Video: Where's the civility?

By Mike Taibbi Correspondent
NBC News
updated 6/7/2006 7:52:09 PM ET 2006-06-07T23:52:09

Conservative pundit Ann Coulter was front page news Wednesday for what she's writtenabout some 9/11 widows:

"These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities," writes Coulter.

She's also under fire for what she said Tuesday in an interview with the "Today" show's Matt Lauer.

"If you lose a husband, you no longer have the right to have a political point of view?" asked Lauer.

"No, but don't use the fact that you lost a husband as the basis for your being able to talk about it," Coulter responded.

Coulter was on the "Today" show to push her latest anti-liberal book, "Godless: The Church of Liberalism," already an Amazon.com best seller.

But the interview kept returning to Coulter's attacks on the 9/11 widows. She called them "harpies" and wondered in print whether their husbands had been planning to divorce them.

A statement from four of the widows says: "There was no joy in watching men that we loved burn alive. There was no happiness in telling our children that their fathers were never coming home again. We adored these men and miss them every day."

Coulter says she believes everything she says and writes, but has she gone too far?

"It's the ugliness of the charge that she's making and the ugliness of the words she's using that are drawing attention to her, but it's almost like she’s a figure in a circus and you say, 'Oh my God, can you believe that?'" says former White House adviser David Gergen.

Still, the tempest was a trigger for a red/blue debate on MSNBC TV with criticism for Coulter from both sides.

"I think it was shameful what she said, Chris, but I think these widows have attacked President Bush," Dom Giordano, a conservative talk show host with radio station WPHT, told "Hardball's" Chris Matthews.

"I think she’s a sad, pathetic, unhappy person," said liberal counter-voice Sam Greenfield, a talk show host with radio station WWRL.

All of it fallout from a television exchange likely to be remembered well beyond the impact of a few ill-tempered sentences in print.

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