I’m fairly certain if I were to submit a manuscript titled, “Ann Coulter Is Destroying America” I’d have a six figure book deal tomorrow; such is the public fascination, or alternatively horror, with the what-will-she-say-next shtick that Coulter’s been playing in the media to promote her new book, ‘Godless’.
David Carr, in The New York Times, looks at the current controversy in light of his previous article on Coulter, noting the transfixing dichotomy between the package and the message.
Coulter’s act, as we’ve previously noted, is the same kind of over-the-top, calculated, “look at me” stuff we’ve seen here previously from Al Franken. I’ve been in close quarters with both on several occasions and witnessed their blow-ups. While Franken tends toward fist pounding and finger pointing, Coulter tends to stick with verbal carpet bombing; both designed to leave the audience questioning whether their eyes and ears are playing tricks on them – they didn’t really say (or do) that, did they?
As professional provocateurs, both are cagey enough to measure the level of shock, outrage, or hysteria, in direct proportion to the quantity (and quality) of cameras and microphones nearby. What good is meltdown without media coverage?
In the world on television punditry sanity and factuality aren’t prerequisites for longevity, case in point Maureen Dowd. Still it is possible to be cast off the talk circuit reservation, though the number of transgressions that would qualify one for banishment seems to be ever shrinking.
That’s where a report from liberal blogger The Rude Pundit comes in. They note that in the first chapter to Coulter’s new book “Godless,” there are two suspicious selections:
- Coulter: The massive Dickey-Lincoln Dam, a $227 million hydroelectric project proposed on upper St. John River in Maine, was halted by the discovery of the Furbish lousewort, a plant previously believed to be extinct.
Portland Press Herald: The massive Dickey-Lincoln Dam, a $227 million hydroelectric project proposed on upper St. John River, is halted by the discovery of the Furbish lousewort, a plant believed to be extinct.
Coulter: A few years after oil drilling began in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, a saboteur set off an explosion blowing a hole in the pipeline and releasing an estimated 550,000 gallons of oil.
The History Channel: The only major oil spill on land occurred when an unknown saboteur blew a hole in the pipe near Fairbanks, and 550,000 gallons of oil spilled onto the ground.
Assuming what The Rude Pundit says about lack of sourcing is correct, the fist selection, on the face of it, sure looks like plagiarism. The second selection is somewhat less convincing, though the use of the word saboteur seems too be a bit too forced in this particular instance to be mere coincidence.
So is Coulter a plagiarist? At this point no, but there’s a whole book to look through, which I suspect the legions of those who despise Coulter are organizing for right this very moment. Were they to put together a formidable collection of cribbed quotes Coulter’s career would be over, since when it comes to publishing plagiarism is the scarlet letter.
With a prize like that you can bet the left side of the blogosphere will working overtime on this…