A Hard Right Punch

Malkin tapes a segment for the Web site Hot Air.
Malkin tapes a segment for the Web site Hot Air. "She's a very tough lady," says a colleague. " . . . She enjoys the combat of ideas." (By Linda Davidson -- The Washington Post)

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By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 16, 2007

Michelle Malkin has seen her head electronically grafted onto a photo of a bikini-clad body.

She had to cancel a Berkeley book signing in the face of 200 shouting protesters.

YouTube banned one of her videos. And she felt compelled to move after critics posted online her Gaithersburg area address and pictures of her home.

Clearly, this is a woman who arouses strong emotions.

"They'll ridicule my looks, ridicule my ethnicity, go after my family," the 36-year-old blogger says of her critics. "They've attacked my husband relentlessly. There's a strong sexist strain among my liberal critics, who think it isn't possible I could have gotten anywhere without my Svengali husband, or some white man, embedding ideas in my head."

Make no mistake, though: This daughter of Filipino immigrants plays pretty rough herself. Whether on her blog, her Internet talk show or her Fox News appearances, Malkin delights in sticking her finger in the eye of the liberal establishment. And she is convinced that her detractors don't play fair.

"Particularly when you're a minority conservative," she says, "you get a lot of ugly, hysterical, unhinged attacks, because you're challenging so many liberal myths about what people of color should think."

Plenty of folks find Malkin's rhetoric overheated as well. "The donkey party," she wrote last fall, "is led by thumb-sucking demagogues in prominent positions who equate Bush with Hitler and Jim Crow, call him a liar in front of high school students and the world, fantasize about impeachment and fetishize the human rights of terrorists who want to kill me. Put simply: There are no grown-ups in the Democrat Party."

Andrew Sullivan, a conservative blogger who has turned on the Bush administration, regularly bestows a "Malkin Award" for excessive attacks. "Sometimes you just can't believe what she writes -- it's so out there, and in certain respects quite disgraceful," he says.

At the same time, says Sullivan, "she's been subjected to some pretty horrifying bigotry from the left, based on her gender and ethnicity and ugly stereotypes. You can't engage in the kind of rhetoric she does and not expect some blowback."

Is this merely how the war of ideas is waged in an anything-goes digital culture? Or is Malkin an especially inflammatory practitioner, torching her targets with such books as "Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild"?

Over lunch at a Filipino cafe at Union Station, Malkin, who has two young children, is charming one moment and pugnacious the next. She says she loves the intellectual freedom of the blogosphere, where "you can respond, you can reveal people to be the liars and slanderers they are."


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© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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