Column: Coultergeist: Media hype and

By Eric Naing

Devil’s Day 6/6/06 came and went without any signs of the Apocalypse, except for the release of conservative pundit Ann Coulter’s new book “Godless: The Church of Liberalism.” While the media goes crazy over the latest outrageous thing Coulter has to say, all she has to do is sit back get exactly what she wants: free publicity.

Referring to a group of women who lost their husbands in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Coulter writes in her book, “I’ve never seen people enjoying their husband’s death so much.” Reaction to this has run the gamut from total support to vicious condemnation.

In my less mature days, I would be so blinded by my hatred of Coulter that I would have skipped the substance of her words and attacked her personally. “She’s a female Skeletor!” I would shout or, “She could harpoon a whale with those elbows!” or even, “Just stay awake, she can only kill you in your dreams!” But now I realize that’s exactly what Coulter wants. Any press is good press, I suppose.

The conservative book world can be a gold mine for anyone who knows how to stir up publicity. All you need in order to have a best seller is a catchy title, a dramatic word or phrase followed by a colon and then a subtitle explaining how liberals are out to get you.

Take for example Ramesh Ponnuru’s “The Party of Death: The Democrats, the Media, the Courts, and the Disregard for Human Life,” Michelle Malkin’s “Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild” and of course Chesterfield McTaxCut’s “Democrats Eat Babies: How Liberals Want to Force You to Marry a Homosexual and Listen to Air America Radio.” Where Coulter smartly takes things further is that she says something so outrageous that the media goes into a frenzy, thus garnering tons of free advertising.

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    Blogger Andrew Sullivan notes on his Time Magazine blog that “On the lecture circuit, I have heard many stories in Coulter’s wake of her actual charm, nervousness, politeness, civility, reasonableness in person.” A reader of the blog who met Coulter further notes that “her television personality is exaggerated and largely manufactured, and that she doesn’t believe many of the ludicrous things she says. She’s not a radical of any sort, she’s just a conniving businesswoman.” If Ann Coulter actually believes what she says, then she is a monster. And if she doesn’t, she is a monster who profits off the tragedy of others.

    In her now-infamous “we should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity” column, Coulter said of her friend who died in the Pentagon attack, “those responsible include anyone anywhere in the world who smiled in response to the annihilation of patriots like Barbara Olson.” I wonder how much Ann will smile when her book inevitably hits the best seller list.

    Like in that episode of “The Simpsons” where advertisements magically come to life and terrorize everybody, the way to deal with sensationalists like Coulter is to ignore them.