Ann Coulter's Selective Brain (With a Smidgen of Plagiarism):
In her most recent "column", Coulter attacks the Democrats for a couple of their snarky remarks at the most recent debate. She focuses in on Barack Obama (who, she tiresomely reminds us, is middle-named "Hussein" - hey, guess what? Coulter's hero, Joseph McCarthy, has a first name that is pretty much the same as Stalin's - oooh, scary), who answered the "are you black enough?" question by saying how hard it is for him to catch a cab in New York City.
To counter Obama, Coulter brings up a Giuliani-era program: "He started 'Operation Refusal' in 1999, sending out teams of black undercover cops and taxi commissioners to hail cabs and give fines to those who refused to pick up blacks. Even back in 1999, in the first 12 hours of 'Operation Refusal,' out of more than 800 cabs hailed, only five cab drivers refused to pick up a customer — one of whom was a white woman with children."
In a column full of references to other New York Times articles, would it have killed Coulter to mention that she got this info from the Times? She could have quoted, even. Here's the strangely familiar paragraph from the November 13, 1999 article "Despite Warning, Some Cabdrivers Are Snared" by Somini Sengupta: "During the first 12 hours of the program, called Operation Refusal, teams of undercover police officers and taxi inspectors, black and white, hailed 817 cabs throughout Manhattan. Of those, five passed up customers because of their race or gender, police and taxi commission officials said. Among those cited was a driver on the East Side of Manhattan who refused to pick up a white woman with two children; instead, the cabby picked up an undercover inspector, a white male, nearby."
See? She could have quoted it directly, citing her source and everything, thus avoiding even the appearance of, you know, plagiarism.
Why wouldn't she? Oh, wait. Because the source article actually undermines her entire point. See, it wasn't just "black undercover police officers and taxi commissioners." They were actually "black and white." And they weren't just looking for racial bias; they were seeking gender bias, too. For Coulter, the fact that a cabbie didn't pick up a white woman proves there was no racial bias. For the undercover officials, it proves gender bias, which is one of the things that Operation Refusal seeks to halt. Also, perhaps one reason the number of cabbies caught is so low is that they were warned beforehand, something Coulter doesn't mention.
By the way, parts of the policy that Coulter praises were ruled unconstitutional, and cabbies who had their licenses suspended or revoked won a large settlement from the city because, like so many of Giuliani's policies, it overreached and was dictatorially run and was another get-tough measure by a power-hungry Giuliani seeking to become a Senator. Operation Refusal remains in a substantially modified form. It did not cure the problem of taxicab bias, as Coulter implies when she says there is "overwhelming evidence disproving...the yarn about blacks not being able to get a cab in New York."
And did anyone tell Coulter that the program was started because Danny Glover couldn't get a cab? Does Ann Coulter now support Danny Glover?
(By the way, regular readers will notice a different title than usual for Ann Coulter pieces on this merry blog. The Rude Pundit has made this one safe for the kiddies to link to, thus keeping his powder dry for the next time.)