Post-Coulter Rewind: How Were Bush-Bashing Widows Promoted by TV News?

In the wake of the Ann Coulter interview on Tuesday's "Today" -- specifically the part where Matt Lauer simply couldn't believe Coulter's attacks on 9-11 widows channeling their grief into anti-Bush attacks on TV news shows -- here are a few reminders of how the Kristen Breitweisers of the world (who endorsed John Kerry in the fall) were given the lion's share of attention by network hosts like Matt Lauer.

An MRC study of relatives on the morning news shows found the disparity of anti-Bush victim relatives to pro-Bush relatives was 20 to 3. (The report concluded, "These relatives are entitled to their views, of course. But network viewers are entitled to a little balance, too.")

A week earlier, it was already obvious Breitweiser was doing election-year publicity against Bush:

On this morning’s Today and for multiple segments in a 90-minute post-Condi Hardball special on MSNBC, only four widows were singled out as judges of Rice’s testimony. The four were celebrated in the April 1 New York Times as “nonpolitical.” NBC has emphasized Kristen Breitweiser, who has appeared in four Today interviews in four weeks.

    Mrs. Breitweiser insists that she voted for Bush in 2000, but has wildly declared that “Three thousand people were murdered on Bush's watch.” Times arts editor Frank Rich also noted how she tartly complained that a Showtime 9-11 docudrama failed to display President Bush reading to school children “while people like my husband were burning alive inside the World Trade Center towers” because it would have been contrary to “Karl Rove’s art direction and grand vision.” She’s hardly “nonpolitical.”

At the time, Brent Bozell noted that part of the unfairness was that networks like NBC never discovered widow/experts to rail against the failures of Clinton against terrorist attacks:

Meanwhile, a Nexis search quickly shows that NBC has aired no news story with the words "widow" and the U.S.S. Cole, where terrorists killed 17 Americans in 2000. NBC aired no news story with the words "widow" and the embassy in Kenya, where terrorists killed 12 Americans in 1998. NBC aired no news story with the words "widow" and the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, where terrorists killed 19 Americans in 1996. These grieving families have never been given a nationwide TV platform on NBC to express their opinions on how the Clinton administration handled investigations of those incidents.

When Breitweiser appeared in Kerry ads in October 2004 and traveled the country with the Kerry campaign, Brent Baker reported in the CyberAlert that CBS pretended she was just a random voter in Ohio, instead of a valued campaign spokesperson.

Even in December of 2004, as the widows reprised their act, Bozell revealed the networks couldn't notice that Breitweiser & Co. signed up for the Kerry campaign.

CNSNews.com has its own interview with Coulter on her new book: She tells Randy Hall that abortion is the "virgin sacrifice" of the liberal "religion" she describes in her new book, "Godless."

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis