Accuracy in Media

One of the most interesting reactions I got to my column on Ann Coulter’s vicious personal attack on the New Jersey 9/11 widows was, “Why does Ann need ‘evidence’ for her opinion? The left doesn’t need ‘evidence’ for making ridiculous claims against the president of the United States in the media.” 

So if they can make false charges, why can’t we? 

Coulter charged, without a sliver of evidence, that the widows enjoyed their husbands’ deaths. Such a charge, as Coulter knows, being a lawyer, is not only false but defamatory. The widows probably won’t sue because Coulter would use the controversy to sell more of her books. 

Curiously, a good conservative writer, Alan Caruba, devoted an entire column to defending Coulter, saying that initial press reports neglected to mention “what Coulter actually wrote.” But he was guilty of never mentioning her most sensational charge?that the widows were “enjoying” their husbands’ deaths. 

This has been typical of many messages I received in Coulter’s defense. They didn’t want to quote what she actually wrote or said, and instead interpreted her comments to make them sound somewhat more reasonable. Still others griped that the liberal media attacked Coulter for her comments but never raise a stink when liberals make hateful or wild statements. That’s the double standard that conservatives have always been subjected to. 

But it’s not playing into the hands of liberals for conservatives to hold conservatives to a high standard. It’s gratifying to note that conservative MSNBC host Joe Scarborough asked, “?is it not true that if conservatives don’t come out and condemn Ann Coulter for making these type of statements, they’re guilty of the same?the same offenses that Democrats were guilty of with Michael Moore?” He was referring to how leading liberal Democrats refused to condemn Moore’s anti-American film “Fahrenheit 9/11.” 

A guest, conservative talk-show host Michael Smerconish, responded, “I think you’re absolutely correct. And in my own small corner of the world, I’ve attempted to put Republicans, conservatives in particular, on record about her.” Every conservative Republican politician he contacted, including Senator Rick Santorum and Rep. Curt Weldon, condemned Coulter’s remarks. 

Over on Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News program, Bernard Goldberg said he agreed with some of Coulter’s points but that she “goes 22 miles over the line” and “hurts her team.”  O’Reilly also strongly criticized Coulter’s comments.

The problem with Goldberg, who is not a conservative but emerged as a major critic of liberal media bias, is that he has gone over the line as well, referring in his recent book to Judge Roy Moore as someone who “screwed up America” because he argued that the federal courts had no constitutional or legal authority to order a Ten Commandments monument out of his Alabama courthouse. 

It’s one thing to say Moore was wrong, but to accuse him of “screwing up America?” 

The “team” should be the truth, not a conservative or liberal cause. At Accuracy in Media, we learned from our founder Reed Irvine that the truth should be pursued no matter where it leads. He stepped on conservative and liberal toes when it was necessary.

The question that must be asked, regardless of whether the allegation is made by Coulter, Goldberg, or anyone else, is whether there is any evidence for the claim. There is none in Coulter’s case, and perhaps she never intended for there to be any. 

Coulter has repeated many of her vicious personal statements about the widows in a subsequent column, once again calling them “witches” and “harpies.” All of this stems from their vocal criticism of President Bush. 

I don’t agree with the political points made by these particular widows, but I do happen to agree with the families of the victims of Pan Am 103, who are speaking out against President Bush’s new policy on Libya. They took out an ad in the June 22 Washington Post calling Bush’s decision to take Libya off the list of state sponsors of terrorism a “betrayal” of murdered Americans.   

I worked with those families in the past and wrote several reports and articles about the Pan Am 103 case. There is no doubt that Libya’s lunatic ruler Moammar Gadhafi was responsible for the Pan Am bombing that killed 189 Americans, many of them college students. Yet the Bush Administration is not seeking his extradition on mass murder charges. In fact, the Bush Administration is not seeking any charges against Gadhafi over this terrorist act. Gadhafi is still in power and still a dictator. But he has given up his weapons of mass destruction programs, and that apparently gets him off the hook for killing Americans in cold blood. 

I have heard Daniel and Susan Cohen, who lost their only child in the bombing, complain vociferously about the policies toward Libya of the Clinton and Bush Administrations. I never gave it a thought that they somehow “enjoyed” the death of their daughter, Theodora, because it resulted in them getting media attention for their views. Who could think such a thing? What does it take to put such an evil connotation on what motivates our fellow Americans when they suffer the effects of international terrorism? 

If you could talk to the families of victims of terrorism and even begin to sense their pain and suffering, you would understand that there is absolutely no enjoyment in losing a daughter, a son, parent or relative to terrorist fanatics. Families of the victims sometimes engage in political or social activism not because they enjoy the limelight but because they are seeking some form of justice for what happened to them and their loved ones. We should encourage the families of victims of terrorism to speak out, even if we disagree with what they say. 

But Ann Coulter decided that the 9/11 widows from New Jersey were enjoying the deaths of their husbands because they were getting media attention for their views and had campaigned against President Bush. 

If she really believes this, she is completely out of touch with real-life human beings and the reality of what terrorism does to people. If she doesn’t believe it and made the charge only to create controversy and sell books, then she is devoid of a conscience. 

I don’t know which is worse. But I do know that human decency requires that we criticize and condemn this hateful rhetoric.

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