Was Ann Coulter Set Up By Matthews and Edwards to Advance Fairness Doctrine?

By now, most people in America have viewed the scene from Tuesday’s “Hardball” when Elizabeth Edwards, wife of presidential candidate John Edwards, called in to dress down Chris Matthews’ guest, conservative writer Ann Coulter.

In fact, the media are having a field day with this as reported by NewsBusters Tim Graham and Mark Finkelstein.

After seeing the coverage of this matter Wednesday morning, a revelation made at MSNBC’s “Hardblogger” emits a bit of a rodent aroma leading one to believe that this entire incident was set up not just to embarrass Coulter, but possibly to advance the current Democrat push to squash conservative talk radio (emphasis added):

According to an Edwards campaign aide, Elizabeth Edwards wanted to call into the show when she heard that Coulter would be taking questions, and she called a Hardball producer to get the phone number needed to dial into the show.

Isn’t that special? So, all of the people involved with “Hardball” were aware that this was going to occur, and nobody had the decency to apprise Coulter beforehand, and maybe even do the courteous thing and ask her if she would mind?

After all, Coulter was Matthews’ guest. Is this how you treat a guest, by springing the wife of a political candidate on her without any warning?

For instance, if in 2004, Matthews was interviewing the New York Times’ Maureen Dowd or Frank Rich, both harsh critics of the Bush administration, would he have considered for a second allowing Laura Bush to call in -- without warning and getting permission from his guests -- to chastize these liberal writers?

Or how about if Matthews was interviewing Keith Olbermann yesterday. Would he have taken a call from Judith Giuliani to protest the criticisms made by that MSNBC host towards America’s Mayor?

Not a chance, right? As such, Matthews' insulting behavior towards his guest was rather deplorable, and quite antithetic to journalistic decorum, unless something more nefarious was afoot.

With that in mind, look at the words Mrs. Edwards used. They seem rather scripted and on point, dontcha think?

I'm calling you … in the South when someone does something that displeases us, we wanna ask them politely to stop doing it. Uh - I'd like to ask Ann Coulter -- if she wants to debate on issues, on positions -- we certainly disagree with nearly everything she said on your show today -- but uh it's quite another matter for these personal attacks that the things she has said over the years not just about John but about other candidates. It lowers our political dialogue precisely at the time that we need to raise it. So I want to use the opportunity … to ask her politely stop the personal attacks.


You wrote a column a couple years ago which made fun of the moment of Charlie Dean's death, and suggested that my husband had a bumper sticker on the back of his car that said ask me about my dead son. This is not legitimate political dialogue…It debases political dialogue. It drives people away from the process. We can't have a debate about issues if you're using this kind of language.


I'm making this call as a mother. I'm the mother of that boy who died. My children participate -- these young people behind you are the age of my children. You're asking them to participate in a dialogue that's based on hatefulness and ugliness instead of on the issues and I don't think that's serving them or this country very well.

When you read that transcript, or watch the video, does that appear to be spontaneous conversation from Mrs. Edwards, or scripted dialogue? It sounded to me like she was almost reading words that had all the regular talking points we’ve heard lately denouncing conservative talk radio and advancing a revival of the Fairness Doctrine.

For instance, Edwards' remarks came just two days after Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) told Fox News’ Chris Wallace:

Well, in my view, talk radio tends to be one-sided. It also tends to be dwelling in hyperbole. It's explosive. It pushes people to, I think, extreme views without a lot of information…But I do believe in fairness. I remember when there was a fairness doctrine, and I think there was much more serious correct reporting to people.

Hmmm. That rodent aroma is back again, and getting stronger based on this piece in Wednesday’s The Hill (emphasis added):

House Republican lawmakers are preparing to fight anticipated Democratic efforts to regulate talk radio by reviving rules requiring stations to balance conservative hosts such as Rush Limbaugh with liberals such as Al Franken.


“It’s time to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine,” said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). “I have this old-fashioned attitude that when Americans hear both sides of the story, they’re in a better position to make a decision.”


Senate Rules Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said she planned to “look at the legal and constitutional aspects of” reviving the Fairness Doctrine.
“I believe very strongly that the airwaves are public and people use these airwaves for profit,” she said. “But there is a responsibility to see that both sides and not just one side of the big public questions of debate of the day are aired and are aired with some modicum of fairness.”

Rodents. And, this from Sen. John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) on Brian Lehrer’s radio show (date unknown) on WNYC (audio link available here):

I think the Fairness Doctrine ought to be there, and I also think the Equal Time Doctrine ought to come back. I mean, these are the people who wiped out, one of the most profound changes in the balance of the media is when the conservatives got rid of the Equal Time requirements. And the result is that the, you know, they’ve been able to squeeze down and squeeze out opinion of opposing views. I think it’s been a very important transition in the imbalance of our public dialogue.

More rodents, for all this is happening within days of the Center for American Progress’ study concerning how the left needs to assault conservative radio?

If you think this is just a coincidence, I’ve got some bridges for sale.

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Noel Sheppard's picture