Was it a shameless stunt to score political points on conservatives or a genuine effort to raise money for charity?
On MSNBC’s “The Last Word” Tuesday, host Lawrence O’Donnell challenged a statement Ann Coulter made on Fox’s “The O’Reilly Factor. Coulter said “liberals think sending a check to the IRS constitutes charity” and that conservatives are more charitable.
“’Liberals are the least charitable with their money,’” O’Donnell said. “Really, Ann? Consider the response of this program’s audience, which surely has some liberals in it, to my plea for donations to the KIND Fund, Kids in Need of Desks.”
O’Donnell said the “KIND Fund” is a partnership between MSNBC and UNICEF to raise money for desks for schools in Malawi.
“Last week, I announced this unique partnership between MSNBC and UNICEF to raise money for desks for school children in Africa who now sit on dirt floors or cement floors. The desks we are supplying to these schools are made in Malawi, so the contribution to buy a desk also helps stimulate the Malawi economy, provide jobs for the workers who will make those desks, and enable them to feed their families,” he said.
O’Donnell said his viewers raised $727,991 for the program — proving that liberals are indeed charitable, he explained.
But Coulter isn’t incorrect when she says conservatives are more charitable than liberals. Data indicating that conservatives give more than liberals were compiled by American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks in his 2006 book, “Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism.” As the book pointed out, liberal families earn an average of 6 percent more than those of conservative families, yet conservative households give 30 percent more on average to charity than liberal household.
However, rather than cite specific data, O’Donnell decided the debate should be settled by donations for his pet cause from Coulter and conservative radio talker Rush Limbaugh
“So, Ann, I’m not going to fight with you about who is more charitable. I’m going to allow the astonishing kindness and generosity of my audience to serve as the response to your statement that liberals are the least charitable with their money. And I beg you, Ann, to now show us just how charitable conservatives can be with their money. Forty eight dollars a desk, $720 for a classroom – come on, Ann, you can afford a classroom. And, hey, if you can get Rush involved, he can buy desks for every kid in Malawi.”
Whether it was a desperate plea to get Coulter’s attention or just a clever ploy to raise money for this charity, O’Donnell told viewers he had purchased a desk in Coulter’s name as a Christmas gift.
“And Ann, that e-mail from UNICEF, that’s not spam,” he continued. “I just bought you a desk for Christmas. Merry Christmas, Ann.