Monday, April 18, 2005

Kurtz punts on Coulter

Really, this is just too much. Anyone who is still struggling to understand what our media culture has come to should read these comments by Howard Kurtz in today's Media Backtalk chat. It really is stunning and sad.

Miami Shores, Fla.: Howie, thanks for taking the time to conduct these chats. The Time cover story on Ann Coulter was revolting. Though I concede some of her more outrageously offensive statements are tongue-in-cheek, the "steak" behind that sizzle is just as hostile, mean-spirited, offensive, and just plain loopy. She should be vilified by the elite media, not celebrated, and this has everything to do with her linguistic style and irresponsible commentary, and nothing to do with her politics (which appear to be a put-on and strike me as totally insincere anyway). What say you?

Howard Kurtz: Well, I'm going to wait until I read the story. While splashing her on the cover is obviously an editorial statement (and marketing decision), cover stories can also be tough on their subjects. And since Coulter is very popular with what might be called her "base" and reviled by people on the other side, she carries the requisite degree of controversy. (She's also gotten into fights with conservatives, as I recall, such as when National Review dropped her as a contributing editor and she called Editor Rich Lowry and his deputies "girly boys."

And earlier?
Washington, D.C.: Howard - I've been hearing of late an awful lot of wailing from journalists who feel they no longer are respected or trusted. Here's one example why that may be. When I was in school back in the 1960s, my history teacher had a huge bulletin board on which every week he'd tack up the cover of each new TIME Magazine. In that era, TIME's covers always were a single portrait of a national or world leader who had been in the news. My class would actually devote a lesson to that leader and his country. Fast forward to the 21st century and this week's TIME cover story - of all people, the ring-wing gadfly and propagandist Ann Coulter who has become famous not for a serious achievement or contribution to society but for invective and slander. Of all the world's pressing problems, Ann Coulter is the most important story that TIME could find? Howard, do you and you colleagues understand that news judgment like this is what is eroding journalism's credibility?

Howard Kurtz: I haven't read the piece yet--it seems to me she was hotter about two years ago than she is now--but the media world has changed vastly since your school days. The newsmags are as likely to put health or trend stories or a new movie on their cover as anything having to do with world leaders. This week, for example, Newsweek's cover is "Your Family & Your Health" and U.S. News goes with "The CSI Effect." Coulter may or may not be a smart cover subject, but the media as a whole are far more into soft news, celebrities and sensationalism.

"I haven't read the piece..." ;"Well, I'm going to wait until I read the story..." Note to Mr. Kurtz: What would be in that Time article that might change the way you think of her? That she cares for sick, vagrant puppies? That she once jumped into a burning building to save an elderly invalid? Hey, I hear Pol Pot was a great father. It just happens to be irrelevant! When she says that she hopes that journalists in Iraq get killed, that all Democrats are traitors and that Timothy McVeigh should have run his truck into The Times building, it is not something that needs further reflection and thought. It is demented. The frothy spittle emanating from her lips is the product of a truly sick mind, destroying our discourse and the so-called 'media critcs' should have the integrity to call it as such.

And for a one-stop shopping mall for al your Ann Coulter needs? Right here.

UPDATE: One last thing -- I don't give two hoots if people claim it's all an "act." You know, that, despite her on-air, print and web persona, she's really just a charming girl. In fact, thinking about it, that would be much worse.

Permalink posted by Jonathan : 2:17 PM

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