Joe Conason's Journal

More notes from a media book tour: What it's like to be ducked by Ann Coulter and avoided by Fox.

Published August 21, 2003 7:22PM (EDT)

Where's Ann?
As the Daily News reports today, Ann Coulter ducked a debate with me on CNBC's "Kudlow & Cramer" last night. Disappearing at the last minute, she blew off the producers, who had been so eager to book her with me that they changed the schedule at her request.

Originally, I was supposed to appear on the CNBC show this evening -- but everyone changed plans after Ann said she would be available only on Wednesday. Her rude cancellation forced the producers to find another conservative guest (amiable and urbane Moonie newspaper editor Tony Blankley) at the last minute.

She claimed that some kind of "business meeting" conflicted with the evening taping. How plausible was that excuse? Not many publishers or agents insist upon canceling a national TV appearance for the sake of an office chat. Maybe she didn't feel like talking about her idol Joe McCarthy's patriotic crusade on behalf of Nazi officers who had massacred American soldiers. Or maybe she wasn't up for discussing my book, which includes a few unflattering facts about her work. In any case, I believe we'll meet again someday -- and I won't run.

Fair and balanced: Their king-size lie
Coulter isn't alone in avoiding me. The entire Fox News Network seems to be shutting me out, according to my indefatigable publicist, who has been calling them for weeks. As far as I can tell, MSNBC, CNBC , CNN and C-SPAN will all host me to discuss "Big Lies." Talk-radio hosts of all persuasions are graciously offering airtime. I haven't had much time to do anything else this week (like write about the news). But the Fox programmers have uniformly said no or failed to respond.

That's quite strange, because I have appeared on Fox several times during the past five years, including a guest shot on "Hannity & Colmes" to talk about my previous book.

Was it something I wrote? Well, I linked to that video of Al Franken administering discipline to Bill O'Reilly in L.A. But I don't even bother to mention O'Reilly in my book. I quote Andrew Sullivan mocking Roger Ailes for posing as a newsman, but I don't mention any of the really embarrassing material available about Ailes and his master Murdoch. Actually, I've always gotten along quite well with Roger, despite our ideological differences.

The truth is that I don't really need to appear on Fox to sell books. Their audience isn't likely to buy many copies of "Big Lies." And I have better things to do than listen to O'Reilly scream "Shut up!" when he's losing the argument. But I would have visited their little spin-zone on Sixth Avenue just for the hell of it. Too bad they don't really like a fair (and balanced) fight.

Meanwhile, I'll appear on MSNBC with Lester Holt at around 5:45 p.m. Eastern and later on "Scarborough Country," which airs at 10 p.m. Eastern -- subject to change as always. I don't think Joe Scarborough will duck.
[2:30 p.m. PDT, August 21, 2003]

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By Salon Staff

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