully she'll regain her senses soon.
11 posted on 10/03/2001 11:43:02 AM PDT by NittanyLion
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To: duvausa
Ditto. But if Jonah wanted to get beyond the 'girlyman' monicker, he should have edited out the cattiness in this column. It's, well, unmanly.
12 posted on 10/03/2001 11:43:34 AM PDT by Right Wing Professor
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To: BamaG
"Apparently, in Ann's mind, she constitutes the thin blonde line between freedom and tyranny, and so any editorial decision she dislikes must be a travesty."

This line is particularly low, and IMHO a cheap shot. What's the matter Jonah, did Ann hurt your feelings?

Notforprophet

13 posted on 10/03/2001 11:44:47 AM PDT by Notforprophet
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To: BamaG
I think NRO should have picked-up the phone and called her. Solving issue via email is sloppy business practice.
14 posted on 10/03/2001 11:44:49 AM PDT by 11th Commandment
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To: BamaG
actually, this did change my mind. Jonah laid it our pretty well here, without resorting to name calling, and I believe that Ann is not of sound mind with lingering thoughts of Barbara Olson.
15 posted on 10/03/2001 11:45:55 AM PDT by francisandbeans
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To: BamaG
I'm usually a big fan of Ann's work, and I have no particular fondness for National Review (sorry, Jonah, but "girly-boys" is almost too apt.) However, that "Bring back the Crusades" column was embarrassing, and, from what I've heard, her behavior ever since has been yet more embarrassing. I understand how overemotional she is about 9/11--who isn't?--but Goldberg's right, her feelings are overriding her good sense on this one.
16 posted on 10/03/2001 11:46:38 AM PDT by white rose
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To: BamaG
So, she blew it.NR will carry on, and I will continue to enjoy the wide variety of writers they have.It's all very petty.
17 posted on 10/03/2001 11:47:43 AM PDT by habs4ever
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To: duvausa
Methinks this whole affair smacks of publicity for both sides. Nothing like a knock-down, drag out brawl to bring attention to both sides.

As for Jonah Goldberg, to claim the article was not edited is amusing. Does this mean it was formatted and uploaded to the NR site by Ann Coulter without aid of someone at NR?

Yes, I would give all my writers the access codes and tools to upload to my site. /sarcasm off

I will continue to read both NR and Frontpage. Heck, liberal publications are talking about the battle, which means perhaps some people who only pay attention to mainstream lefty lib news will find out there is another side to the news.

18 posted on 10/03/2001 11:48:15 AM PDT by stylin_geek
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To: Jim Robinson
These people should not be airing their lace panties in public

Yeah, but can't we make an exception for Ann?

19 posted on 10/03/2001 11:48:39 AM PDT by IowaHawk
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To: BamaG
Goldberg: Oh, we've published PLENTY of anti-Arab, anti-Islamic, kill-everyone screeds, but Ann's was too ... honest.

Bwahahahahahaha!

Worse than Goldberg is David Horowitz, who "hired" Coulter as soon as she got the boot from NRO. His explanation was that her "invade their countries, and convert them to Christianity" was "tongue-in-cheek." Yeah, right. At least Coulter has the, uh, cojones to say what she really believes -- as stupid as it is.

20 posted on 10/03/2001 11:49:07 AM PDT by Justin Raimondo
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To: BamaG
I'll buy his story. I read the column, and I thought she stepped out of bounds. Sure, I understood how and why she could write such a thing, and I personally had no problem with it because I understood where it was coming from. Having said that, I think NRO was perfectly within their right, editorially, to do what they did, and I understand their point of view as well.

There is no need to choose sides. I love them BOTH and unless they turn into commies, I always will.

Can't we all just git along?

21 posted on 10/03/2001 11:49:08 AM PDT by Paradox
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To: BamaG
I don't know what to think. I love Ann, but I admit that I thought here "Christianize-'em-at-gunpoint" article was way over the top. But I chalked it up to the emotion of the moment. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that Ann lost a friend in the WTC or the Pentagon.

But the aftermath, where she's going around and bad-mouthing NR...that's just plain strange. No matter how much you disagree with editorial decisions, that's just WRONG. It's sophomoric.

Ann, you're the most beautiful conservative alive, but PLEASE get a grip!!!

22 posted on 10/03/2001 11:49:12 AM PDT by Illbay
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To: BamaG
Can't say we're sorry to see her go. She no longer comes across as rational or educated on the subject at hand. I know I'm repeating myself, but our friends and us have noted how shrill and rude she has become in the last 6 months. Time for Ann to get off the "Susan Ethridge" train, and back to the basics that afforded her respect from so many in the past.

In other words,.. Ann really needs to "get over herself". She should take some lessons from Barbara Olsen,.. not Susan Ethridge who drives us to change the channel upon hearing her voice!

23 posted on 10/03/2001 11:49:29 AM PDT by Vets_Husband_and_Wife
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To: Constitution Day
"This sounds like a catfight to me. But I'll still subscribe. "

Not me.......I'll follow Ann.

24 posted on 10/03/2001 11:49:42 AM PDT by cd jones
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To: Justin Raimondo
gee I was just thinking about you....with the private fights in public and all
25 posted on 10/03/2001 11:50:28 AM PDT by francisandbeans
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To: Jim Robinson
Just like to remind everyone that Jonah's mom, Lucianne, once pulled a fast one on all her erstwhile Freeper friends, and you, good sir, especially.....so maybe the fruit doesn't fall too far from the tree.......
26 posted on 10/03/2001 11:51:01 AM PDT by ken5050
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To: BamaG
I will continue to subscribe [to NR], as I have done for years.

Me too.

In cases like this, the truth is generally someplace in the middle. Goldberg's probably overstating the case, and Coulter came out looking really bad even in her own defense.

I mean, really: if NRO can't "censor" its own content, then all the constitutional law in Ann's pretty head is moot.

IMO, Ann's real frustration is that her TV days are over for now. The networks don't want or need a telegenic blonde "constitutional lawyer" to discuss terrorists and special-ops warfare. Nor, for that matter, do I.

Whereas NR has a long and glorious history of bringing in experts to give a detailed and nuanced look at whatever subject is at hand.

NRO: 1
Ann Coulter: 0

27 posted on 10/03/2001 11:51:06 AM PDT by r9etb
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To: BamaG
L’Affaire Coulter - Just the thought gets me excited.
28 posted on 10/03/2001 11:51:10 AM PDT by SC DOC
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To: francisandbeans
Y'know, I didn't connect those dots. I just mentioned in a previous post that Ann might have lost someone in the disasters. I had forgotten about Barbara Olson.
29 posted on 10/03/2001 11:51:23 AM PDT by Illbay
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To: Illbay
FYI: she was pretty darned close to Barbara Olsen
30 posted on 10/03/2001 11:51:29 AM PDT by francisandbeans
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To: francisandbeans
actually, this did change my mind. Jonah laid it our pretty well here, without resorting to name calling

He gets pretty catty though:

"I have no desire to get any deeper into this because, like with a Fellini movie, the deeper you get, the less sense Ann makes.

"We're delighted that FrontPageMagazine has, with remarkable bravery, picked up Ann's column, presumably for only $5 a month. They'll be getting more than what they're paying for, I'm sure."

I don't think the column served any purpose that as public punch-back.

31 posted on 10/03/2001 11:51:32 AM PDT by The Other Harry
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To: BamaG
I guess its time to come out and say that I actually agree with Goldberg. Ann can be bombastic, and that not a bad thing. However, the publication has every right to sever ties with her. It will take a couple of months to get over it.
32 posted on 10/03/2001 11:52:12 AM PDT by KC_Conspirator
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To: BamaG
I'd suggest they settle this thing out in the parking lot but alot of neocons would probably faint at the sight of Jonah's blood.

Let's see if the little Squirrel has the stones to disassociate WFB from NRO for saying in as many words the same thing as Coulter.

33 posted on 10/03/2001 11:53:09 AM PDT by skeeter
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To: The Other Harry
If anything, its a distarction right now (and needed)...Jonah's columns are usually "catty".It's the way he approaches every topic (even bombing Africa)
34 posted on 10/03/2001 11:54:04 AM PDT by francisandbeans
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To: white rose
I didn't like the column, I think NRO has every right to fire her if they so choose. Having said that, I like Ann and will continue to enjoy her entertainment. I do think that something is going on in her life, she seems to be about to have a nervous break-down. I hope I am wrong about her mental state, if not I hope she starts feeling better.
35 posted on 10/03/2001 11:54:32 AM PDT by The Vast Right Wing
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To: BamaG
Now is the time for unity. They should be discussing this after all this is over. Her column was somewhat of a rant. I too think Ann went a bit far with her comments. The $5 thing was also too much. No one in their right minds believes that. This is becoming a blood feud.
36 posted on 10/03/2001 11:54:39 AM PDT by TKEman
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To: BamaG, Jonah Goldberg
Nice series of ad hominems Jonah.
37 posted on 10/03/2001 11:54:47 AM PDT by Andrew Byler
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To: Illbay
It wouldn't surprise me to learn that Ann lost a friend in the WTC or the Pentagon.

She did, Barbara Olson was on the plane that crashed into the Pentagon; they were friends.

38 posted on 10/03/2001 11:55:00 AM PDT by NeoCaveman
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To: BamaG
What an amazingly prissy letter...

Jonah G. needed to do better than this.

39 posted on 10/03/2001 11:55:03 AM PDT by father_elijah
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To: BamaG
"Apparently, in Ann's mind, she constitutes the thin blonde line between freedom and tyranny"

Is this Jonah Goldberg's idea of good "professional" writing?

40 posted on 10/03/2001 11:55:14 AM PDT by Born to Conserve
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To: BamaG
Jonah Goldberg had the good manners to reply to my e-mail personally.
While not going into details, he hinted at the above reasoning.
More then likely I will renew my subscription, while also praying for Ann.
Perhaps there is some spiritual warfare going on that she needs help with, and only God has that remedy.
41 posted on 10/03/2001 11:56:17 AM PDT by Psalm 73
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To: BamaG
This is more of the same old self important conservative politics as usual. There are thousands of bright well informed people in this country who's opinions are just as valuable as Coulter's or Goldberg's. These people do not report news, they give their opinions on it, and for that they are elevated to a super star status complete with groupies. These cat fights are boring, and consume way to much time, and should be part of new class of topic on FR known as "conservative tabloidism."
42 posted on 10/03/2001 11:56:53 AM PDT by 101viking
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To: father_elijah
Come on....asking Jonah to write serioulsy is like asking a cat to knit a sweater.

Yeah, he'll bat the yarn around a bit, but in the end it just ends up being a big tangled mess.

43 posted on 10/03/2001 11:57:44 AM PDT by francisandbeans
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To: The Other Harry
They'll be getting more than what they're paying for, I'm sure."

A compliment? I think so and a pretty civil way to end the piece.

44 posted on 10/03/2001 11:57:50 AM PDT by KayEyeDoubleDee
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To: Jim Robinson
I'm not touching that one.
45 posted on 10/03/2001 12:00:25 PM PDT by Bikers4Bush
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To: BamaG
It's no surprise to hear a thinking conservative say "The problem with Ann's first column was its sloppiness of expression and thought." What's surprising is how fiercely some Freepers resist acknowledging the fact. Some of the things I've seen posted in defence of Ann on FR call to mind the NRO's comment that "Coulter wrote a long, rambling rant of a response to her critics that was barely coherent." Other things I've seen posted call to mind NRO's comment that "Listening to Ann legalistically dodge around trying to explain all this would have made Bill Clinton blush." Mabye Ann's incoherence and inability to distinguish between emoting and thinking are acceptable to some. But my guess is that it's not so much a matter of it being acceptable as it being unrecognizable. YMMV.
46 posted on 10/03/2001 12:00:28 PM PDT by ConsistentLibertarian
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Comment #47 Removed by Moderator

To: BamaG
Ann wins with me.

Jonah Goldberg has some nerve to criticize Coulter as a writer. His columns are self-indulgent and dull, and I have given him too many chances already. I start to read his column, and he rambles about his personal life -- rambling just doesn't do it for me. He can't seem to make a strong point, or, when he does, he loses the reader after paragraph one, so what he says in paragraphs five and six don't matter.

Goldberg always seems to forget one of the paramount rules of a good writer:

"Just because it happened to you, doesn't make it interesting."

Coulter, on the other hand, focuses outwards in her writing, very seldom on herself. She may have flown off the handle recently, but she has written way too much great material to "write her off" like Goldberg did.

She doesn't need Goldberg, anyway. She will always have an audience, and anyone who picks up her column will do well.

48 posted on 10/03/2001 12:00:54 PM PDT by Silly
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To: TLBSHOW
So, does this remove for you your ban on NR? Or will you keep up the fight? Let us know.
49 posted on 10/03/2001 12:01:01 PM PDT by TKEman
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To: BamaG
To girly-boy Goldberg -- what about your proposal to invade, conquer and bring "civilization" to Africa?

Damn you, you girly-boy hypocrit. I will never again purchase National Review so long as you remain affiliated with it, and I am a former subscriber!

50 posted on 10/03/2001 12:02:59 PM PDT by Jay W
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