The biggest catfight on daytime Wednesday wasn't on any soap opera. Nope, it was on NBC's usually claw-free Today Show.
Katie Couric dropped the perky persona and went hiss to diss with conservative writer Ann Coulter over perceived political bias.
Despite vowing she "didn't want to go tit for tat", the $65 million cohost of NBC's popular morning show did just that, sparring vigorously with the media-savvy Coulter.
Coulter was on the show to hawk her new book, Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right, which just happens to accuse Couric of liberal bias and calls her "the affable Eva Braun of morning television."
Before the 12-minute Q&A, Couric noted that Coulter had been referred to as "a right-wing telebimbo." Not long thereafter, Couric challenged Coulter's description.
Couric: "You call me the 'Eva Braun' of liberalism--"
"Affable," interjected Coulter.
"Thanks...that makes me feel soooo much better," replied Couric, her trademark grin giving way to a scowl.
Couric also took Coulter to task for claiming the Today host called Ronald Reagan "an airhead." Couric vehemently denied it, saying it was Regan biographer Edmund Morris, not her, who made the remark. Couric said she was just quoting Morris. "You used me an example of liberal bias against Ronald Reagan. I'm just wondering why you took that out of context."
"Well, I don't think I did," responded Coulter. "You're taking it out of context."
"No, I'm not," snapped Couric.
Couric also challenged Coulter for having alleged that Couric blamed the murder of gay-rights victim Matthew Shepard on Christian evangelicals.
Then Couric brought up Coulter's infamous quote about Muslim countries. "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity," Coulter wrote. The comment, Couric pointed out, was too much even for the conservative periodical National Review, which fired Coulter. (Coulter maintains her contract simply ran out.)
"Do you still believe that's the best way to fight terrorism?" Couric demanded. Coulter offered up the "quote taken out of context" excuse, previously utilized by Couric.
Coulter insisted that after September 11 the first two points "had become official government policy." "As for converting them to Christianity, I think it might be a good idea to get them on some sort of hobby other than slaughtering infidels. I mean, perhaps that's the Peace Corps, perhaps it's working for Planned Parenthood, but I've never seen the transforming effect of anything like Christianity."
The spat ended with Couric's saying, "It's always interesting to talk to you, to say the least."
The Washington Post dubbed the showdown a contest of "The Morning Mugger and the Human Uzi" and declared Coulter the winner, because her book immediately jumped to number one on Amazon.com's bestseller list.
Couric, who made headlines earlier in the week for ending her two-year romance with television executive Tom Werner, has so far declined to comment on the bout.
Coulter, on the other hand, is milking it. She emailed the Post to say, "Katie is obviously charming--I wouldn't care what her political agenda was if she were my next-door neighbor rather than a popular TV host."
Then she rushed over to one of her favorite venues, Fox News Channel, to discuss the tête-à-tête, and, not content to refer to Couric as Hitler's mistress, compared the Today host to Nazi propagandist Josef Goebbels.