A chill wind is blowing -- from the mainstream media. Desperate to break President George W. Bush and the resurgence of American conservatism, the mainstream media has taken to obscuring truths, burying facts and overplaying accusations. Conservative pundits are grudgingly tolerated as token representatives of an extremist ideology, but only if they keep within certain bounds. If they get too uppity, it's time to slap them down.
The latest case in point: USA Today commissioned conservative pundit Ann Coulter to write a daily column on the Democratic National Convention. For those who don't know, Coulter is a three-time best-selling author, a political pundit extraordinaire and a constant media presence. She's brilliant and caustic -- very caustic. Her sharp pen is her trademark, tattooing leftists continuously.
So USA Today editors should have known what they were getting into when they signed her up, unless they were suffering from a Ted Kennedy-esque hangover. Instead, USA Today got all huffy when Coulter sent in a scathing piece about the DNC on Sunday night, July 25, titled "Put the Speakers in a Cage." The opening line: "Here at the Spawn of Satan convention in Boston, conservatives are deploying a series of covert signals to identify one another, much like gay men do." Coulter notes that "Apparently, the nuts at the Democratic National Convention are going to be put in cages outside the convention hall. Sadly, they won't be fighting to the death as is done in W.W.F. caged matches." It's harsh, hilarious, gutsy stuff, but that's Ann Coulter's style.
USA Today chiefs didn't see it that way. They decided not to run Coulter's column, telling her that it was "unusable" and "not funny." As Coulter told Matt Drudge of the Drudge Report, "Apparently, no one at USA Today had ever read Ann Coulter before."
"I can't believe I keep falling for it," Coulter told me from New York on Monday morning. "They will not publish a conservative. ... If they don't think I'm a good writer, maybe they shouldn't have asked me write for them. Apparently, they thought they were hiring (romance novelist) Catherine Coulter."
Meanwhile, left-wing venom-fanged author and filmmaker Michael Moore will wander around the DNC, gathering publicity for his sham flick "Fahrenheit 9/11." Then, he'll end up at the Republican National Convention at the behest of -- you guessed it -- USA Today, which is planning to carry columns from the fat, vitriolic college dropout.
A representative of USA Today told Drudge, "Coulter has been hired for Boston, Moore has been hired for NY." I'm willing to give odds on the chances that Michael Moore's sure-to-be hysterics-ridden columns will end up, unedited, in the pages of USA Today. But that's media balance for you: Hire both; censor the conservative. Or replace the conservative, as the case may be -- trendy National Review columnist Jonah Goldberg will take over Coulter's slot.
Of course, this shouldn't be a shocker. The mainstream media fawns over liberals while it either ignores conservative talking points or rips conservative figures. Joe Wilson had no trouble getting mainstream media attention for his book. But the mainstream media curiously overlooked or buried later revelations that many of Wilson's statements about the intelligence leading up to the war in Iraq were false.
Meanwhile, when Clinton National Security Adviser Sandy Berger sneaked out of the National Archives with classified documents "accidentally" jammed down his pants ("I did not have sex with those documents!"), the mainstream media largely shrugged. The New York Times editorial board turned Berger's version of natural male enhancement into some sort of rip on the Republicans by once again raising the specter of the lying martyr, Joe Wilson: "the Republican hyperventilating is overdone. The same congressional leaders who shrugged at the leaking of a CIA agent's identity to punish her husband, a critic of administration policy, demand hearings on Mr. Berger. ... Of real concern is that bleeding, yet again, of politics into criminal justice."
Surprisingly, the only liberal figure who has received any criticism of late is Bill Clinton. While giving his book, "My Life," virtually unlimited exposure and trumpeting his book sales, the media largely panned the book. If he had shoved it down his pants, maybe The New York Times would have endorsed it or at least blamed Republicans for its low quality.
While Clinton and Wilson are willing to lie for publicity, Coulter isn't. She flew back to New York as soon as she heard the higher-ups at USA Today complaining about her work. "They wouldn't publish my first column, so I left town. ... They think they can use my byline to write their column," Coulter says. "My byline isn't for sale."