Coulter’s back in the hot seat

Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Jewish leaders condemned conservative commentator Ann Coulter on Friday for her comments this week that Jews need to be “perfected,” denouncing her remarks as the rationale behind two millenniums of anti-Semitism.

The assertion by the controversial pundit that Jews are inferior unless they convert to Christianity alarmed Jewish organizations and put the television networks that give Coulter a platform in an awkward position.

Coulter, a frequent guest on cable outlets such as MSNBC and Fox News, has also made appearances this year on the network morning shows “Today” and “Good Morning America” to promote her books. According to a compilation by Media Matters for America, a liberal watchdog group, she’s been interviewed on national television almost every day this month.


The National Jewish Democratic Council this week called on the media to withhold future invitations to Coulter, whose inflammatory comments the group said “often border on hate speech.”

Coulter could not be reached for comment.

As of Friday afternoon, none of the network news divisions or cable channels said they would keep her off the air. But they moved to distance themselves from the right-wing author, even as they defended her right to free speech.

“The decision to put someone like Ann Coulter on our air is not one we would ever take lightly,” said NBC News spokesman Allison Gollust. “However, when you talk about banning someone from the airwaves because of their views -- whatever they may be -- you are getting into dangerous territory.”

ABC News spokesman Jeffrey Schneider said the network has “to cover the news, so it’s nearly impossible to say you won’t ever have someone on. That said, we certainly don’t have any plans to have her on.”

CBS News also does not plan to interview Coulter in the near future, although spokeswoman Sandy Genelius added, “It seems as though no news organization could justifiably say ‘never.’ ”

Fox News did not rule out having her on as a guest again, but a network executive said if she came on she would be pressed about her statements. A CNN spokeswoman said bookings are left up to each show’s producer.

The latest furor erupted over an exchange Coulter had Monday with CNBC host Donny Deutsch on his show, “The Big Idea,” during which she said the country would be better off if everyone were Christian. When Deutsch -- who is Jewish -- asked if she wanted to get rid of Judaism, Coulter responded, “We just want Jews to be perfected.”

Deutsch said he was offended by her comments, which were denounced by the Anti-Defamation League, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), among others.

“Coulter’s remarks are outrageous, offensive and a throwback to the centuries-old teaching of contempt for Jews and Judaism,” the ADL said in a statement.