Ann Slanders or Ann Slandered?
When it comes to Ann Coulter -- columnist and best-selling author of Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right -- it depends on your perspective.
After the State College, Pa., Centre Daily Times dropped the conservative Coulter last week, more than 95% of the 4,000-plus e-mails it received supported the cancellation, according to Executive Editor Bob Unger.
"Maybe this is a hopeful sign that people are getting sick of extremists that pander to the worst in us," Unger told E&P Online.
But Coulter also has many fans among editors and readers. Six papers joined Coulter's list of more than 60 clients since Slander was published, said Universal Press Syndicate Director of Communications Kathie Kerr, adding that the Centre Daily Times is the only paper she knows to recently cancel the three-year Universal columnist.
And when an E&P Online story about the Centre Daily Times' action ran last week, 36 e-mails backing Coulter and only four backing the paper arrived in a day. Several called the 95%-plus figure "a lie," but Unger said it's accurate.
The e-mails to E&P Online ranged from nasty ("you socialist pig") to earnest. "I love Ann Coulter," one man wrote. "I can't get enough of her. I only wish my local paper would carry her column and that I didn't have to look for it on the Internet every week."
A Brooklyn, N.Y., man wrote: "This was an attack on a popular conservative pundit because she is holding the irons to the feet of the liberal hypocrites and they can't get the best of her any other way than to hold her to a different standard than their own."
But Creators Syndicate media columnist Norman Solomon feels conservative columnists usually fare better than liberal ones. "The opinion-page terrain has a baseline from the mild left to the far right," he said, adding that an exception such as Molly Ivins offers "a spoonful of witty sugar to help the left medicine go down."
As for the progressive Solomon? "My column has been canceled out of some of the reputedly best newspapers in the country," he said.
Coulter: Liberals Are 'No Good'
The Coulter column angering the Centre Daily Times said Republicans are nicer than they should be to liberals. "I will say that there is only one thing wrong with liberals: they're no good," she wrote, later calling the Kennedys "a family of heroin addicts, statutory rapists, convicted and unconvicted female-killers, cheaters, bootleggers, and dissolute drunks."
Unger responded in a column addressed to Coulter: "You're fired. ... You are either a hater or a hypocrite who calls names and spews enmity because you believe it will get your pretty face on television more or sell more copies of your best-selling books. ... I'm not going to defend the Kennedy family or liberals. ... But, Ann, you're mean -- vicious, really -- which is why we do not believe that you in any way serve the public good."
One Michigan man wrote E&P Online: "What did Ms. Coulter say about the Kennedys that wasn't true and shouldn't have been said by any other legitimate journalist who wasn't a propagandist whore... ?"
Unger said his paper was also upset with a recent Coulter column about the "sexual history of some of [her] enemies -- i.e., private citizens who dared to give money to the Democrats."
The Centre Daily Times runs a mix of columnists, including Ivins and conservative Cal Thomas. Among its audience is a "pretty conservative readership outside of Penn State," said Unger, adding that the 4,000 e-mails were local, from all 50 states, and from 20 countries.
E&P Online e-mailed questions to Coulter, but she didn't respond as of Sept. 6.