Page 47


AFTERWORD I BY ED NAWOTK A How Ann Coulter Nearly Killed My Father Irecently found out that I was denounced as a “liberal” in Ann Coulter’s soon-to-be remaindered collection of columns, How To Talk to A Liberal \(If You may have seen the book at your local bookstore, HEB, Target, or anywhere else books are sold these days. It’s hard to miss: Ann is standing in front of a chalkboard, hands on hips, and wearing a form-fitting blue leather bodice. It’s eye-catching, in a dominatrix/schoolmarm kind of way, and one wonders how the designer justified that choice of outfitone that Ann would not likely wear to a job interview, a congressional hearing, or even an appearance on The O’Reilly Factor. Ann’s outfit is relevant only because I was blissfully unaware that my name appears in the book until my brother-inlaw, an English teacher at a Jesuit academy in Houston, mentioned it to me. A friend of his, a Jesuit priest, had told him f 1, about my denunciation in Coulter’s book. What the priest was doing looking at the book is another story. Apparently, while waiting for someone, he picked up the book and idly flipped through the pages. When he got to page 200, he spotted my name. Why, in a book that no doubt contains an illus trious roster of more than a few hundred “liberal” targets, would this particular priest happen to take note of my name? Well, he was the man who performed my wedding ceremony. “Of course,” added my brother-in-law, our mutual friend claims no particular political affiliation and protested that he “never read those sorts of books.” I wonder what kind of books he meant exactly? Political, gossipy, slanted, pan dering books, or just books with political pundits posing in form fitting leather on the cover? \(Are there more out there that I don’t know at this point why Ann Coulter would take the time to out me as a liberal when there are so many bigger, more meaningful targets. Well, we have a history, you see. Late in 2003, when I was working as an editor for Publishers Weekly, the trade magazine for the book business, I conducted a Q&A interview with Al Franken that ran in an online newsletter that was sent to booksellers across the country. Franken’s book, Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right, was gaining traction at the time and it seemed an appropriate moment to talk to him. Franken lobbed a few criticisms at Ann during the interview, and shortly after the piece ran, Ann’s publicist wrote to say that Ann also wanted to be interviewed by Publishers Weekly in the interest of striking a political balance. While most of the booksellers I knew were yellow-dog Democrats, there were more than a few libertarians in the bunch, as well as the odd Republican or two. So, it seemed reasonable that I try to oblige her. At first, I tried to talk to her by phone, just as I did with Franken. No, the publicist replied. Ann doesn’t have time. I was -,1-7q-2, told to e-mail her the questions. E-mail interviews are fraught with problems. They have a history of burning journalists, even relatively harmless literary critics. In one well known incident, David Kirkpatrick, who was then covering the publishing 4. industry for The New York Times, con ducted a disastrous e-mail interview with David Eggers, the then very hip and 30 THE TEXAS OBSERVER APRIL 1, 2005