Ann Coulter’s Declining Influence

Paul Waldman wonders “What Ever Happened to Ann Coulter?

Remember Ann Coulter? Seems like just yesterday she was Queen of the Right, the whole political world hanging on her every bile-laced tirade. Yet she’s all but disappeared.

Not that she isn’t trying. She’s still got her weekly column over at Human Events (latest entry: “Alvin Greene: The Most Qualified Democrat I Have Ever Seen” – Har har!). She still makes regular appearances on Fox, showing up to gab with Bill O’Reilly or Sean Hannity. But she seems to have completely lost her ability to move from the right-wing outlets into the mainstream discussion.

So what happened? First, her shtick just got old. “Ann Coulter said something offensive!” could only be big news so many times. After a while, it seemed like she was just trying to be outrageous for the sake of outrageousness. I’ll attack 9/11 widows! I’ll call Al Gore “a total fag”! Aren’t I outrageous! Look at me!!! After a while it ceased to be interesting.

But something else happened. These are boom times for the right. Certain political sectors thrive when their side is out of power, and commentary is one of them. Being on the outside, and being angry at those on the inside, can be invigorating. That’s why subscriptions to liberal magazines tend to go up when there’s a Republican in the White House, and subscriptions to conservative magazines go up when there’s a Democrat in the White House. But even though Barack Obama should have been great for Coulter, Inc., the right wing has passed her by. Her act seems somehow out of place. It’s not that there isn’t plenty of hate on the right, but Coulter’s hate was just pure venom, without much point to it. She had none of the crazy conspiracy theories that have become de rigueur. She shot out in all directions, while the people at the top of the heap now, like Glenn Beck, are convinced they are driven by a complex and coherent ideology, complete with a Founding Father fetishism that would sound insincere coming from Coulter.

With few exceptions, I’ve pretty much ignored broadcast media talking heads the last few years, paying attention only when something crosses into the blogospheric debate.   But my guess is that she’s spawned a cottage industry of imitators who are crazier, hotter, or both.   The number of beautiful 20-something conservative commentators vying for air time on FOX is high.  And most of them have mastered new media, whether it be Twitter or blogs.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Jeff says:

    That is an interesting guess.

    Care to name some of the 20-something conservative commentators who are crazier or hotter ? No … ??? maybe thats because this post is simply link bait … it looks like you are the one who is saying something crazy to get attention, from Daily Kos or Huffpo most likely …

    you see when someone pays you to write articles for an internet publication you don’t need your own blog … well and as far as Twitter … I think the name explains those that it appeals to …

  2. Steve Plunk says:

    Let me start by qualifying my statement regarding where Coulter went. She knows what her schitck is and has used it to make a ton of money. She’s outrageous, controversial, over the top, and at times offensive, but that sells books and gets you speaking fees. She wasn’t writing policy papers though I’m sure she could have. She had a role to fill and filled it well enough.

    So where she? Same places she has always been but liberals have found new targets for their wrath so Coulter isn’t mentioned much any more. Palin and Beck have taken her place. Funny thing is both of them understand the role they are now playing as lightning rods for liberal scorn and both of them are taking it to the bank. Once again these so called “party leaders” are anything but. They are figureheads cashing in while they can. Of course there’s nothing wrong with making an honest buck on the radio or lecture tour.

    Soon enough another ripe target will happen along and we’ll be saying “whatever happened to Sarah Palin” while her talk show flounders on Lifetime or HGTV. That doesn’t mean the message got old it just means you need lots of media attention to stay in the spotlight and attention comes from having enemies attacking you and making you more controversial than you really are.

    I don’t see this post as link bait but a chance to talk more in depth about this phenomenon of being a high profile political target in today’s world. It works both ways as conservatives have people like Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, and crazy Keith Olbermann. Unelected, controversial proxies for our arrows of discontent. They become the face of politics while the real leaders stay in the background. So when someone says Palin is the leader of the Republican party it’s not much different than saying Maddow is the leader of the Democratic party.

    And for whatever reason Coulter is still one hot skinny blond.

  3. Michael Reynolds says:

    Coulter is certainly more attractive than the usual drag queen. And I absolutely support “her” right to dress however she likes. But my personal tastes tend toward women who were natural-born women, though of course I in no way condemn the attraction some of you seem to have to Coulter. To each his/her own!

  4. John says:

    Here here Steve Plunk. People would rather be angry for the sake of anger than motivated by discontent to work towards something substantial. Why? Being incredulous takes very little energy, no intelligence, and rarely requires a follow up or follow through.

    Yes, Coulter, Beck, and Palin (along with Maddow and Olberman) will certainly become rich for their efforts but I cannot think of many policies they have successfully campaigned to amend for the betterment of their cause or the American public at large – the news cycle can’t wait that long.

  5. John says:

    BTW – “Founding Father fetishism” is my favorite phrase of the day today.

  6. mike says:

    she is an entertainer that is not getting attention – she really needs to stop talking and eat something – she scares me and not in a good way

  7. john personna says:

    Steve, when you defend people known to “bring the crazy” you aren’t really doing yourself any favors.

    (I”m sure you can name some left-crazies, and I’m sure I can decline to defend them.)

  8. drew says:

    Has anyone considered that she might not have been as influential as assumed, and that her MO just was more visibty reacted to by the left?

  9. Juneau: says:

    From the article:

    It’s not that there isn’t plenty of hate on the right, but Coulter’s hate was just pure venom, without much point to it.

    Sorry – you just struck out. Despite whether or not Coulter is losing exposure – or influence, if you want to equate the two – using such a categorical description of right wing talk shows or commentary is “showing your underwear in public.”

    Can someone who has deep access to the archives on OTB please show me an article written here which describes Pelosi’s Tea Party comparison to “Nazis” as being hateful? If Pelosi’s and Reid’s commentary has never been labeled as hateful by the authors here on OTB, then the “hateful” adjective in the article above turns the point of the article into a reflection of simple bias , not commentary.

  10. An Interested Party says:

    This isn’t so puzzling, really…all carny freakshows get passed by, eventually…oh, and Juneau, you are mistaken…

    …and before you might be tempted to ignore this evidence because of the source, try to find something in the article that is incorrect…

  11. Juneau: says:

    and before you might be tempted to ignore this evidence because of the source

    OK. So now I’ve asked for a previous source related to this blog and, specifically, the labeling of certain types of opinions as being “hateful.” You’ve responded, not by providing my request – which you would agree, I hope, was very specific to this blog and the above article- by citing a completely different source that you want to use in support of THIS blogs opinions and perceived bias.

    You try to answer my questions about the bias in this article by providing me with a source from an entirely different news commentary site. And this is related how, exactly?

    My point again is simply to state that categorizing only right wing rhetoric as hateful is really commentary only if you have a uniform standard. Because then, even if one does not agree, the author is consistent in what is considered “hateful” , regardless of the political leanings of the source. That would make the article an even-handed application of opinion. Lacking that, the comments are just bias expressing themselves as commentary.

  12. An Interested Party says:

    This isn’t so puzzling….carny freak shows eventually do get overlooked…and sorry, Juneau, but you are incorrect about Pelosi…oh, and before you might be tempted to dismiss the source, do find something in the link that is incorrect…

  13. An Interested Party says:

    Oops, didn’t see the earlier posting before, my mistake….

    Anyway, you characterized Pelosi as comparing Tea Partier to Nazis, and that is flat out untrue, so there doesn’t need to be any posts on this site labeling her comments as “hateful” as you are basing your question on a false pretense…

  14. Juneau: says:

    Anyway, you characterized Pelosi as comparing Tea Partier to Nazis, and that is flat out untrue…

    You are spinning the unspinnable. Pelosi is clear in her accusation, as follows:

    From Pelosi’s San Francisco Interview – “Pelosi: “I think they’re Astroturf… You be the judge. “They’re carrying swastikas and symbols like that to a town meeting on healthcare.”

    Will you now try and escape by pointing out that she didn’t actually say the word Nazi, therefore she didn’t really equate the tea partiers with Nazi’s? That would truly be denial on your part.

    Shall we get into similar statements made by other senior democratic leaders and administrative staff? You haven’t got a leg to stand on.

  15. An Interested Party says:

    Of course I do….what she said about the signs was true, as there is photographic proof, if you want to deny that, feel free to do so, as you appear to be in denial anyway…