By: Dave Astor
Universal Press Syndicate confirms that Ann Coulter’s description of fellow columnist Helen Thomas as an “old Arab” was not in the Feb. 23 Coulter piece it sent to newspapers. And Universal isn’t even sure the phrase appeared in the version Coulter submitted to the syndicate.
The “old Arab” reference did appear in the version of the column posted on Coulter’s Web site.
Kathie Kerr, director of communications at Universal, said the syndicate is trying to determine what was in the Feb. 23 column Coulter transmitted to Universal. “We don’t know if the word was sent in and Greg edited it out or if it was never sent to us to begin with,” she told E&P, referring to Greg Melvin, Coulter’s editor at Universal. Kerr said the syndicate has been unable to reach Melvin (who’s on vacation) or Coulter.
The Coulter Web site version of the Feb. 23 column, which focused on controversial ex-White House reporter James Guckert (a.k.a. Jeff Gannon), reads: “Press passes can’t be that hard to come by if the White House allows that old Arab Helen Thomas to sit within yards of the president.” In the version posted on Universal’s site, the subject of Coulter’s words is instead described as “dyspeptic, old Helen Thomas.”
Thomas, whose Hearst column is distributed by King Features Syndicate, is of Lebanese descent. The former United Press International reporter has been a journalist for nearly 60 years, and has covered every president since John F. Kennedy. She was the first female president of the White House Correspondents Association.
Neither Thomas nor Coulter could be reached for comment today by E&P.