Augusta Editor Explains Why He Dropped Coulter Column

By: Dave Astor and Greg Mitchell

The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle has become the second newspaper to drop Ann Coulter’s column this month, explaining that her “stridency” had crossed the line.

Coulter, of Universal Press Syndicate, is being replaced by another conservative columnist — Michelle Malkin of Creators Syndicate.

“We’re a conservative editorial page,” Chronicle Editorial Page Editor Michael Ryan told E&P today, noting that the paper also runs columnists such as Robert Novak, George Will, and Walter Williams along with liberal Ellen Goodman.

Ryan emphasized that the paper wouldn’t have dropped Coulter if she had made “one or two” controversial comments. “But it came to the point where she was the issue rather that what she was writing about,” he said, adding that Coulter’s reputation has become mixed even among conservatives.

He also observed that the situation was “becoming kind of a broken record” as Coulter constantly promoted her new book and took swipes at The New York Times. Plagiarism charges were not a factor, said Ryan, noting that those allegations haven’t been proved.

Ryan said he had received, as of this morning, only about 15-20 e-mails reacting to the Chronicle’s decision. Opinions have run about evenly pro- and anti-Coulter, the editor reported.

“Personally, I continue to be an Ann Coulter fan,” said Ryan. “I think her logic is devastating and her viewpoint is right most of the time.” He added that the Chronicle would even consider bringing Coulter back if she somehow “became less of a lightning rod.”

Universal declined to comment about the Chronicle’s decision.

The Gazette of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, also dropped Coulter this month. And The Times of Shreveport, La., is considering dropping her column as well.

“We haven’t made a decision yet,” said Times Editorial Page Editor Craig Durrett, but he told E&P today that the decision will probably be soon. In the meantime, about 500 people have e-mailed the Shreveport paper since Durrett announced July 2 that Coulter might be pulled. The majority of e-mailers from outside the Times’ circulation area are in favor of dropping Coulter, according to Durrett, while local e-mail reaction has been more “mixed.”

In dropping Coulter, the Chronicle published an explanation — attributed to the paper’s Editorial Staff — called “Correcting an Overbite.” It read: “We didn’t think twice about adding nationally syndicated columnist Ann Coulter to our editorial page lineup. We had to think long and hard about whether to keep her there.

“In the end, we’ve reluctantly decided Ms. Coulter’s incisive writing, laser-like perceptiveness, quick wit and devastating logic have been overshadowed, and that she has lost her effectiveness as a conservative standard-bearer.

“As of today, we’re opting to go with Michelle Malkin, one of the most articulate and exciting young conservative voices out there today.

“Ann Coulter has long been known for her acid tongue. But much of the hand-wringing by her critics has been, and still is, the result of the fact that she is ruthless in pointing out their hypocrisy and flawed thinking.

“But biting commentary is one thing. A personal attack is another — such as when she slammed several 9-11 widows for backing Democrats and allegedly milking the tragedy for political purposes. That charge alone isn’t necessarily unfair, but to suggest they were ‘enjoying’ their husbands’ deaths and calling them ‘witches’ — well, that’s where stridency crosses a line.

“Moreover, in the weeks since, Coulter herself had become the issue, rather than the topics she was writing about, which is an unhealthy circumstance for a journalist, even a columnist.

“This editorial page stands for many things, and we make no bones about it. But one of the things we stand for is civility. Pulling Ann Coulter’s column hurts; she’s one of the clearest thinkers around. But you’ve got to stand by your principles, even — especially — when it’s painful.”

The move has generated postings at the newspaper’s message forum. Here are a few:

–“As I have stated on another thread, the AC editorial staff has been cowed by the leftist MSM’s assault on Coulter. I WAS gong to re-subscribe, but that was in order to read Coulter’s column.”

–“On a Chronicle note, though, the editorial stance is overwhelmingly conservative. They even said in their Friday editorial that they still agree with what Coulter believes in. Lord knows they still espouse that philosophy in their editorials. So are they really bending to the will of advertisers or the unnamed, unspoken ‘powers that be’ by dropping Coulter? In reality, the editorial stance hasn’t budged an inch. They just traded up for a columnist (Michelle Malkin) who says it straight, without being overly hateful or self-aggrandizing (Ann Coulter). Even I was getting sick of Coulter promoting her latest book in her column week after week.”

–“Ann’s recent column regarding the 9/11 widows was a little over the top; however, commentary that stimulates controversy and thinking usually is. Instead of allowing the debate to continue, The Chronicle has pulled the column. Is this censorship or what? Come on, editors; we are all adults here. If you don’t like what Ann says, don’t read the column!”

***

Related E&P stories:

Columnist Ann Coulter Calls for Wiping Out All of South Lebanon.

Coulter Jokes to Reporter About Mailing White Powder to ‘NY Times’.

Universal Says It Doesn’t Think Coulter Plagiarized.

Mixed Reader Reaction to Shreveport Paper’s Possible Coulter Drop.

‘NY Post’ Cites Evidence That Ann Coulter Plagiarized Parts of Book, Columns.

Universal Executive Responds to ‘E&P’ Column on Ann Coulter.

Dave Astor: Enabling Ann Coulter.

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