Ann Coulter smiled brightly and thanked Matt Lauer for welcoming her to the TODAY show. Lauer smiled back, thanked her for coming, and told the caustic conservative commentator that reports of her being banned by NBC were untrue.
“I’m glad you’re back,” the TODAY co-host told Coulter.
“So am I,” she replied with a smile.
“You’re not banned for life,” Lauer added.
“I’m delighted to hear that,” Coulter said.
Coulter, a frequent critic of the mainstream media — including NBC — had originally been scheduled to appear Tuesday on TODAY to discuss her latest book, “Guilty: Liberal ‘Victims’ and Their Assault on America.” When the interview was canceled, Matt Drudge headlined a story on his Web site proclaiming that NBC had banned Coulter for life for her controversial views.
Coulter fueled the fire in entries on her own Web site and in appearances on other news shows, going so far as to suggest that if she were invited back, she would cancel at the last minute to get back at NBC.
She was invited back later on Tuesday — eight hours after Drudge broke his story, she told Lauer.
Lauer told Coulter that the reason her segment was dropped Tuesday was to make way for a live report from Israel on the conflict in Gaza by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Coulter countered that TODAY could have given her a different time slot.
But if Coulter harbored any animosity, she didn’t show it. Even when she traded zingers with Lauer, with whom she once appeared on “The Greatest American,” a show on the Discovery Channel, she was all smiles.
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Lauer accused her of saying, “The mainstream media hates conservatives.”
“I didn’t say that,” Coulter said. She admitted that she agrees with the sentiment, “but I have much more colorful language.”
“We switched you for Tony Blair,” Lauer explained.
“The point is, I was canceled twice,” Coulter rejoined, referring to a second scheduled appearance on Tuesday with Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford in the show’s fourth hour that was also dropped. (On Wednesday, Coulter did make a second TODAY appearance with Kotb and Gifford, using the time to expand on her earlier discussion with Lauer.)
“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean you don’t have enemies,” Lauer quipped with a smile.
‘B. Hussein’ Obama
Coulter kept trying to turn the discussion to her book , which has ignited familiar firestorms in both the conservative and liberal camps. A master at touching raw nerves and making over-the-top statements, Coulter has been accused of making at least 12 false statements in the book by Media Matters, an independent media watchdog group. She insists that she is right on all issues.
She refers to President-elect Barack Obama as “B. Hussein Obama” throughout the book and repeated the usage on air with Lauer. Critics say she’s playing to the false belief among some conservatives that Obama is a Muslim.
“It’s not untrue that’s what his middle name is,” she said with a smile. “It’s insane to act as if using someone’s middle name is some sort of vicious hate crime.”
But the part of the book that has raised the most controversy is Coulter’s contention that single mothers portray themselves as victims when in fact they are the cause of most societal problems.
She told Lauer, “We know that children raised without fathers are filling up the prisons,” and accused the mainstream media and Hollywood of glorifying single mothers instead of condemning them.
Lauer said that Coulter’s critics accuse her of blunting her own points with sweeping generalizations and language dripping with venom, prompting outrage rather than thought. As an example, he took her statement that almost all of the problems in American society are due to children born to single mothers.
“That’s not outrageous, that’s a fact,” Coulter replied. “What I said is absolutely true. Any societal problem is the result of single motherhood.”
Tone a turnoff?
When Coulter revisited TODAY later on Wednesday, Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford revisited the issue of the tone the author employs. Kotb referred to comments Coulter made in an earlier book, “Godless,” that were critical of some of a group of New Jersey women who were widowed in the attacks of Sept. 11.
Video: Coulter: Liberals ‘don’t like the nuclear family’ Coulter wrote then: “These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis ... These self-obsessed women seemed genuinely unaware that 9/11 was an attack on our nation and acted as if the terrorist attacks happened only to them ... I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much ...”
“Those kinds of words are just a turnoff,” Kotb said Wednesday.
“I don’t think so. ‘Godless’ is my best-selling book so far,” Coulter replied. She also said that other Sept. 11 widows supported her: “A lot of them, and they were with me on those Jersey girls,” she said.
Coulter characterized people who focus on her tone rather than her message as “chaste Victorians.”
At the end of her first interview of the day, Lauer asked Coulter for her thoughts on George Bush’s leaving the White House.
“I’m grateful to him for keeping the nation safe for the last eight years,” she said. “We’ll see if that continues.”
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