Ann Coulter’s New Job

What do you think Ann Coulter does for a living? Political pundit? Conservative commentator? I’ll grant you, both of these, on the surface, would appear to be true. But let’s call her what she is —an entertainer. Ann Coulter is in the entertainment business. Her job is to entertain you. She doesn’t intend to inform you, educate you or even provoke thought. Her job is to entertain you. For many years, she has done this well, by giving voice to some of those deep-seated feelings some people have but are smart enough not to give voice to in public. She has captured the attention of this country as someone who speaks for Reds or against Blues and Americans who know of her either love her or her. Her popularity stems from perpetuating differences between people, from creating tension and polarizing the public. And, to her credit, she has done this so well and with such conviction and perceived legitimacy that she has been taken seriously and deemed a reliable and credible source of Republican ideology. This shouldn’t surprise us, though; maintaining credibility and apparent legitimacy were vital to her continued rise. She needed to be thought of as a credible source of doctrine to fuel demand for her opinion so that she could increase the number of venues in which to share such opinions and thus increase her own revenue. Her business is herself. Ann Coulter is the product Ann Coulter is selling. And her marketing plan has been to constantly hold the line between credibility and controversy. I have no inherent problem with this. I, too, am in the process of marketing myself. My opinions and my radio show are my product and I am trying to increase awareness of them. Authors, actors, TV and radio personalities all seek to increase awareness of themselves so that the public at large wants to see, hear or read them. However, there are many ways to accomplish this. Most choose the way of the tortoise—build a marketable product and slowly build on each success until an empire is created. Others choose a more sensational approach to creating awareness of themselves. Michelle Manhart, the former Air Force Sergeant turned Playboy bunny is choosing this route right now. Madonna is the poster child for personal marketing through sensational means. This sensational approach is phenomenally effective in America and may be the more profitable of the two tactics. However, the sensational approach almost never comes with credibility and legitimacy. Ann Coulter, for years has been able to walk the line between the two schools. She has been successful at slowly building her brand but she has also thrown in bits of sensationalism in order to accelerate brand awareness—to take advantage of the public attention that comes from being outrageous. In fact, she has been so good at maintaining legitimacy that she frequently appears on CNN and other national programs to speak on behalf of Republicans. Furthermore, this year she was invited to speak at the 2007 Conservative Political Action Conference. Such invitations don’t often go to individuals who lack credibility. And then she said this: “I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards, but it turns out that you have to go into rehab if you use the word ‘######,’ so I’m – so, kind of at an impasse, can’t really talk about Edwards, so I think I’ll just conclude here and take your questions.” Can you see her walking the tight rope of her career and falling off right there? And in so doing, she has just changed jobs. Where the day before she was a political pundit and conservative commentator, or even to use her words, a polemicist (that’s a big word, Ann. I had to look it up. It means someone who engages in controversy or disputation), after her speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference she is now a political cartoonist. By choosing to be so outrageous, and don’t think for one second that this comment was “off the cuff” and not premeditated, she showed herself to be what she truly is—an attention-seeking, self-promoting, entertainer. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But she has shown her hand to the public and the public should no longer look to her for anything more valuable than a good laugh. She has become the political Gary Larson—providing witty repartee within the context of odd juxtapositions. Her discourse is now no more practical or pertinent than a horse-riding cowboy playing tuba. Her response on her web site about her comment? “I’m so ashamed, I can’t stop laughing.” I’m sure Ms. Coulter will continue to find a way to pay the bills, although, three newspapers have cancelled her column as a result of her comment. But if I was ever tempted to buy into any of her rhetoric as well thought-out discourse, now I know for certain that she only exists to entertain me. She has made that abundantly clear and the public has no option but to accept her resignation as “political pundit” and welcome her into the world of political cartoonists. So, welcome, Ann. You can’t stop laughing and neither can I. I’ll look for your next book in the Humor section of my local book store—don’t think I won’t, ’cause you’re nothing if not funny.

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Published in: on March 9, 2007 at 3:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

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