ABC Edits Out Coulter Zingers in Debate With Edwards

On Wednesday’s "Good Morning America," co-anchor Chris Cuomo portrayed the previous day’s on-air debate between Elizabeth Edwards and Ann Coulter as a one sided lecture from the ‘08 contender’s wife. The ABC program edited out or didn’t play either of Coulter’s best verbal barbs.

The conservative author’s zinger, that John Edwards’ use of her name to raise money is better "than giving $50,000 speeches to the poor," was bluntly cut out. And although GMA found time to play Mrs. Edwards’ denunciation of the conservative commentator as hateful, the program skipped over a retort by Coulter that described Mr. Edwards’ law practice as "bankrupting doctors by giving a shyster, Las Vegas routine."

In a related note, MSNBC’s "First Read" page now admits that the ambush by a 2008 candidate’s wife was a preplanned event between the network and the John Edwards campaign:

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.

And now, with MSNBC’s help, the Edwards ‘08 website is using the incident to promote the North Carolina Democrat.

A transcript of the segment, which aired at 7:17am on June 27, follows:

7am tease

Robin Roberts: "The politics of personal attacks erupts over the airwaves as Elizabeth Edwards takes on Ann Coulter, asking her to stop attacking her husband. We’ll hear the on-air debate."

7:17am

ABC Graphic: "Edwards vs. Coulter: Political Battle Over the Airwaves"

Chris Cuomo: "And we'll turn now to the politics of personal attacks. The conservative Ann Coulter, known for throwing verbal punches, last night, she was on the receiving end of a few in a fiery debate with Elizabeth Edwards, wife of presidential contender John Edwards, who challenged Coulter to pull the plug on personal attacks, attacks which flared up on this program. It started right here on GMA on Monday. Ann Coulter defending her earlier comments that many interpreted as a homosexual slur aimed at john Edwards. She says she was joking."

Ann Coulter: "I did not call John Edwards the F-word. I said I couldn’t talk about him because you could go into rehab for using that word. But about the same time, you know, Bill Maher was not joking and saying he wished Dick Cheney had been killed in a terrorist attack. So, I’ve learned my lesson. If I’m going to say anything about John Edwards in the future, I’ll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot."

Cuomo: "Then last night, appearing on Chris Matthews’ ‘Hardball,’ an incensed Elizabeth Edwards called in to challenge her."

Elizabeth Edwards: "I want to use the opportunity, which I don't get much because Ann and I don't hang out with the same people, to ask her bluntly to stop the personal attacks."

Coulter: "I don't have enough money. Okay so I made a joke, let's see, six months ago, and as you point out, they've been raising money off of it, for six months, since then."

Matthews: "But this is just yesterday morning, what you said about him."

Coulter: "I didn't say anything about him, actually, either time."

Edwards: "Ann, Ann you know that's not true. And, and once more, this has been going on for some time."

[At this point, GMA cuts this line and picks up the debate a few seconds later: Coulter: "I don't mind you trying to raise money. I mean it's better this than giving $50,000 speeches to the poor-"]

Coulter: "Stop writing your columns. Stop writing your books.'"

Edwards: "You had a column, you wrote a column several years ago-"

Matthews: "Ann, please."

Coulter: "Okay."

Edwards: "Which made, 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.'"

Coulter: "That's now three years ago."

Edwards: "This is not legitimate political dialogue. It debases political dialogue. It draws people away from the process. We can't have a debate about issues if you're using this kind of language."

Coulter responding to audience member: "Yeah why isn't John Edwards making this call?"

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

Cuomo: "And by the way, Coulter said if Mrs. Edwards were [sic] asking her to stop, the answer is no."

Roberts: "The answer is no. She was here, of course, Ann Coulter, earlier this week. Controversy follows her and you experienced that for yourself."

Cuomo: "It is one of the few interviews where I got criticized by Democrats and Republicans. Republicans said she called the President a nincompoop. You should have gone after her. Democrats said, ‘She went after Edwards. You should have gone after her.’"

Roberts: "Both sides."

Cuomo: "A lot of controversy."

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org