ABC Links Edwards/Coulter Call to '08 Fundraising Deadline, NBC Distorts Coulter

On Wednesday evening, ABC's World News with Charles Gibson and the NBC Nightly News both covered the Elizabeth Edwards/Ann Coulter controversy, noting that the Edwards campaign has eagerly used their run-ins with Coulter to raise campaign money. ABC's Jake Tapper uniquely noted this week's fundraising deadline for the presidential race, while relaying the Edwards campaign's success at raising "Coulter cash." Tapper: "Just as Coulter has a book to promote this week, Edwards has a fund-raising deadline. Enemies can have their uses."

NBC's David Gregory noted the Edwards campaign's immediate use of yesterday's flap to solicit campaign money, but the network also failed to put one of Coulter's controversial quotes in proper context, thus making it appear worse than it actually sounded in full. On Monday's Good Morning America, while answering a question about her joke from last March about John Edwards being a "faggot," Coulter suggested there was a double standard between the outrage over her remark and the greater tolerance by the media and liberals of a question by Bill Maher about whether the world would be a better place if Vice President Cheney had been assassinated. (Transcripts follow)

Coulter's original comment from Monday's GMA: "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."

But NBC's Gregory only showed the most provocative part of her statement, not conveying that her intent was to chastize those who tolerated Maher's comments. The shortened version run by NBC: "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."

Below is a complete transcript of Jake Tapper's report from the June 27 World News with Charles Gibson, followed by a complete transcript of David Gregory's report from the June 27 NBC Nightly News:

From the Wednesday June 27 World News with Charles Gibson:

CHARLES GIBSON, before commercial break: Still ahead on this broadcast, the verbal smackdown between the wife of a presidential candidate and an incendiary columnist. It can be so useful in politics to have enemies.
...

GIBSON: There has been a lot of talk about bringing civility back to the political arena. At times, that seems to be a rather quaint notion. Last night, Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, phoned a talk show to demand that conservative commentator Ann Coulter stop attacking her husband in bitter, personal derogatory terms. As our Jake Tapper reports, both sides then tried to use the confrontation to their own benefit.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, Hardball Host: Elizabeth Edwards, go on the line. You're on the line with Ann Coulter.

JAKE TAPPER: Elizabeth Edwards asked Ann Coulter to stop the personal attacks.

ELIZABETH EDWARDS: 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.

Male voice from the audience: Why isn't John Edwards making this call?

ANN COULTER: Yeah, why isn't John Edwards making this call?

MATTHEWS: Well, do you want to respond? We'll end this conversation.

ELIZABETH EDWARDS: I haven't talked to John about this call.

COULTER: I think this is just another attempt for a-

TAPPER: Earlier this year, Coulter had used an anti-gay slur to mock John Edwards.

COULTER, giving a speech at CPAC: You have to go into rehab if you use the word "faggot," so I'm kind of at an impasse. Can't really talk about Edwards.

TAPPER: Edwards condemned her, using the controversy to try to project strength and rally the liberal base. His campaign e-mailed out a video of her comments, raising $300,000 of so-called "Coulter cash" for his campaign. The best-selling author has carved out a niche for herself in the culture, using a knife of cruelty and hyperbole, such as in a column in which Coulter accuses Edwards of exploiting the loss of his son, Wade, in 1996, joking he had a bumper sticker saying, quote, "Ask me about my son's death in a horrific car accident."

ELIZABETH EDWARDS: I'm the mother of that boy who died. 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.

COULTER: I think we heard all we need to hear. The wife of a presidential candidate is asking me to stop speaking. No.

TAPPER: Today came an Elizabeth Edwards e-mail, raising more Coulter cash. Campaigning in Texas, her husband says he's proud.

JOHN EDWARDS: We're saying to other Americans, good people who believe the same thing, you can join us in this. Your voice needs to be heard. You can participate in it. You can contribute to it.

TAPPER: Just as Coulter has a book to promote this week, Edwards has a fund-raising deadline. Enemies can have their uses. Jake Tapper, ABC News, Washington.

From the Wednesday June 27 NBC Nightly News:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: As we said a minute ago, it happened on live television on an afternoon political cable show, and it quickly became the shot heard around the airwaves that both sides are still talking about tonight. Elizabeth Edwards, wife of the Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, confronted the controversial author Ann Coulter. Here is NBC's David Gregory.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, Hosting the June 26 Hardball on MSNBC: Elizabeth Edwards, go on the line. You're on the line with Ann Coulter.

DAVID GREGORY: It was a telephone call into an afternoon cable show, but it wasn't just any caller. Elizabeth Edwards and Ann Coulter at each other's throats over cut-throat politics.

ANN COULTER, from the June 26 Hardball: Don't talk to me about how to use language.

MATTHEWS: Elizabeth?

ELIZABETH EDWARDS, by phone: That language is hate.

GREGORY: Coulter, the conservative firebrand, has sharply attacked John Edwards for years, accusing him of exploiting the death of his son. Monday on ABC she took another shot, saying she would no longer attack Edwards by suggesting he's gay.

COULTER, from the June 25 Good Morning America: 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.

GREGORY: Mrs. Edwards called in to MSNBC's Hardball to say enough is enough.

EDWARDS: 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.

COULTER: I think we heard all we need to hear. The wife of a presidential candidate is asking me to stop speaking. No.

MATTHEWS: No, she said you should stop being so negative to people individually.

GREGORY: The exchange may have been spontaneous, but the Edwards campaign made a calculated effort to confront Coulter, and, after the television showdown, posted a fundraising letter on its Web site, saying, quote, "John's campaign is about the issues -- but pundits like Ann Coulter are trying to shout him down. It's up to us to cut through the noise. Help us fight back." Today, Senator Edwards defended the fundraising pitch.

JOHN EDWARDS: Well, I think, first of all, it's important to understand that Ann Coulter started this. We didn't have any control over her saying the hateful things she said in the last couple of days.

GREGORY: This issue has lit up cable television and the blogosphere today, but it's also a reminder of what so many Americans so dislike about politics. David Gregory, NBC News, the White House.