Kaus and Coulter: What Gives?



How do you think Mickey Kaus had almost immediate access to a private email exchange between Ann Coulter and Adam Nagourney, the openly gay NYT reporter Kaus constantly berates? Read this item and ponder: what is Mickey trying to say? He cannot find a shred of evidence that Nagourney has been anything but fair and accurate in his story. But Mickey's throwing some suspicion around and wants to publish the full email that Coulter sent to Nagourney. The only conceivable point of this is to help Coulter get her full spin out there. But why would a writer already deemed homophobic by some go out of his way to defend a homophobic slur that even the right-wing blogs denounce?

Then you realize that Kaus has been defending Coulter for a very long time, an odd position for a neoliberal Democrat to take. He even defended her when she slandered Kaus's closest colleague, Bob Wright, last year. Here's the NYT story on this spat:

A few months ago Ann Coulter, the right-wing thunder bearer, declared on the Fox News program "Hannity & Colmes" that Democrats harbored "affection" for terrorists. She cited as evidence an Op-Ed article in The New York Times by the author and liberal pundit Robert Wright in which he explored Muslim outrage over cartoons in a Danish newspaper, saying he defended the violence that broke out as "justified."

To Mr. Wright, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, Ms. Coulter's assertion constituted an infuriating, willful mischaracterization. He turned for support to his friend, Mickey Kaus (whose blog, Kausfiles, appears on Slate), and did so on bloggingheads.tv, the online forum the two men created six months ago for video simulcast political discussions.

As it turned out, Mr. Kaus was reluctant to demonize Ms. Coulter, rejecting Mr. Wright's claim that any anatomization of her thinking would logically conclude that she was either (1) "dishonest" or (2) "stupid." Instead Mr. Kaus offered the counter-theory that she was a more or less sensible person whose zealotry often drove her to exaggerate.

This Mr. Wright could not abide. After noting that Mr. Kaus had been seen in Ms. Coulter's company, he went on to intimate that maybe, possibly, Mr. Kaus thought she was pretty, that perhaps he had a crush.

"I don't even think she's good looking," Mr. Wright said. "If you do, fine, but whatever set of motivations is leading you to defend her, I mean, I don't get it."

I don't get it either - but it's been going on for years. Back in 2002, Bob Somerby wrote a post wondering how on earth Kaus had run an item on a spat between Ann Coulter and Katie Couric, taken Coulter's side, and titled the post "Coulter 1, Couric 0". Somerby asked of Mickey:

Why did Coulter direct you to discuss that exchange?

Mickey, aware of the weirdness of the item, even asked himself in his self-referential style:

[Who fed this to you? Coulter?--ed. Senior officials in the Coulter camp. But it checked out.]

Kaus even defended Coulter's attack on the 9/11 widows:

Coulter's comments become much less shocking when read in context (Chapter 4 of Godless, criticizing the press canonization of four highly political, pro-Kerry 9/11 widows).

I could go on, but you can Google the rest. Of course, Mickey has every right to support Coulter, defend her comments, go gratuitously out of his way to present her version of events. But, a question about the Nagourney email:

Who fed this to you? Coulter?--ed.

(Photo: Ann Coulter and Bill O'Reilly for Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People event, by Evan Agostini/Getty.)

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