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CBS anchor Harry Smith tangles with Ann Coulter on "The Early Show"

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Conservative author Ann Coulter initially seemed pleased Tuesday to appear on CBS’ “The Early Show,” especially after an interview that she was set to do on NBC’s “Today” the same morning was canceled.

“You are the most brilliant person in the mainstream media, the most manly,” she told CBS anchor Harry Smith.

But by the end of the segment, she was no longer lavishing compliments on Smith, who aggressively confronted the controversial writer about the allegations in her latest book, “Guilty: Liberal ‘Victims’ and Their Assault on America.”

At one point, he suggested that she was crying victim herself and “should have a cross.”

“Here’s my problem,” Smith told Coulter at the outset. “Because you try to be funny, because you have this kind of sophomoric, sort of simplistic kind of view of so many things … who’s going to take you seriously?”

“I think any comedy writer will tell you that sophomoric is New York Times code for funny, so I thank you for that,” Coulter retorted.

Smith said afterward that he hadn’t planned for the interview to get contentious, noting that Coulter devotes much of her book to challenging the mainstream media.

“I was just going to challenge her back,” he said in an interview. “The thing is, there are things she says that have a real place in our ongoing political conversation in terms of issues of importance to everybody. The point I was trying to make to her was that if she was more serious, she would be taken more seriously.”

In an e-mail, Coulter said she was flattered by Smith's questioning. "He treated me like a Republican vice presidential candidate!" she wrote.

Their seven-minute exchange was the latest dust-up involving Coulter, a polarizing personality who is adept at generating attention for her bestselling books. On Monday, she cried foul when an appearance she was set to make on “Today” was canceled, telling Fox News’ Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes that NBC had only booked her as a “charade” to keep her from going on other shows.

NBC disputed that, saying that Coulter was bumped so the program could devote more time to covering the developments in the Gaza Strip, for which host Matt Lauer interviewed former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

“We’ve had Ann Coulter on ‘Today’ many times, but because of the news in Washington and the Middle East, we decided to cancel her appearance on Tuesday morning,” said NBC spokeswoman Megan Kopf. “Understanding the media as well as she does, we are sure she knows this happens from time to time.”

After Coulter’s complaints — and coverage on the Drudge Report, which reported that NBC had banned her for life, which the network denied — she was invited to appear on two segments of “Today” on Wednesday.

That adds up to a media bonanza for Coulter, who also appeared Tuesday on the Fox News morning program “Fox & Friends.” But it was her interview on “The Early Show” that has so far generated the most attention.

Smith, who is known for his even-keeled, affable demeanor, noted in his tease for the segment that Coulter called him “certifiably insane” in her book. “Perhaps I am, for having her on the program this morning,” he added.

In their interview, he objected to her criticizing him in her book for asking Sen. Edward M. Kennedy last year about whether Barack Obama was a target for assassination, saying, “That was a legitimate question to ask.”

When Coulter responded that all would-be or successful presidential assassins were “anarchists, communists, liberals, they were some form of basically Obama’s base,” Smith urged her five times to “take a breath.”

“I’m breathing fine,” she responded.

Smith said that as he read her book, “the more I kept thinking, well, you’re the whiner. You’re the one who’s claiming victimhood here.”

“You should put yourself up on a cross,” he added, extending his arms wide.

Later, Smith said he didn’t have any regrets about how he conducted the interview, but “I’m still not satisfied that we served any public good.”

“People sort of verbally wrestling with each other — you get a lot of heat and a lot of sweat, but I'm not sure there’s any particular satisfaction for either side,” he added.

— Matea Gold

Comments () | Archives (72)

I love the way Ann counters Harry"s personal opinion, that Obama is at higher risk than any president, with actual facts. "Statistics" she says. What does Harry have to counter with ? but to then either attack Ann or extend his dismissive / condescending view of her that he started out with. Great debate Harry - sarcasm intended. You were totally outclassed intellectually. Maybe next time you read her book you can prepare with logical counterpoints.

- Gerry

Thanks for that wonderful interview! I've never wanted to read any of Ann Coulters books but the way that Harry presented himself as some kind of concerned citizen, makes me consider Ann's view on the media. I hope he doesn't think that he taught anyone a lesson. Except maybe he should have a worthy cause to fight for. At least he had the b***s to put her on the air. Considering how she ran over him the way she did, I am betting that it won't happen again.

From: Laughing in Minnesota

I'm no fan of Ann Coulter, but the oft heard complaint of media bias came through quite clearly in this interview.

This could have been a good interview by Smith kept interrupting her so much and I think in an antagonizing demeanor. Frankly, if I were a writer, I would never consent to appear with him. As far as I'm concerned, this interview was doomed from the beginning by Smith and I bet he planned it this way. Way to go CBS.

Coulter is certainly controversial, as you accurately portray in this article, but your description of Smith as noted for his "affable demeanor" is only accurate when you describe his interviews with liberal guests. Surely, you have witnessed his arm-flailing, condescending interviews (much like his behavior with Coulter) with Republican and conservative guests.
You might want to take note of his temper and his lack of objectivity with some guests, and contrast that with his smiling face and idol-worship demeanor when he interviewed then presidential candidate Barrack Obama.

Coulter doesn't deserve a voice in the MSM. She's nothing but a hate-monger. Let's just cover the issues as fairly as possible, without bringing in the hyper-partisans.

I love Ann Coulter she's sharp as a tack - brillant, beautiful and funny. Sometimes all you can do is laugh at the sad state of affairs in this country.

I am not as verbally intellectual as the rest (see above),but I can say that I am glad that I heard the interview,and not let it go with what you wrote.
It's obvious where your allegiance's are(of course your guy Smith),however you missed plenty of poignant issues.
And good for her to not get defensive when Smith totally lost his composure when he raise his arms as a symbol of the cross.
Tell me,have you ever seen him "lose it " like this before?Ah with someone from the left.?To put it in perspective ,I have voted democrat almost all of my life.Been doing some reading,and listening to both sides(now that we have Fox news),and it has become so apparent the bias that goes on with you guys.
You should "shake" yourselves.

She's a loon, plain and simple. Saying that Tom Delay is some sort of victim of those mean liberals is just asinine. As are her "statistics" that fail to take into account hyper-rightwing nutjobs like Timothy McVeigh who killed how many in the Federal Building bombing. CBS should be ashamed for giving someone like her a soapbox from which to spew in order to sell her hate-speech.

Does that woman EVER stop talking? That was painful to watch.

Ann Coulter is a nasty, bitter hate monger. I often wonder if her persona on television is a character of Coulter's or if she is actually that way. If it is a character, then she is brilliant, if it is not, then she is insane.

Harry, she made you look like an idiot. Next time be prepared. Your one sided view of world events got old long ago. Thanks Ann, I will be purchasing your books.

Anne Coulter is brilliant and talks circles around anyone she encounters. NBC tries to counter her impact with Rachel Maddow. It's easy to be Rachel Maddow, nobody challenges her. I am an independent and see the bias so vividly, it's amazing.

So much for an even-keeled Harry Smith. His bias was so obvious. The whole cross thing was over the top. I applaud Ann for her composure with this sorry excuse for a journalist. I don't know how anyone can say there is no liberal bias in the media after watching this debacle. Shame on Smith and the Early Show for allowing this display.

Coulter never fails to "tell it like it is". She always says what other people are thinking. Strike another one up for Ann, she is awesome! Kick liberal butt Ann. The only people who don't like her are the ones who refuse to see the light and agree with her.

Once again Ann kicks a liberal to the sidewalk with her caustic, and factual, wit!

This is the reason the left so despises Ann, she exposes them for the whining hypocrites they truely are,


PS......i just bought 5 of your newest bestseller Ann, and am handing them out to family and friends.

Harry Smith thinks so highly of himself, he can't hear anyone else talk. He acts as if he thinks God should pray to him.

All I got to say Annie, is I Love You....great touche' ! :O)


Risa: Get off it. You are not 'independent' if you agree with Anne Coulter's views. That's like saying "I'm a total moderate and even I agree with the Green Party". If you think you can be 'independent' (unless of course, you mean you're registered in the American Independent Party, which makes you a radical right wing conservative) and agree with this lady, you obviously don't know right from left, which might explain why you think you're 'independent'.

To all of you who love Ann Coulter and think she is absolutely brilliant : Go to youtube and check out the video of her conversation with Donny Deutsch a couple years back on CNBC. THEN, come back and tell everyone here how marvelous you think she is. All anyone needs to know about Miss Coulter is contained in that discussion. It's hard to believe anyone actually holds such an assinine individual in such high regard. Go ahead...check out the video with Donny Deutsche.

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