Ann Coulter, one of the more toxic conservative voices in American punditry, is a cover girl for Time magaine. Salon’s Eric Bohlert offers his thoughts.
An excerpt: (free with a ‘day pass’)
When Time magazine named Ann Coulter among its 100 “most influential people” last week, alongside such heavyweights as Ariel Sharon, Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela, Kim Jong Il and the Dalai Lama, the choice produced guffaws online. Plugging the issue on Fox News last week, Time executive editor Priscilla Painton insisted it was Coulter’s use of “humor” that made her so influential, stopping just short of suggesting that Coulter is the conservative Jon Stewart. But even Fox’s Bill O’Reilly wasn’t buying it. He pressed Painton: “Do you think people, Americans, listen to Ann Coulter? Do you think she has influence in public opinion?”
At least now we know where Time magazine was going with its choice. Turns out Coulter’s inclusion was just a warm-up — a justification — for this week’s fawning Time cover story, “Ms. Right.” Polemicist pundits like Coulter purposefully drive political discourse into the ground, making a cushy, albeit factually challenged career out of labeling Democrats America-hating traitors. Time magazine stands on the sidelines and cheers, confident it has, for at least another week, placated conservative critics who demand proof that media outlets don’t lean left. (And even that didn’t work.)
Coming, as Wonkette.com noted, “seven years late,” Time‘s Coulter push feels overly contrived. Her latest book is a five-month-old clip job of recycled columns. She has no full-time, high-profile media platform. Instead, she crisscrosses the country collecting $30,000 speaking-fee checks and shows up on late-night cable talk shows that are watched by the thousands.
The Time profile rings hollow right from the cover blurb: “Fair and balanced she ain’t. This conservative flame-thrower enrages the left and delights the right.” Time plays dumb, though, failing to note that Coulter has been abandoned by the conservative press, with the National Review dismissing her as “barely coherent” and a Weekly Standard writer, reviewing Coulter’s “Liberal Lies About the American Right” for the Washington Post, describing her book as “a piece of political hackwork.”