2019 marks the 10th anniversary of a uniquely Cornellian spat, a weird, manifestly pointless, partially televised dispute between pundits Ann Coulter ’84 and Keith Olbermann ’79. The tussle concerned the Ivy League legitimacy of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, which Coulter questioned in an attempt to discredit Olbermann, a CALS alumnus. New York Magazine called the tussle an “awesome college catfight,” The Washington Examiner dubbed Coulter’s comments “schadenfruede-licious” and Jordan Fabian ’09, editor-at-large of The Cornell Review, the conservative student publication Coulter helped found, told The Sun he found her instigation “pretty funny.”
The story of the “catfight” is an entertaining one, but it’s also a cautionary tale of two alumni who exposed toxic Cornell attitudes to a national audience. We should not follow the example they set. Coulter, a right-wing provocateur, is a defective product of Ezra Cornell’s noble institution.