BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Ann Coulter, author of "Liberal Lies About the American Right," go back to the first moment you can remember thinking about writing this book.
ANN COULTER, AUTHOR, "SLANDER: LIBERAL LIES ABOUT THE AMERICAN RIGHT": It was after the Clinton trial, after all of the impeachment and the acquittal in the Senate, technically. And you know, even though I had been living all that time with that book, I sat back and I literally was shocked that Clinton had gotten basically the entire Democratic Party and liberals to line up behind him on the basis of his argument, "My opponents are right-wing Republicans." That -- that argument worked. That was a good argument.
Neither I nor anyone I know would have defended a Republican under similar circumstances, and that was when I first started thinking, "They really hate us. What is this about? Is it just abortion? Is it socialism they want?" And I started asking my liberal friends, "What are you afraid of? If Tom DeLay were czar of the universe, what are you afraid he'd do?" And I got, you know, basically, the Cliff Notes version of this book. It was just -- it was just craziness. Republican Party, racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, homophobic.
And I realized you -- you can't have -- there is no serious dialogue or engagement of ideas between the left and the right in this country. There's a lot of fertile debate going on the right. We argue with one another all the time and come up with lots of great new interesting ideas that people are talking about, like school choice, flat tax, Welfare reform, quality of life crimes. It's amazing how productive debate can be when one isn't constantly being called a racist.
LAMB: You have 780 footnotes.
COULTER: Oh, thank you. You counted. I did not count. And that was fewer than were in the original version.
LAMB: Why do you have so many footnotes?
COULTER: I don't want to be Aldriched. I had to explain this to my publisher, Crown Publishing. They're not used to publishing a right-winger. I said, "They are going to jump on every single sentence. I'm going to have to defend it. They're going to say it's not true. And I'll just be looking all this up in the end." It actually was sort of difficult to put all the footnotes in. I could never figure out why everyone else in the world was on Word and I was on WordPerfect. Well, all lawyers are on WordPerfect because the footnotes system is so good. You move text, the footnote moves with it. And publishers are not on WordPerfect. So it was -- it was a total disaster getting these footnotes right. And they asked me to cut as many as I possibly could, which I did. But I don't want to have to be arguing every single little point.
LAMB: Where did you write the book?
COULTER: In my apartment.
LAMB: In what part of the world?
COULTER: Mostly in New York, though some in Washington. I tried originally writing it from L.A., Vail and Aspen, and I wasn't getting much work done.
LAMB: How did you do it? I mean, if you have 780 footnotes, you don't just...
COULTER: I always wonder how people with actual lives write books. How would you write a book if you were married or had anything else going on? I worked -- I worked a lot at it. I read a lot. I mean, there are certain things I had sort of notice and was looking at.
But for example, the religious right chapter -- I mean, that was -- that was an example of how it actually paid to be in Aspen over New Year's. I was talking to one of my really smart financial friends, a banker in Atlanta, basically a Republican. And he started saying to me -- you know, many of my friends see me as the representative of the Republican Party, and they're always telling me what the Republican Party should be doing. And he said, "You know, the problem with the Republican Party is the religious right. They've got to get rid of the religious right."
And I was so struck by this. I said, "You know, you sound like a crazy person. Why not `They have to get rid of the green people?' What do you -- what is the religious right?" So I thought I'd write, you know, five or ten pages on the religious right and how it's just sort of this vague, totemic symbol. And the more I started researching it and reading every mention of the religious right, the more fascinating a subject it became. And I mean fascinating in the clinical sense. And ended up with an entire chapter on it.
I mean, it really is like trying to nail Jell-O to a wall to figure out what the left even means by "religious right." It's this apocryphal enemy, and half of America believes -- not only believes it exists but actually is afraid of it!
LAMB: This book, the day we're taping, which is July 10th, is number one on "The New York Times" best-seller list, and it's number one right out of the box. It didn't wait. I mean, it came -- it takes them two weeks to get to that, you know, once a book gets out. It was number one last Friday on "The Wall Street Journal" list, went right to the top. Did you have any clue that this would happen?
COULTER: I -- I was confident it was going to sell well. I seem to have a fan base. You can sort of sense these things. Fortunately for the Internet, you can actually -- you know, various Web sites that carry my column, they can tell how many unique users have clicked on to read a column. And I know I have a very popular column, and I get a lot of fan mail, and especially since 9/11. I think I may be the only controversialist whose standing has gone up after 9/11.
But I was completely delighted. I think it was more of a surprise to the New York publishing industry, none of whom would publish my book for two months. I was without a publisher at the end of the year and...
LAMB: What do you mean by -- "without a publisher"? I mean, did you have somebody that signed up for it originally?
COULTER: Yes, and my editor, to whom I dedicated the book, died out of the blue. He...
LAMB: Robert Jones?
COULTER: Robert Jones. He did have cancer, but he was supposed to just, you know, have it excised, go through chemotherapy, and he was going to be fine.
LAMB: Where was he? What -- what company?
COULTER: He was at HarperCollins. And the body wasn't -- wasn't cold before they killed the book.
LAMB: That's Rupert Murdoch's company, isn't it?
COULTER: Yes, it is. Judith Regan wanted to pick it up. They would not allow her to. My agent shopped it around for two months...
COULTER: As I describe in my book, the New York publishing industry, except, thank God, for Crown Books and my wonderful publisher and editor -- they react to books by conservatives as -- "Well, this won't sell," even though they've been best-sellers, you know, for 50 years now, and especially now with the Internet. But for two months, my agent shopped it around and no one would buy it. I've kept some of -- mostly, I didn't even want to hear about it, but I've kept some of the snooty rejections, my favorite being that "This book does not move the national dialogue forward." I emailed Joni back. That was from Doubleday...
LAMB: Joni Evans.
COULTER: Yes, my agent -- and said, "You know, that's funny because I thought book publishers made money on the basis of how many books they sold. I didn't realize it was how many yards they moved the national dialogue forward."
But when I visited one of my friends, a liberal author who originally -- well, he actually did have the same editor as I did, so he was the only person I had told. You know, it was sort of embarrassing. No one would publish my book. I didn't even tell my parents. But I told my friend, Frank, and I was visiting him soon after that. And he said, "You know, I expected you to be more upset by this, and you really -- you just are kind of brushing it off and laughing." And I said to him, "I'm really pretty confident I'm going to get it published. And I think it's going to sell well." Number one the first week it was out, I was -- I was not necessarily anticipating.
LAMB: Well, one of the -- I wrote down what you said about publishers. "Publishers don't like conservative books and major media ignore them and bookstores refuse to stock them." And I read that to you because this is Crown, which is owned by Random House, which is owned by Bertelsman, which is the biggest in the world. Why, then -- I mean, did they like you for saying that about the industry?
COULTER: It was funny. I -- I -- and God bless my publisher, Steve Ross, for publishing me. I'm -- funnily, I did not thank him in the acknowledgements because I thought, you know, this is kind of a double-edged sword. He's going to be -- he's going to be snubbed at cocktail parties if I mention him. I mean, my editor, my sainted editor, Doug Pepper, and my agent, they're stuck with me. But I've -- in the future printings, I do want to thank Steve Ross because it would not have been this book without him. When I said, "Are you sure you won't be snubbed from future cocktail parties" -- I asked him if I could thank him in successive printings, and he said, "Oh, I don't go to that many cocktail parties anyway."
But when I met with him, he said, you know, "I happen to have noticed conservative books keep showing up on the best-sellers list, and we're in this business to make money." And when I told them during that first meeting that, in point of fact, I had an entire chapter, or at least one third of a chapter, on the publishing industry, he was quite anxious to read it.
LAMB: Let me go and read some of what you've written, as a flavor of some of the things you have in your book. "Non-anonymous National Public Radio's Nina Totenberg" -- first of all, why'd you call her "non-anonymous"?
COULTER: I think it was contrasting with a prior sentence or paragraph there.
LAMB: "Anonymous Molinari (ph)," is what you -- I thought you might be contrasting with the anonymous Anita Hill story from -- I thought you might be referring...
COULTER: I think it's the prior...
LAMB: Yes, it is. It is.
COULTER: ... sentence there.
LAMB: Let me read it. "Nina Totenberg showed how serious journalists work, remarking of Molinari's CBS gig, quote, `Well, this really makes me want to puke. You know, at least CBS had the decency when they hired Diane Sawyer from the Nixon White House to make her go out and stand in the rain for a year or so to earn her position. It really -- it just makes me want to throw up.'"
What's in that sentence or couple of sentences that describes what you're trying to get at?
COULTER: Well, that is the part where all of the media world goes crazy that CBS had hired moderate, pro-choice Susan Molinari to deliver, you know, cooking and exercise tips on Sunday morning TV. And meanwhile, earlier in the chapter, I've cited dozens of journalists who worked on the staff of Democrats or who were Democratic politicians themselves delivering objective news. I mean, at the same time, CBS had hired Bill Bradley, Democratic senator, soon to run for president, to actually deliver political analysis on the evening news. Here Susan Molinari was just going to be giving, you know, little self-help human-interest-type stories, and the reaction in the media -- you would have thought that, you know, CBS had turned over the news division to the Republican Party, or perhaps the Klan!
LAMB: A paragraph right afterwards, you point out that National Public Radio has been run by Delano Lewis, Doug Bennet and Frank Mankiewicz. Why did you do that?
COULTER: Well, it describes it in the paragraph. I can't remember which one worked for whom, but each one of them worked -- I mean, was in and out of Democratic administrations. And here Nina Totenberg, who works for NPR, is going crazy, as was everyone -- that was just one of the more colorful statements about the -- the "outrage" of hiring Susan Molinari to deliver cooking tips. But if you -- if you...
LAMB: Yes, but...
LAMB: ... point I wanted to ask you about, though, is that you -- you're suggesting that because Delano Lewis, Doug Bennet and Frank Mankiewicz all are Democrats, all had worked for a Democratic administration...
COULTER: Or worked for administrations.
LAMB: ... and ran National Public Radio, that there was something wrong with that.
COULTER: No, but I actually don't think there's something wrong with partisan political service, as I think I say on the next page. I don't think it's a bad thing to have had actual work for a Republican or a Democratic administration or a senator or a congressman. I just think both parties ought to be able to make that -- that transition through the revolving door. And in point of fact, that isn't how it's treated. Work for a Democratic senator or a Democratic president, even one who was impeached, disbarred and held in contempt -- well, that's considered good, solid journalistic training! That sort of transition happens all the time, whereas you don't see Peggy Noonan, George Will, Tony Blankley -- they're not delivering objective news anyplace.
LAMB: So what's this tour been like so far?
COULTER: Very exhausting.
COULTER: Just because I've an excellent publicist who has -- who has done what I asked her to do, which is to keep me hawking my book constantly.
LAMB: Why do you want to hawk your book?
COULTER: Because I think it's an important book, and I want people to read it. If -- if I -- if I can't get liberals to read it -- though I think by attacking so many of them, I may have enticed some of them into flipping through a few pages -- I would at least like Americans to read through it so that they will hoot with laughter the next time, for example, they hear a Republican presidential candidate called "stupid."
LAMB: Who do they call stupid?
COULTER: Every Republican presidential candidate since Calvin Coolidge, with the exception -- if you are not stupid, the less popular way of dismissing a substantial conservative is to portray him as scarily weird. Nixon was scarily weird rather than stupid. Bush, Senior, was saved only by his lightning-rod vice president, Dan Quayle. They couldn't simultaneously say that Dan Quayle was the stupidest man ever born of woman, and so was George Bush his boss. So he -- he took most of the heat off the former President Bush, though even -- even President Bush was ridiculed as a simpleton who was constantly stumbling over his words.
But certainly, going back to Calvin Coolidge -- Eisenhower -- I think most stunningly, the stupid argument was used against the bumbling old guy who won the cold war. And I cover that quite a bit because Americans remember him, and they remember that he wasn't stupid. And now, most recently, the comparison between Bush and Gore -- it's just always the same thing.
The Republican is always an idiot, an idiot, an idiot. Any small mistake he makes will be reported and then justified on the grounds that it reinforces impressions. Well, where did those impressions come from? Because you always call every Republican stupid and the Democrat is always such a genius, so intelligent that when he then goes on to lose, that is always explained as "He just couldn't connect to the common voter, couldn't connect to the common man," like Adlai Stevenson.
LAMB: How would you characterize your politics?
LAMB: What does that mean?
COULTER: For one thing, evidently, it means I believe in a being even higher than "The New York Times," which could make me a member of the religious right, especially when you throw in that I would like taxes cut. And...
LAMB: Are you a traditional conservative, or a libertarian conservative?
Libertarian Party -- capital "L" -- can end up being a little pointless and a little cowardly, I mean, just to attack both parties -- "Oh, it's both the Republicans and the Democrats." No. Come on! It really isn't. There may be a lot of bad Republicans. There are no good Democrats. And this is just not helping move the ball forward to sit back and say "Both sides, both sides." The idea that there isn't a difference between the parties is preposterous.
And also, I think people often claim to be libertarians -- I mean, I do think there are a lot of intellectual libertarians and there is a good argument behind it. I -- but I -- in public discourse, claiming to be a libertarian -- most people don't even know what you're talking about. It sort of sounds like "liberal," and I just think it's sort of the cowardly thing to say. Though do I disagree with most -- most of the small "L" libertarians I know? No. Oh, no, no, no. I'd roll back the government probably at least as far as they would.
LAMB: How long have you been a conservative?
COULTER: Always, though I must say, going to Cornell and University of Michigan, their system didn't work on me. Rather than becoming a liberal, I think that pushed me more to the right, or at least made me more skeptical and made me mildly contemptuous of liberals because I don't like bullies and snobs, and that is what liberals are. And it just -- I mean, if you have...
LAMB: All liberals?
COULTER: Well, certainly, the ones you see -- no. These are generalizations. Some of my best friends are liberals. But especially on a college campus. I mean, people sneering and laughing with contempt whenever Ronald Reagan's name is mentioned, calling him "Ray-gun," ha, ha, ha. I mean, any -- any thinking person who isn't a lemming and -- and going -- bending to authority has to rebel about that -- against that sort of thing.
I notice now when I give college speeches -- and I love giving college speeches, usually to conservatives, who will bring me in to speak, of course -- and they are just -- they -- I love them because they're so anti-authority. They love annoying their professors. They love annoying the sort of politically correct status on campus. And apparently, one popular way of annoying liberals is bringing me to speak!
LAMB: What -- undergrad at Cornell or law degree?
COULTER: Undergrad, and Michigan Law School.
LAMB: And where did you grow up?
COULTER: New Canaan, Connecticut.
LAMB: What kind of a family? What did your parents do?
COULTER: My father was a lawyer. He's retired now. My parents still live there. And my mother was a homemaker.
LAMB: And what were their politics?
COULTER: Definitely conservative, and we all -- we argued all the time about politics and religion. My oldest brother always told me that the -- the etiquette rule of it being impolite to discuss religion and politics was invented by liberals because they don't want people to argue about things. And I must say, as I indicate in this book, that does seem to be true. But you know, we considered Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner an utter failure if we didn't argue about both religion and politics.
But -- I mean, you know, none of were communists or -- I don't think -- I may have gone through a strutting atheist phase briefly. But you know, it's just fun to argue. It's -- and you don't have to, you know, hate the other person for arguing.
LAMB: How many in the family?
COULTER: Two older brothers. So five in all.
LAMB: And their politics?
COULTER: All conservatives. I mean, I'm sure -- we have disagreements about things, and we argue about things. But I'm proud to say I don't think I have a relative on either side of my family who voted for FDR.
LAMB: You'll understand this question. When did you become Ann Coulter?
COULTER: Ann Coulter, Inc.?
LAMB: When did you become the Ann Coulter that we've seen for a number of years? And when did you have that -- when did you develop that personality, I would assume you would agree, that can be confrontational?
COULTER: Yes, I think I just saw one of -- I have -- many of my friends go back many, many years, back to when I was a little girl at camp or growing up in Connecticut. And I wouldn't have known the answer to this except that they tell me this, that I have never changed at all and that I was even like this in camp.
LAMB: Do you have a political hero? Or heroine. Someone that you've always looked up to.
COULTER: Lots -- not -- I'm trying to think if there is actually one, in particular. Certainly, Phyllis Schlafly, as I describe in this book. I mean, she's just an amazing woman. Amazing!
LAMB: You have a whole chapter, basically, on her, talking about -- what?
COULTER: What a stunning woman she is and how most people don't know that. And that has been one of the biggest surprises both to liberals and to conservatives because Schlafly is ignored or demeaned by the media.
LAMB: Who is she?
COULTER: She is so much! To begin with -- well, she most famously the woman who -- who stopped the Equal Rights Amendment. When she found out about the Equal Rights Amendment, it was on a steamroller to passage. It was supported in the platforms of both the Republican and Democratic Parties. It was supported by every president and living ex-president and their wives, a slew of Hollywood celebrities, every women's magazine in the country. And Phyllis Schlafly -- and what I find most amazing is that this was all done before the Internet. Phyllis Schlafly basically single-handedly mobilized an army of women to get it defeated, and making serious, substantial arguments. She didn't care about the liberal elitist sneering, the snobs, the bullies I describe. And before that, she had written "A Choice, Not an Echo," an...
LAMB: Do you know her?
COULTER: I have met her and spoken at her conferences.
COULTER: And I wrote the introduction to her upcoming book.
LAMB: Where did you get the idea of featuring her in the book?
COULTER: Well, I always sort of knew about -- I mean, as one of my friends went from being a Harvard communist to conservative, how he described his transition -- I started to notice things. And I started to notice things about what just an unbelievable accomplished woman and brilliant woman Phyllis Schlafly is.
She was almost the first woman ever to attend Harvard Law School. She was at Harvard graduate school at the time. Harvard Law School didn't admit women, but her professors thought she was so brilliant, they were going to make an exception for her. She transformed the Republican Party from a party of -- well, northeastern snobs, the Rockefeller Republicans, into a conservative Republican Party by writing "A Choice, Not an Echo." The average non-fiction book sells about 5,000 copies. Her book, "A Choice, Not an Echo," sold three million copies! That is mind-boggling!
She got Goldwater nominated and led to the movement that -- that created a Ronald Reagan presidency. She's written 10 books, most of them on military policy, serious, substantial books. And how is she treated by the media? She'll never get a Woman of the Year award from "Glamour" magazine or all of these magazines handing out awards to irrelevant feminist harpies.
LAMB: You think she cares?
COULTER: That's what I admire about her. No, I don't think she does. But it takes a lot of character not to care. As you see all the time from -- well, for example, I mean, something that I mention in my book -- and it's been coming up again on the book tour. I am just astonished at how many people leapt all over Jerry Falwell after fanatical Muslims slaughtered thousands of our fellow countrymen! I mean, if you run a LexisNexis search after September 11th, the immediate impulse after September 11th was to start denouncing Christians! And I mean, part of that is -- is from cowardly conservatives and Republicans who want to show how intelligent they are and they can attack people on the right, as well.
It's hard not to care what the establishment says. It's hard to be demeaned as being stupid, dowdy, ugly all the time. And to have the fortitude to stand up to that -- she'll have a place in heaven for it!
LAMB: How important is it to you to be chosen by "Glamour" magazine as the Woman of the Year, or whatever?
COULTER: Manifestly not at all!
LAMB: You don't care. You...
COULTER: I wouldn't write the things I write.
LAMB: One of the targets in your book, as you well, know, is "The New York Times."
LAMB: Now, there you are, already you're number one in "The New York Times," the best-sellers. They haven't written a review that's been published so far. And you -- I guess, based on what I've read, you suspect that they wouldn't write a favorable review anyway.
COULTER: Rush Limbaugh's book was number -- his first book -- number one on "The New York Times" best-seller list for one year, and they did not review it. Finally, Judith Regan started taunting them and shamed them into reviewing the book, and they wrote, you know, a vicious, nasty piece about it. So no, I think they will not review my book. And if they do, it will be, you know, Bill Clinton reviewing it!
LAMB: But why does it matter? I mean, who cares whether they say good things -- here you are, number one, without them.
COULTER: It matters less now than it did before. Thank God for the Internet and talk radio, the samizdat media, as I call it. Conservatives do have other ways to get out. But -- but I think the effect of the cross-promotion in the major media can't be discounted. I would like a lot of people to read my book, and not just conservatives. And to be -- to be featured and -- and promoted in "Newsweek," "Vanity Fair," "New York Times" -- I mean, they're doing your publicity for you. More people read your book, and that's what I want, to have a lot of people read my book.
LAMB: Well, let me just -- I don't want to sound Devil's advocate, but -- in your book, everybody you attack, basically, has come around and said -- Crown says "I'll publish your book." You were on the "Today" show. You say nobody -- conservative ever gets to launch their book on the "Today" show. You did.
COULTER: Well, these are generalizations. Though, I have to say -- well, for one thing, no one would publish my book for two months. In fact, it was rushed out. We didn't have any galleys. I couldn't wait any more. I wanted to publish it. I had been living with this book for a while. First my editor, Robert, got cancer, and then no one would publish my book. And so I -- that was very important to me. It was published faster than -- than Crown and mainstream publishers I think ever publish a book. So there were no galleys. There were no final read-throughs. There are a few commas I'd like to correct, a few more paragraph breaks here and there. So that is a problem.
And I must say, a Crown -- a silence fell over Crown Books when the "Today" show came back booking me.
LAMB: Tactics -- let me ask you -- did you sit at your typewriter and say, "If I attack Katie Couric, bingo, they're going to put me on the `Today' show"?
COULTER: Oh, no.
LAMB: "If I attack `The New York Times,' they're going to have to write about this"?
COULTER: Oh, no. I think they are less likely to write about it. No, I've never been able to game things. It's hard enough to figure out what you think and write about them in some -- a way that you think is persuasive. Trying -- trying to game issues -- no. I write what I think is true. I mean, to the contrary, it did -- it did cross my mind now and then, you know, "I attack a lot of people in the major media. I wonder if they'll refuse to have me on now?" But what am I going to do, not write it? I mean, it's not like they're doing me any favors now anyway.
LAMB: How are they treating you, as you go around on these interviews? And is it better -- would it be better for me to sit here and yell at you and argue with you, for your purposes, than to be the way we are?
COULTER: I don't think so. The only network interview I've -- I've had so far, I guess, is on the "Today" show.
LAMB: Didn't that work, though, when...
LAMB: You know, when she -- the more she comes at you -- doesn't it work for both of you?
COULTER: Well, I don't -- I don't know. I'm not really good at judging those things. But I can assure you, if what I wanted was network attention, was fawning write-ups in "Vanity Fair" or reviews in "The New York Times," I wouldn't say the things I do. I wouldn't write the things I do. It would be very -- it's very easy, as every, quote, "moderate Republican," knows, how to be billed as a genius in "The New York Times" or after he voted to uphold Roe v. Wade, how to be billed as the "new intellectual leader on the Supreme Court" in a front -- you know, cover story on "The New York Times" magazine. Souter knows. O'Connor knows. I mean, everyone senses how you get called an intellectual titan by the mainstream media. Well, support abortion, be a liberal.
LAMB: Let me quote back to you some things that you said in your book about Senator Jim Jeffords...
COULTER: An excellent example of this point!
LAMB: You called him a "half-wit."
COULTER: Well, because he is, and I'm making a point, which is he will never, ever be described that way. He's -- he's never seen a tax hike he doesn't approve of. He voted against Clarence Thomas. He left the Republican Party, explaining that he was against slavery, incomprehensibly. He has been a reliable pro-abortion vote.
It is absolutely impossible, even though, as I think I have provided some evidence -- for one thing, taking 20 years to figure out that he's a Democrat -- he's been voting with the Democrats for 20 years -- and his pretaped description of the most important vote he would take in his life, in which he can barely string a coherent sentence together -- the point I'm making is if you are a half-wit, if you do have a skeleton in the closet, such as killing a girl at Chappaquiddick or a former membership in the KKK, you had best jump when the media says jump or don't expect a career in politics.
There is no possible way a conservative Republican, someone like Jesse Helms, could have a former membership in the Klan and still be a United States senator, could have killed a girl at Chappaquiddick. I think this has very troubling implications for democracy that you have these politicians out there who are basically the pimps for the media. And Packwood, as I describe in chapter three, is really...
LAMB: Tom Packwood, the former senator.
COULTER: Right. I think he is the most stunning example of this because it's one thing to look at Jesse Helms being called a wily pandering bigot while Teddy Kennedy is described as a man of principal.
In the case of Packwood, it's the exact same human being and for 20 years he was wildly molesting, slobber kissing, sexually harassing female lobbyists and staff and there was absolute radio silence. There was no mention, but I quote one NARAL worker he did this for who said, well what was I going to do call him on the carpet?
Abortion rights were on the line, but the second they didn't need his pro-abortion vote anymore, the second abortion's truest defender came into the White House, suddenly the media discovered what has been going on for 20 years, and then instantly he was gone. And, as I say, and I think it's true if God himself emerged and told Teddy Kennedy to be against abortion, he could not do it. He couldn't do it and stay in the United States Senate.
LAMB: How about this cover just for a second, where was that picture taken?
COULTER: I absolutely did not want to be on the cover of my book, by the way. That was, I sent them a Polaroid and the rest of it was created by computer. That is not actually my hand there, for example. I think it's a brilliant cover though. As I say, I didn't want to be on the cover but no one would even discuss it with me.
LAMB: So that picture comes from a Polaroid?
COULTER: Uh huh. I sent them that and the rest, like the newspaper and the hand is computer generated. It's quite brilliant. I have to say when I saw that, it was one of those times in life when you sit back and think you know I think I'm such a smart person but there are all these people doing jobs out there and they are really smart. That's a really smart cover and I can say that because I had nothing to do with it.
LAMB: All right, you're a lawyer. I just asked you one subtle question. You call this book "Slander," was that your idea?
COULTER: No, and in fact I said to them, by the way I didn't like the name "High Crimes and Misdemeanors." I was wrong. They were right. Allan Bloom did not like the name "Closing of the American Mind." He wanted it to be something like "Sold Without Longing," and in fact the person who came up with the name for that book was my agent Joni Evans when she was with Simon & Shuster.
So, by the time I got to this book I realized authors are good at what's writing in between the covers but are terrible marketers. So I didn't really care what the name, I wanted it to be "Liberals Unhinged." They came up with the name and the first thing I said to them was they're going to attack me because it's not just slander. It's slander and libel and they're willing to say oh, you're a lawyer.
But you know slander is the more colloquial of the two and I am discussing both and sometimes it isn't even technically legally libel or slander although there are a lot of lies. But I just, I was very easy on the title question.
LAMB: Did the lawyers vet this thing?
COULTER: Oh yes.
LAMB: For how long? Did they take stuff out?
COULTER: No they didn't. The lawyer said it was the quickest legal check she had ever done.
COULTER: Because in her description, as a lawyer I know just how to walk to the line and not cross it, because I'm either giving my opinion or I'm quoting people.
LAMB: All right, Christie Todd Whitman you call a birdbrain.
COULTER: Uh huh, another example of someone...
LAMB: Why isn't that slander?
COULTER: It's my opinion.
LAMB: Oh. You say she's a dimwit.
COULTER: Uh huh.
LAMB: Why do you use that?
COULTER: Well, the reason I'm saying that is, as I say, to make the point that as long as you are pro-abortion or jump when the media says jump, you will be hailed as Christie Todd Whitman is in "The New York Times," the GOP's new idol. I really loved that coming from "The New York Times."
They haven't endorsed a Republican for president, you know, for 50 years but they're telling us who our new idol is? I mean the point is, as I say, if you have something to hide, either stupidity or a skeleton in the closet, you're owned by the media.
LAMB: You get around, I assume, Washington and New York. What if Christie Todd Whitman's in a party that you're in? She comes up to you and she says why did you call me a dimwit?
COULTER: Well, I mean I cite several examples. It's not like I call her a dimwit and move on. I think I have some pretty darn good examples of it. I mean just her judicial selections, which are described at some length in the footnote, by the way. That was originally in the text.
LAMB: In the State of New Jersey?
COULTER: Right. Right. She actually single-handedly turns the New Jersey state court, the Supreme Court into the most laughable state Supreme Court in the nation, and that's, you know fighting off some stiff competition out there, and I run through a list of those rulings and "The New York Times" or whichever newspaper it was, I cited as rushing to her for advice on Bush's judicial nominees. I mean it's really comical.
I cite a number of her statements that I think are highly questionable but they will - or highly stupid, let me say, but she will never be called stupid. Oh, no, no, no. Dan Quayle will be called stupid. George Bush will be called stupid. Ronald Reagan will be called stupid.
I'm doing it to make a point and to make a comparison. I'm not arguing against one of her positions as liberals do by saying oh well, she's stupid. Let's dismiss her idea. I'm making a specific point that if you are stupid or if you do have skeletons in the closet, you had better be a liberal.
LAMB: You write a little bit about Jeffrey Toobin.
LAMB: I will quote you. You say he's a political hack, duly celebrated for making things up.
LAMB: Who is he?
COULTER: Well, the reason I say that is that he was ABC's legal analyst. That is, I believe, in the chapter on the media and how stunning it is, how they will take - well for example, at ABC during the 2000 election from the right, from the left, political commentators analyzing the election were two members of the Clinton administration. That's the political spectrum at ABC, the most conservative member of a democratic administration?
I mean that is really stunning and to be taking Jeffrey Toobin as their legal analyst, I mean he was chastised by a Kennedy appointee federal judge, and further details are cited in the footnotes. Mickey Kauts (ph) wrote about this extensively.
LAMB: Gloria Steinem is a deeply ridiculous figure, and you also say she slept with Mortimer Zuckerman.
COULTER: That's all footnoted. She said it. I mean it's from articles. I mean I'm not just saying she slept with Mortimer Zuckerman. I'm pointing out there that that is the contrast between Phyllis Schlafly and Gloria Steinem and I really thought this was pretty amazing that - Liz Smith wrote an article defending Steinem.
I mean basically all of her projects have failed. "Ms. Magazine" failed. The ERA failed. Various follow-up measures failed, but she is constantly you know hailed for her raw courage for having accomplished what I don't know other than, you know, impressing and influencing a lot of liberal women in big cities who apparently write for magazines and can keep running articles praising her.
But there was an article, you know, when "Ms. Magazine" was flagging. She was apparently dating Mort Zuckerman. This was written up in a Liz Smith article saying that, you know, check stubs had been produced and Mort Zuckerman sent some of his top men over there to help Gloria Steinem o save her failing magazine.
Well is this supposed to be the feminist hero now, go out and fail and find a rich man to prop you up? And it was from her own comments in the media saying that she never loved him.
LAMB: Howard Kurtz who is the ombudsman for "The Washington Post" writes about the media. You say is an apologist for the liberal media.
LAMB: Why? How do you - on what basis?
COULTER: Well, I cite examples in the book and I mean that's why I can serve as right book so that I can write it down and footnote it and put it in. Well two examples I'll give you off the top of my head which I think are in the book.
After President Clinton blamed Oklahoma City on Rush Limbaugh and other talk radio hosts and that got repeated and ricocheted through the media sound chamber, when talk radio hosts did not instantly admit complicity in the bombing, but instead objected to this preposterous, vicious attack on talk radio hosts, Howard Kurtz starting referring to this as you know the blame game on both sides.
That really is one of the biggest pieces of propaganda, one of the biggest lies that has always made liberals viciously attack conservatives, compare them to Downs Syndrome, wish them dead of cholesterol-induced heart attacks, accuse them of trying to bring back slavery, and then they say oh well both sides do it.
No. I think the point of my book is both sides do not do it and this easy equation of just backing off and saying oh well you guys do it too. Well OK, I've just written my book showing that they do it. I'd like to see a carefully documented 35 pages of footnotes of them showing how we do it because we don't. We couldn't get away with it.
LAMB: What's your favorite chapter in the book?
COULTER: Chapter 2.
LAMB: And why?
COULTER: Because I think it's true that it's about how liberals - I think that is my favorite chapter or maybe the "You're Stupid" chapter. I really love my book. I love them all. But the snob chapter I think is an important chapter and what's strange about it is that the evidence is so overwhelming that the Democratic Party represents you know these Malibu Marie Antoinette's and Park Avenue matrons, and the Republican Party represents the middle class, the working class, the average American who wants his taxes cut and believes in God.
But for years, just through power of repetition somehow Democrats have been able to portray Republicans or liberals have been able to portray conservatives, ooh the powerful, the party of the powerful, party of the rich, whereas Barbra Streisand and Martha Stewart, that's the party of the people.
I mean it's just - I think the paradigm is out there in front of people but because of repetition they can't see something going on right in front of them and it explains a lot. I mean right now with the corporate scandals, it's really amazing how Democrats just try to associate the Republican Party with corporations. It's a springboard from the idea that Republicans represent the rich. The rich, the rich, oh contraire, we represent the middle class. You guys are representing the soccer moms on Park Avenue.
LAMB: You thank a lot of people in your acknowledgements, among them "New York Times" reporter Frank Bruni (ph). And then you say at the end, finally with sincerest thanks to Punch Sulzberger (ph) and the entire staff of "The New York Times," without whom this book would have been impossible. Now did you get Frank Bruni (ph) in trouble because you do take off after "The New York Times" throughout the entire book and he works there?
COULTER: No, I checked with everyone I thanked in the acknowledgements, which I was very parsimonious with because I think people don't read long acknowledgements and they start to seem sort of phony so there are other people I could have thanked but I was very, very parsimonious in the people I thanked, and finally I also thank Ellie Burkett (ph), another one of my liberal friends. Both of them wrote a book together about the Catholic priest scandal actually going back some years. It was just reissued. And to retaliate, they thanked me.
LAMB: Jim Downey, who's he?
COULTER: He is someone whose career will be ruined if I admit I know him.
LAMB: Is he in this business?
COULTER: No, he's in a business that's even more vicious, entertainment.
LAMB: Why did you thank him?
COULTER: But I did ask him. A lot of people I thank, I also thank someone whom I consider the most brave, you haven't noticed, for allowing me to thank him and that is Miguel Estrada, one of Bush's judicial nominees, and I thought that was really quite brave of him but...
LAMB: Why did you thank him?
COULTER: Because all of these people in one way or another helped me with this specific book or with my column sometime in the past year. You can't thank people for your columns. Sometimes it's by arguing with me. Sometimes it's by giving me a funny line. Sometimes it's by giving me an idea of something they've read. There are all different ways people help you, I mean with the substance of the book besides just being a friend.
LAMB: Who's Melanie Graham?
COULTER: Also in the entertainment world who will be ruined. Oh no, no one in the entertainment world is going to watch this show.
LAMB: Why not?
COULTER: Because we're using words with more than two syllables.
LAMB: But you're...
COULTER: If they watched the show they'd all be conservatives. Did you see that NPR listeners, something like 72 percent are conservative? And you remember from your own show here when you just had open lines, it was all conservatives calling and you had to set up a liberal line. If liberals paid attention to politics, they'd all be conservatives.
LAMB: You thank Jay Mann (ph). Who's he?
COULTER: He was at Cornell. Now, he's completely protected because he's a wealthy man. He's married to Lisa Schiffrin (ph), who you might know. She's a writer. He's a good friend of mine.
LAMB: John Harrison?
COULTER: Very funny. John Harrison is a law professor.
COULTER: The University of Virginia.
LAMB: Eugene Meyer?
COULTER: He is the head of the vast right wing conspiracy. He heads the Federalist Society.
LAMB: Jim Moody?
COULTER: He's one of my libertarian friends, after making fun of them a few minutes ago. He was briefly - well at the significant time Linda Tripp's lawyer and he was one of my friends I used to ski and go to Dead shows with.
LAMB: Dead shows? Hans Bater (ph)?
COULTER: He is a lawyer at the last law firm I worked for, Center for Individual Rights.
LAMB: Why do you thank him?
COULTER: The same as all of them. Some of them I e-mail my columns to. They give me comments. They give me ideas. It's by e-mail, telephone, they help in different ways, and as I say, sometimes by arguing with me about points, which helps me make something stronger.
LAMB: Jeremy Rabkin?
COULTER: Professor at Cornell who has tenure, so I can say that.
LAMB: And John, is it Tukle (ph)?
COULTER: A law school classmate who is a prosecutor.
LAMB: Why did you go to law school?
COULTER: I was planning on being a lawyer.
LAMB: Did you ever practice law?
COULTER: Oh yes, four years in New York. Then I came to work for the Senate Judiciary Committee and I was working for public interest firms, Center for Individual Rights when I wrote "High Crimes and Misdemeanors." And in fact, I only took a six-month leave from my law firm to write it. I didn't realize you actually had to promote a book, so I wrote it and went right back to the law firm. I never thought I would be - that's not quite right.
When I first graduated from college, I did want to be a writer but I had always wanted to be a lawyer before then so I told my father I was going to take a few years off to be a writer rather than go to law school, and he said "well that's fine, Ann, but I'm not paying for it." So I went to law school and I'm glad I did.
LAMB: When were you at the University of Michigan?
COULTER: I graduated in '88.
LAMB: Go back to the Cornell experience and the Michigan experience. We always hear conservatives say that academia is full of nothing but liberals. Was that your experience?
COULTER: Yes with the exception of Professor Rabkin at Cornell, and Michigan is one of the less ideological law schools. We didn't have any of the legal ….but by and large quite liberal. I wouldn't say there was any Professor Rabkin at Michigan, not that I recall. There were a few, maybe one or two who might possibly have voted for Reagan, actually, one or two.
I was at law school during the Bork nomination and I think there was only one professor who testified in favor of Bork, and oh probably dozens who testified against him, so that gives you a little bit of it, maybe not dozens but surely half a dozen.
LAMB: You call Jesse Ventura a loud mouth anti-Christian bigot.
COULTER: Well it is described in fuller detail in the book, that he was one of the most preposterous martyrs to the religious right. The religious right chapter can't be summarized in a sound byte or, as I say, I wouldn't have needed to write it.
But first of all, the main point is just how uncannily Orwellian the religious right is. You know you never hear about the atheist left. It's just this crazy totemic symbol that's masses are trained to laugh at and sneer at and you know people are constantly denouncing this apocryphal religious right and are always hailed for their courage.
In doing so, including Jesse Ventura when he gave an interview with "Playboy" Magazine and said something to the effect that, I mean I have it quoted in my book obviously, something to the effect that people who go to church are weak minded. He then quickly had to explain - or religious people or something to that effect - well he was just talking about the religious right.
And it was stunning how you know the entire media erupted in praise for his courage, his genius, in standing up the religious right. You know OK it's bad enough that liberals have to be bullies to people who happen to believe in God. To be hailing people for courage and standing up against the powerless on behalf of the powerful is really more than people should have to bear.
LAMB: Why didn't Regnery publish this book like they published "High Crimes and Misdemeanors?"
COULTER: For one thing, I had originally gone to Harper Collins because of Robert Jones. He knew of me I guess from TV. We had a mutual friend Ellie Burkett (ph), one of my liberal friends I thank in the acknowledgements, and she set us up, introduces us and he was just so wonderful. He was so wonderful. He was my little conversion case. I was trying to turn him into a right-winger.
While I was writing my book, we'd go out to dinner really quite frequently, if not once a month, once every two months and I'd wear him down, wear him down, get him used to what was coming. He called my agent before. This book never even went to auction in the first place because he called my agent after we had first had dinner and said he wanted an early copy of it and please send it to me.
Regnery was looking at it first and he called her up and said how much do I have to pay so that you don't put this book up for auction, and I really liked him and he really wanted my book, so we went with him and then I love Regnery and I say a lot of very nice things about them.
LAMB: How many...
COULTER: I wanted to see what it was like having a mainstream publisher.
LAMB: How many copies of "High Crimes and Misdemeanors" did you sell?
COULTER: About a quarter million.
LAMB: That's a lot of money.
COULTER: It's never enough money. No, in fact someone just told me, I don't know if this is true, that the median income for a writer in America is about $2,000. If you want to make money, being a writer isn't the way to go. My agent e-mailed me recently saying, because I actually do have ideas for what the next book's going to be.
The original copy of this book was 600 pages, but no one will publish a 600-page book because apparently very few want to read a 600-page book, so this was pretty much the first 200 pages. We cut it down from there. So I already have a rough first draft of something I would like to be the next book. My agent e-mailed me and said I know you don't care about money and you just want to change the world, but I'm your agent. Can I care about money? Can you please send me a proposal?
LAMB: Did they give you a big advance on this book?
COULTER: Not as big as it was with Harper Collins, which I then of course had to pay back. It was a bad year last year. Not only did I not get the second half of my advance, but I had to pay what I'd already gotten back from, as you say, Rupert Murdock's company.
LAMB: Isn't that a strange thing though that Rupert Murdoch's company wouldn't publish your book?
COULTER: I don't think he has much oversight.
LAMB: But isn't it strange though that someone of his political persuasion wouldn't have a company that would publish your book?
COULTER: I suppose so, though my impression is that the publishing world is just very liberal and the people who go into it are very liberal. And, by the way, I had turned Robert into a conservative.
LAMB: How old was he?
COULTER: He was young. He was about 43. The night he died, Ellie and I got together with his partner, who said he was becoming a conservative because you know he lived in Manhattan. He's in the publishing industry. He said you know Robert had been every kind of radical. He was the spokesman for Act Up. He was a college radical. He was a communist radical and he finally figured out the only way to be a radical in New York, in Manhattan, was to be a conservative.
LAMB: On the back of your book, Bob Novak says: "Ann Coulter is one of the fiery new breed of conservative commentators who don't worry what the establishment thinks of them." And in "The Washington Post" last Sunday, his son-in-law, Christopher Calwell (ph) have you seen that, the review?
COULTER: Yes, I was wondering when "The Washington Post" book reviewers dropped the practice of reading a book before reviewing it.
LAMB: He says, you know, you're talking about this is the strangest and strongest part of the book. "Coulter is on the verge of showing that our cultural lead is not a clique but a class as Marx would understand the term and that the Democratic Party is the instrument for protecting that class' interests, but she drops the ball.
She drops the ball because she can not bear to say that the Republicans may indeed represent the nation's Philistines. Actually, she can not bear to say anything negative about Republicans at all. With all the intellectual and literary tools at her disposal, culture could have shown us how class mimicry creates political conformity. Instead she's produced a piece of political hack work." How can Robert Novak's son-in-law say that about you and why?
COULTER: Evidently by not reading the book. Oh, why? I think you'd need a few psychologists to figure that out.
LAMB: But did it surprise you that he said that and did it surprise you then that "The Washington Post" had him review your book and you think they knew what he was going to say before they asked him to review it?
COULTER: I have no idea. I mean that particular point, the entire review is very strange for - I've always wanted to write a book review because you can sort of see this is some book reviews where I make it really, really obvious that all I've read is the introduction, the jacket flap, and the conclusion. You know I just keeping going on and on about the introductory page and on and on about the jacket flap.
He didn't even have the courtesy of reading the introduction and the conclusion. I mean it's one thing to say you disagree with me but to say - I mean I say exactly - I mean Ann doesn't say they're Philistines. No, in fact I say quite the contrary. I've met liberals and I've met evangelicals and let me tell you evangelicals are a lot more tolerant, thoughtful, and cosmopolitan than parochial, bigoted liberals are.
I mean it's not that I don't address it. I'd address it and say precisely the opposite of what you said. You've just been listing off a series of Republicans I attack. He says I don't attack Republicans. I mean this is someone who read the first ten pages of my book and then wrote a review.
And as for reviews generally, I think it wouldn't take a team of psychologists and you know MIT scientists to figure out what portion of the review is writer envy and what portion of it is ideological disagreements. The only bad review I got from my last book was from "National Review." Interestingly enough, people don't see conservatives as being you know purely an ideological force. That isn't always the case.
LAMB: Let me ask you though, again, we talked a little bit about this earlier. The Republicans control the House. The Republicans have the White House. You're number one at least when we're recording this on "The New York Times" and "Wall Street Journal" bestseller list and you spend all your time attacking "The New York Times" and all the big networks. Do they matter anymore? I mean why are you still mad about the fact that all these people have what you say is a liberal bias?
COULTER: The reason I think conservatives still have the White House and my book is doing well and we still have the House, thought wait and see after the next election, I think we're likely to lose seats only because it's a mid-term election, is because of the great commonsense of the American people.
But think how great a country would be if they weren't being propagandized to on a daily basis, day in and day out from ABC, NBC, CBS, "Washington Post," "New York Times," "TIME," "NEWSWEEK," and "U.S. News and World Report." I mean it really is amazing the conservatives ever win any victories at all with this propaganda machine and the colleges and the public schools.
The left really does control these three incredibly crucial nerve centers and I just say off with them. You've nearly wrecked the country. Be gone. Be gone. And you know books I think are quite, as I described in my book, in all of the media where there's competition, books, talk radio, and the Internet, yes Americans are actually very clever people and they keep choosing conservatives. So it's interesting that instead we get a whole series of Democratic hacks delivering the news to us on ABC, NBC, and CBS.
LAMB: When we sat down before the cameras came on, you said I'm not going to talk about where I live because of stalkers.
And the reason I bring that up is that you are, as you know, confrontational and you say what you think and you're a public figure. Is it worth it to be stalked, and how much of that do you get?
COULTER: A lot, though since I have essentially submitted myself to my own private witness protection program, a little bit less, sure it's worth it. My hobby has become my life. I've the greatest life imaginable. I think I have a greater life than anyone in the universe in fact. I sleep until noon. I work in my underwear.
I'm my own boss. No one can fire me. The only people who could ever fire me are the American people. If they don't want to hear me anymore, if they don't buy my books, they don't read my columns, but other than that I don't have a boss. I'm happy all the time. I have a wonderful life. I love to have people come up to me and praise me and tell me I say the things that they can't say and it does, in fact, happen in places like L.A., Manhattan, not just America.
LAMB: But do people ever come up to you and to your face tell you exactly what they think of you?
COULTER: You mean say something nasty? The only time that's ever happened I kept my Walkman on, but I could sort of read his lips and it didn't look good.
LAMB: So when we see people coming after you on a television show, that's not really real? I mean after the lights go off, people are friends and...
COULTER: Almost always. There are a few exceptions to that.
LAMB: What was your reaction after your back and forth with Katie Couric?
COULTER: Oh she was very friendly. I mean she's a very pleasant person. She has a very appealing personality. If she weren't so appealing, it wouldn't matter what she says.
LAMB: Why did you call her an affable Eva Braun?
COULTER: Well, again it's described in the book, which is I had just quoted her giving a speech at the 92nd Street Y, in which she blamed the dragging death of James Byrd on conservative Christians. It's really one of the ugliest statements, I think, I cite in my book. I think that is self explanatory.
LAMB: Could you have done this book without Lexis Nexis?
COULTER: Though Google was also a great help, but no I spent many, many hours on Lexus and Google. It breaks my heart to think of what Joe McCarthy could have done if he had had Lexus Nexus and Google.
LAMB: We're over the limit and here is the cover of the book. Our guest has been Ann Coulter and the name of the book is "Slander, Liberal Lies about the American Right." Thank you very much.
Copyright National Cable Satellite Corporation 2002. Personal, noncommercial use of this transcript is permitted. No commercial, political or other use may be made of this transcript without the express permission of National Cable Satellite Corporation.