SLANDER. Ann Coulter is GREAT at It.

Jun 26, 2002 (Updated Jun 26, 2002)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:eventually it will come out in paperback and it will be cheaper

Cons:Poorly researched, rehashed material. Coulter spends more time liberal-bashing than proving her points.

The Bottom Line: Coulter's book is a lazy, poorly-researched rant that will probably sell plenty of copies because it's hip to b*tch, even,and especially, if you can't back it up.


"Conservative books are vastly more popular with book consumers(p.97)" writes Ann Coulter in her recent book, Slander: Liberal Lies about the American Right, the most recent one to jump on the liberals-control-the-media-and-thus-control-the-minds-of-the-American-public bandwagon. This explains why Coulter decided to write yet another book about the supposed liberal bias of the mainstream media. After all, Bernard Goldberg's Bias did so well.

Coulter obviously didn't write this book to shed any new insight on the political leanings of our nation's most prominent news journalists. If insight was what she was after, she would've spent the time researching her thesis rather than making broad, silly generalizations about the left from "Liberals hate society and want to bring it down (p. 27)" to "Democrats actually hate working-class people"(p. 31).

Coulter's book is a lazy, poorly-researched rant that will probably sell plenty of copies because it's hip to b*tch, even,and especially, if you can't back it up.

For the most part, Coulter only references newspaper articles from the New York Times,though on occasion she mentions the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, USA Today(commonly referred to as "McNews"), and the Las Vegas Review Journal. Coulter rarely quotes anything from the fringe press, from the truly liberal publications such as Mother Jones and The Nation. Perhaps if Coulter had read both magazines a little more she would've come across Carlin Romano's denouncement of Michael Moore's bestseller Stupid White Men ("centrifugally one-sided") in The Nation (on a side note, Coulter has the nerve to say "The Left reveres (Michael) Moore (p.32)")or Todd Gitlin's denouncement of the extreme left's tendency to blame-America-first ("In the wake of September 11 there erupted something more primal and reflexive than criticism: a kind of left-wing fundamentalism, a negative faith in America the ugly.") in Mother Jones.

But instead of pointing her readers, conservative and liberal, to progressive publications that happen to be better researched despite being under-funded, Coulter gives us a short list of visually prominent reporters and the names of Democratic politicians they, in some way, worked for. Tim Russert, Katie Couric, Brian Williams, Maria Shriver. This revelation might mean something if creating a newscast, whether nightly or weekly, was up to the anchorperson alone. But, as we've seen with the trouble Bill Maher got into for speaking off-the-cuff, journalists and political commentators (the line between the two has become so muddied I wonder if it exists anywhere outside of J-school) have to worry about their advertisers and whether Jane Q. in Tulsa,OK, will call for a boycott of Hardees because they sponsored Dateline, and something on tonight's show really rubbed Ms. Q wrong.

Coulter's book is all over the place. Maybe this explains why her points are so poorly-researched. In her attack on journalist Barbara Ehrenreich, author of the recent Nickel and Dimed , Coulter has the nerve to write, "Ehrenreich gives two thumbs up to 'The Communist Manifesto'('100 million massacred!')(p. 2)." Nevermind that Ehrenreich's column, which appeared in the April 30, 1998 issue of Salon, called the Communism that flourished under Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union "something superficially resembling the manifesto's prescription". Nevermind that Ehrenreich's piece was really commenting on the irony of the plan by "the leftish British press Verso" to re-issue an "upscale version" of The Communist Manifesto on the book's 150th anniversary. Nevermind that, as Second Amendment proponents like to say, people kill people; guns, or in this case, ideological tracts, do not.

Sometimes Coulter's points aren't just indolently researched, they're way out of touch with reality. Most laughably is her diatribe against feminism. She quotes a Barbara Walters special where the journalist stated that, without feminism, the world today would be different (she's right. Without feminism, Ann Coulter might not be where she is now.). But Coulter says "Today TV tells us that true fulfillment is abortion, lesbianism, and prostitution (p. 39)." Now, I don't watch as much television as I once did, but I don't remember reading anything about a sitcom featuring four wacky lesbian prostitutes working in an abortion clinic. Coulter abandons her point about the television industry and jumps into the movie business and lists a bunch of actresses who were nominated for an Oscar for playing prostitutes. Apparently, the complexities of the roles involved for Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver, Elizabeth Shue in Leaving Las Vegas, and Sharon Stone in Casino don't matter to Coulter. All that matters is the three of them played hookers.

The grossly-off-her-rocker Coulter goes on to lament the state of female heroes in post-Steinem America. "In the bright, new feminized Hollywood, the female divas are Britney Spears, Madonna, Pamela Andersen, Elizabeth Hurley, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Jenny McCarthy(p. 40)" This explains why Sheryl Crow, a veteran of Lilith Fair, a feminist rock concert, lamented on her recent album C'mon C'mon, that "all our pop stars look like porn (Steve McQueen)." Because Britney Spears and Co. are our supposed feminist role models. Madonna hasn't done anything remotely provocative in the past few years except have two kids after the age of 40, five years after a woman is supposedly more likely to die in a plane crash than get knocked up. Most feminists either loathe or pity Pamela Andersen. Elizabeth Hurley is just a so-so actress with a pretty face, nothing special as far as the fight for women's rights is concerned. Sarah Jessica Parker simply plays a single gal in New York, but in real life, she's married and she's about to have a child. And Jenny McCarthy? She hasn't mattered since 1995.

But Coulter is right when she says "Whatever feminism is alleged to have accomplished, it did not create a world in which women are admired for something other than playing or being sluts (p. 40)". Sex sells, and not even Gloria Steinem can stop that.

Coulter spends the latter half of the book touting the Fox News Channel and patting herself and other conservative-authors for getting on the New York Times Bestseller list.
She spends some of the book talking about the stale Packwood diaries, but not about much more.

But, if Coulter's laziness and penchant for generalizations don't convince you of this book's uselessness, then perhaps her criticism of Walter Cronkite's criticism of Jerry Falwell's post-September 11th statement: "I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'" will.

Does that really require any explanation?

What's the point of teaching our children how to write a research paper when authors like Ann Coulter can get away with producing such a lazy piece of half-assed crap? Why emphasize objectivity in J-school when it obviously doesn't sell? Why praise originality when all you have to do to get published, it seems, is to ride the coattails of a trend?

Slander should not be taken seriously by conservatives or liberals. The only thing it should be used for is teaching students the bitter truth about publishing: diligent researchers who will work to intelligently present both sides need not apply.





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