Crackpot commentary

News Hits has finally discovered the secret to being a successful right-wing pundit: insanity.

This reality dawned on us last week as we read about the slur heaved at one-time Detroiter and Wayne State University graduate Helen Thomas, grand dame of the White House press corps. Doing the heaving was partisan hack Ann Coulter, who, as is often the case, was attempting to defend the indefensible.

This time out, Coulter was weighing in on the issue of James Guckert (aka Jeff Gannon), a fake reporter working for a phony news agency run by Republican Party operatives. Someone in the Bush administration allowed Guckert/Gannon to sidestep standard background checks by the FBI, providing him with press credentials for daily White House press briefings and presidential news conferences so that he could lob softballs, like the time he asked Bush how he could work with Democratic senators who “have divorced themselves from reality.”

After Guckert’s true identity was revealed, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-New York) wrote Bush to point out the obvious: “It appears that Mr. ‘Gannon’s’ presence in the White House was merely as a tool of propaganda for your administration.”

Following that and other well-justified criticism, Coulter, who writes a column distributed by Universal Press Syndicate, leaped to the administration’s defense, penning a piece that said, in part, “Press passes can’t be that hard to come by if the White House allows that old Arab Helen Thomas to sit within yards of the president.”

The comment never made it into papers, changed somewhere along the line to read, “that dyspeptic, old Helen Thomas.” But the line calling attention to Thomas’s ethnicity (she is the daughter of Lebanese immigrants) did appear in the version of the column posted on Coulter’s Web site.

To even remotely equate Guckert with Thomas — a columnist for Hearst Newspapers who began her newspaper career in the 1940s and has covered the White House since 1961 — shows just how divorced from reality Coulter is.

Last week Rep. John Dingell of Dearborn led a group of more than 20 House Democrats who protested Coulter’s slur by sending a letter to the president of Universal Press Syndicate. The missive rightly points out that “Ann Coulter and her ilk have done nothing but poison our political discourse with their vile, hate-filled harangues.”

The real comparison to be made in all of this is not between Thomas and Guckert, a guy who, according to reports, used the Web to advertise his services as a male “escort” before making his foray into faux journalism. No, the true bedfellows here are Guckert and Coulter, a true media whore who will say anything, no matter how insane, just to keep generating attention, and the bucks that come with it.

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