Ann Coulter and Time Magazine
By Samuel L. Blumenfeld
When I saw the April 25th cover of Time, I thought that the magazine's profile would be a demonization of Ann Coulter. I imagine the photographer, editors, and writer of the article brain-stormed over what kind of picture they wanted of "this conservative flamethrower" on their front cover. The picture they came up with suggests something Satanic. She is seated on a black leather Barcelona chair, designed by the great Mies Van der Rohe. She is wearing a black mini dress exposing her gorgeous white legs, her feet in black pointed shoes that dominate the picture because of the angle at which it was taken. It's a spellbinder.
The caption reads: "Ann Coulter. Ms. Right. Fair and balanced she isn't. [I disagree. She is exceptionally fair and balanced.] This conservative flamethrower enrages the left and delights the right. Is she serious or just having fun?"
Of course she's serious. That's why she is so successful as a writer and intellectual. She makes Susan Sontag look like a deflated Marxist souffle. John Cloud, author of the Profile, promises to reveal the real Ann Coulter. The huge front-face picture on the opening page of the article is extraordinary. Again, what is Time trying to tell us with this picture? It is a powerful picture perhaps calculated to impress us with the dynamic power of Ann Coulter.
In the cover picture she looks straight ahead with a very slight smile reminiscent of the Mona Lisa. In the article photo, her whole beautiful face stares out at you. It made me think of Rasputin, the Czarina's hypnotic priest. Was that what it was intended to do?
Cloud begins the article in a restaurant where he and Ann are imbibing a bottle of white Bordeaux. Obviously, he was trying to get her loose enough so that she would say some outrageous things. But he confesses that in person Coulton "is more likely to offer jokes than fury."
You can be sure that Ann was aware of what Time could do to her. In her book, Slander, she wrote of how the liberal American media totally ignored Phyllis Schlafly even though she was a brilliant intellect and had single-handedly defeated the Equal Rights Amendment, which derailed the left's sexual revolution. She wrote, "There is a raw '1984' blackout quality to the media's ideological refusal to acknowledge Schlafly while posting endless tributes to worthless feminist nothings." I don't recall Time ever doing a profile of Phyllis Schlafly.
So why did Time decide to do a front-cover profile of Ann Coulter? Probably because there is no one on the Left who is interesting enough. How many profiles can you do of Hillary Rodham Clinton and keep your readership? The print media are experiencing a sharp decline in readers of newspapers and magazines. Did Time think that a profile of Coulter would boost circulation? You can be sure that every conservative in America will buy this issue of Time. And they may even buy future issues if Time does profiles of Joseph Farah, Michael Savage, Sean Hannity, Matt Drudge, and other right-wing flamethrowers.
After reading the article I came away with the impression that Ann had bowled over Mr. Cloud. He had expected her to be some "umbrageous harridan"—shady or easily offended nasty old woman—but she turned out to be far more "labile" [unstable, changing?] and human. Cloud certainly has a way with words. But what comes through is a view of Ann as somewhat larger than life.
Cloud asked, "Why does she make so many people itch?" His answer was surprising: "Coulter is more like Clare Boothe Luce, the wife of this magazine's co-founder, who rankled the Roosevelt establishment in the ‘40s with her take-no-prisoners opposition to the New Deal and communism." And, of course, there is Coulter's physical aura which Clare Boothe Luce lacked. "The combination of hard-charging righteousness and willowy, sex-kitten pulchritude is vertiginous and—for her many young male fans—intoxicating."
There was nothing in the article that could possibly convert a liberal. But there was enough to bring to Coulter's side those uncommitted types, who needed an article like this to give them a jolt. Cloud tried to be as critical as ever, obviously to satisfy the Democrats among the editorial staff. But in the end, the most he could say is that "On TV or in person, you can trust that Coulter will speak from her heart." That line alone is guaranteed to get Coulter more speaking engagements. Not bad for Time magazine!
Samuel L. Blumenfeld is the author of eight books on education, including, "Alpha-Phonics: A Primer for Beginning Readers," "The Whole Language/OBE Fraud," and "Homeschooling: A Parents Guide to Teaching Children." These books are available on Amazon.com.
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