The recent flap over the offensive language Ann Coulter used in a speech to a Republican group (specifically the Conservative Political Action Conference or CPAC) highlights once again just how goofed up the world of news and reporting in the media is. I think the media has got her story wrong from the get go. The problem is they actually take her seriously, that's the mistake. I must admit, I used to get pretty wound up about the obnoxious things this woman says. She's so black and white, so extreme, so mis-informed, that I struggled to deal with her, she was just that offensive. When I listen to John McCain or Mitt Romney I may not agree with all they say, but there is much I do agree with. Not so with Ann, she just seemed so darn unreasonable.
Watching the video of her calling John Edwards a "faggot" I had a flash of insight which explains it all for me. The insight: she's not a serious political commentator at all, she's a comedian. Okay, she's not very funny but she's doing what most blue comics do, they use language to shock and surprise. Shock and surprise is what Ann Coulter needs to remain a media figure and get her desired end result -- selling books and more speeches. I must admit this is a very creative woman, she has a strategy, she sticks to it, and it works.
Does Ann Coulter really believe the wacky things she says? Only her hair dresser knows for sure. Given the conviction with which she tells her stories I'd have to guess she is not play acting very much. Her inability to see gray areas serves her comedic persona, it shows her in sharp relief. As soon as Ann starts being reasonable she's not a story anymore. I do know that when she makes a comment like the John Edwards one it is in fact a straight ahead joke. The only difference between her and Jon Stewart and Bill Maher is her political persuasion. Her genius -- I get it now -- is she's found the comic-on-the-far-right niche and not even told anybody she's a comic.
Once we start viewing Ann as a comedian we can really enjoy her, we can celebrate her free speech and not cringe. I'm really looking forward to her next appearance on Hardball! If we could only convince her to go another level over the top it would be clear to everyone.