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Arianna Huffington Outmaneuvers Ann Coulter And Sean Hannity. She’s A Top Dog!

Reported by Ellen - February 21, 2006

Arianna Huffington teamed up with Alan Colmes last night (2/20/06) and finally delivered the Hannity & Colmes moment I have been waiting for: confronting Ann Coulter on her hate-speech and confronting Sean Hannity for not distancing himself from it. That, plus Huffington’s deft control of the conversation while maneuvering around Hannity’s gotcha questions, earned her our best in show ribbon.

In a clever effort to address the Dick Cheney controversy without talking about Dick Cheney, Hannity & Colmes framed the discussion with Huffington and Coulter around Alec Baldwin’s comments about Cheney on Huffingtonpost.com.

In what I erroneously thought was a bad omen of things to come, Alan Colmes opened the discussion with Huffington by focusing on Baldwin. "Was (Alec Baldwin) over the top... does that put liberals in a good light?"

Huffington adroitly maneuvered the focus right back to Cheney by saying he has “inflamed terrorism" and that "he has created more terrorists than he has ever destroyed and that's a damning enough statement."

Colmes brought the focus back to Baldwin. “Rather than focus on the issues, (Baldwin’s comments) give enough rope to someone like Ann Coulter to say, 'you liberals. This is the way you liberals think.’ This defines what liberals are like."

Boombox” Coulter sat with glassy eyes and a goofy smile that grew even goofier as Colmes mentioned her name. She leaned toward Colmes (who did not lean toward her) in one of her habitually childish attempts at flirting with Colmes.

In fact, the 44 year-old Coulter looked a little haggard and long in the tooth as she said that Cheney’s “bumbling” ended up making the Democrats look bad. “Liberals so hysterically over-react," she declared glibly.

I almost screamed at my TV when Colmes didn’t challenge that remark, especially coming from someone who would have no career at all were it not for her own over-reactive hysteria. Instead, he patiently explained that Republicans as well as Democrats have criticized the way Cheney handled the incident.

Arianna summed it up perfectly. "The bottom line is that this story became a metaphor for the way this administration has handled much more serious issues - for the secrecy, the stonewalling, the refusal to level with the American people…This was not just liberals, this was conservatives, this was across the board."

Hannity broke in to say "Arianna, you're making a mountain out of a molehill." Then he began a harangue about the really important news of the day: Alec Baldwin. Hannity’s voice was heavy with Hanctimony. “I’m asking, do you want Alec Baldwin on your website to call OUR Vice President a terrorist?

Huffington stuck to her guns (pun intended). “The bottom line is that what Alec Baldwin was saying is that this administration’s follies have inflamed terrorists.”

Hannity’s voice got louder as his attempt to change the subject was foiled. He demanded to know if Huffington was proud of what Baldwin wrote.

But canny Huffington didn’t allow the gotcha question to take her off message. She quickly answered that she didn’t have to agree with everything written on her website. “The bottom line, though, is that the essence of what he’s saying is that this administration’s policies have made us less safe, they have inflamed terrorism everywhere in the world. Even Don Rumsfeld said that.”

Poor Hannity! Unable to rattle Huffington, his only recourse was to attack Democrats. Turning to Coulter, Hannity called Democrats unhinged appeasers with a pre 9/11 mentality, weak on national security. Coulter nodded with glee while they both conveniently overlooked Bush’s recent decision to outsource the operation of six major ports to the United Arab Emirates, a country with troubling ties to terrorism.

“(Democrats) do have affection for these terrorists,” Coulter quipped.

“Oh, please.” Colmes interrupted in a tone that was clearly not amused by her wit and which immediately redeemed him from any and all disappointments earlier in the segment.

“It seems you’ve become unglued in this hatred you have for the president,” Hannity condescendingly told Huffington.

Huffington immediately threw a Hannity question right back at him. “Do you agree with your guest, Ann – do you agree that Democrats have an affection for terrorists? … Yes or no?”

Coulter, an ostentatious cross dangling from her neck, said with un-Christian delight, “I’ll cite examples. I’m ready to back that up.” However, as is usually the case with Coulter, she was unable to make a coherent argument when challenged. Democrats should do it more often. This time she gave some half-baked jibes about Robert Wright’s editorial in the New York Times, in which he expressed sympathy for the Muslim rioters. “Everybody wants to be black… This is affection for the people rioting and carrying on.”

“No, it’s not,” Colmes said.

Huffington cleverly put Coulter and Hannity back in the hot seat. “You’re just completely exaggerating what Robert Wright wrote in the column and Sean is not backing you up.”

After the break, Hannity harped on Baldwin again. Huffington, without losing her composure responded, “How many times are you going to say that? Would you like to go through a litany of the toxic statements made by your other guest, Ann Coulter, with which I’m sure you don’t agree? You know what? For you to be suddenly so, so, so hypersensitive about what Alec Baldwin said when you’ve allowed Ann Coulter to be on your show and say things that are so unbelievably toxic... Sending liberals to Guantanamo, having televised torture, sending Daisy Cutters to the Middle East… And I have not seen you distancing yourself from these toxic and (unintelligible) statements.”

Coulter giggled like a schoolgirl at the attention.

Hannity, another conservative more adept at bullying than debate, launched into another attack on the “unhinged” Democrats – Gore, Pelosi, Dean, etc.

Huffington gave it right back to him. She rattled off a list of Republicans distancing themselves from the Bush Administration – Walter Jones, Chuck Hagel, Pat Buchanan, etc. “This is, unfortunately, the kind of friendly fire that this administration is getting while at the same time being defended by the likes of Ann Coulter and the horror show of Mary Matalin on Meet The Press yesterday which clearly could not have done the Vice President any good.”

Then Alan Colmes confronted Coulter, too. He asked how her comments such as “Democrats are sympathetic to terrorists” are any different “in the level of extremism than what you’re criticizing?... That’s as extreme and as wrong-headed as what you’re accusing Alec Baldwin of doing.”

Coulter was obviously nonplused by the question. Finally, she mustered up a lame response. “Because I can back mine up.”

“You haven’t backed it up,” Colmes told her.

“Wh, wha, what the New York Times is promoting here.” She rattled off something incomprehensible about “Muslim’s bi-polar rage over some cartoons.” Then, complaining that she thought she was supposed to be discussing Osama Bin Laden, she treated the audience to some of her clever remarks that she had obviously prepared in advance. “He’s tougher on Sadaam Hussein than liberals are! …Liberals haven’t gotten to that stage yet.” Then the same woman who recently bought a house in Democratic-majority Palm Beach County for $1.8 million, tried to pass herself as a heartlander. “I will say the one great thing about the Dick Cheney accident is it’s so adorable watching Democrats pretend they know something about hunting. THAT’S been a hoot.”

Colmes said, “I thought the great thing about the hunting accident is that Dick Cheney finally got some combat experience.”

Crooks and Liars has the video.

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