It'll be busy at MRC this morning, as both ABC and NBC played up Elizabeth Edwards dressing down Ann Coulter by phone on "Hardball" last night. (Matthews trashed Coulter as a "Today" guest this morning. More to come.) Wire services like AP and newspapers like The Washington Post are on the story today, but several important elements are missing from this story. None seem to question the ethics of MSNBC staging this unusual telephone sneak attack on Coulter.
More importantly, no one seems to be questioning Elizabeth Edwards attacking Coulter for the "language of hate" when the Edwards campaign hired Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan as official bloggers, who attacked "Christofascists," smeared Pope Benedict as a dictator, and mocked the core doctrines of Christianity as excuses for misogyny. Mrs. Edwards was a player in hiring those feminist bloggers and their language of hate. Why is the liberal media ignoring the pot calling the kettle black?
"Elizabeth Edwards, ever her husband's most aggressive defender, called in to MSNBC's 'Hardball' yesterday to admonish conservative commentator Ann Coulter for using 'the language of hate' to attack former senator John Edwards," wrote the Post's Anne Kornblut in a brief "Politics" item on page A-4. But back in February, the Washington Post soft-soaped it, obscuring the Edwards bloggers' hate quotes, which make it easier for people to forget the outrage these far-left bloggers stoked among religious people. Brent Bozell noted the wider media pooh-poohing here.
This Edwards call-in stunt by MSNBC reminded several of the more seasoned analysts among us to recall the last Friday night before the 1992 election, when President Bush was on CNN's Larry King Live, and then-Clinton campaign staffer George Stephanopoulos called in to fight with him. After the election, ABC provided more detail, as I wrote in Pattern of Deception about the night ABC actually explored charges of bias in the 1992 campaign -- after the Democrats won:
Viewers also complained to ABC about Clinton flack George Stephanopoulos' manipulated call-in to President Bush on CNN's Larry King Live the Friday night before the election as a political dirty trick. the call allowed Stephanopoulos to underline the news of that day: that Iran-Contra independent counsel Lawrence Walsh indicted Reagan defense secretary Caspar Weinberger just four days before Americans went to the polls. King explained it away to ABC as a "random" call. Not so, [ABC reporter Judd] Rose pointed out: Stephanopoulos had called the CNN control room to get special access, and producers made sure he got on the program to challenge Bush's honesty.