Dear Lawrence O'Donnell,
The cable news industry has fundamentally changed the way Americans get their news, and not necessarily for the better. News has now morphed into an uncomfortable amalgam of entertainment, opinion and information. It has created media stars out of pundits unafraid to say the shocking thing, which makes "good" television, though not necessarily informational television. And all the while, you're competing for as much market share as possible against your rivals.
I relate this to you only to show you that I am aware of the situation you find yourself. Given the time slot formerly held by Keith Olbermann, a polarizing figure to be sure, but also one whose understanding of the above enabled him to build a considerable audience and following for MSNBC, you've got big shoes to fill. You've admitted as such yourself.
So I have to ask the question: what the hell was Ann Coulter doing on my television screen last night? She adds nothing to the conversation. Seriously, who gives a flying fig about who she "loves" and who she thinks should have the Republican nomination in 2012? It would be one thing if you had used the opportunity to show how consistently and constantly she is wrong--maybe show video of her praising McCain who she so disdains now. But the "Aryan from Darien" has an open invitation to Hannity's show to spout her fact-free opinions unchallenged. She does not need one from you too.
And here's the thing, Lawrence (Can I call you Lawrence? After all, you follow me and C&L on Twitter, so you obviously want to know what we're talking about): there is absolutely no dearth of platforms for conservatives to add to the national dialog. They have a fairly well-trafficked (and corporately funded) choice of blogs, publications, radio, television and cable. Take a look at the Sunday shows. How many Democrats do you see on them? Now, quick, how many liberals or progressives do you see on them? It's the same with talk radio and other television outlets.
That's the real tragedy of booking Coulter, Lawrence. I really think most Americans see the world as I --and you-- do. We believe in equal rights, in the freedom to love, worship, live, and learn as we want, as long as it doesn't hurt others. We believe that government serves a purpose by providing safety nets to ensure that we don't fall through the cracks. We believe that justice should be equally and fairly applied. We believe that people should not be less important than corporations. The percentage of people who don't believe in those truisms is small, but yet they get an overwhelming percentage of airtime to push the dialog far to the right, edging us out of a seat at the table. And that's what you did by booking Coulter. Once again, her narrow-minded, hate-filled (did you catch her insulting you, saying that obviously Hannity is smarter than you, since you're a registered Democrat? Classy.) and marginal intelligence is given legitimacy and liberals are not. That's why people don't realize how truly liberal their beliefs are. It's never represented to them.
I suspect that you and your producers justified bringing Coulter on by thinking it proved you're not afraid to have on opposing viewpoints. Honestly, I'm not all that impressed, as that seems to be the same simplistic binary thinking that "balance" means bringing on a Democrat and a Republican. There are not always two equally valid viewpoints. In Coulter's case, there's a history of viewpoints that I'd say should invalidate any further platforms.
Please, Lawrence, leave Coulter to Fox News. Won't you please be a platform to bring liberal voices and viewpoints to cable news? Won't you consider being the vehicle by which we can shift the dialog back from the right?