On 26 August 2002, conservative pundit Ann Coulter gave an interview to the New York Observer in which she stated “My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building.”
Timothy McVeigh was an anti-government extremist and the perpetrator of the 19 April 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City, an attack that left 168 people — including 19 children — dead and injured hundreds more. McVeigh was convicted of the bombing and was executed on 11 June 2001 for his role in committing the single deadliest home-grown terror attack in American history.
Coulter has never denied she made the remark, which was apparently tape-recorded by Observer writer George Gurley. The relevant passage in Gurley’s story that reported it read as follows:
How about all those very unflattering pictures [the New York Times likes] running of conservatives, I asked. “Oh yeah, oh yeah,” Ms. Coulter said. “They ran not one but two photos of George Herbert Walker Bush throwing up in Japan. Not one, one was not enough! Two photos of that. Is your tape recorder running? Turn it on! I got something to say.”
Then she said: “My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building.”
I told her to be careful.
“You’re right, after 9/11 I shouldn’t say that,” she said, spotting a cab and grabbing it.
Coulter addressed the comment during a 29 June 2006 appearance on the Fox News program “Hannity & Colmes.”
During that program, co-host Alan Colmes observed: “The things you say, the things you write, when you say Tim McVeigh should have bombed the Times building, we should carpet-bomb [Middle Eastern countries] to convert them to Christianity … I should be laughing at this, these are all jokes.”
After some back-and-forth, Coulter, who was apparently upset over a Times report detailing the U.S. government’s sifting through Americans’ bank records as part of post-9/11, counter-terrorism efforts, responded: “I think the Timothy McVeigh line was merely prescient after the New York Times has leapt beyond, beyond nonsense straight into treason last week.”
Coulter was also asked about the comment in a 28 February 2012 interview by RightWingNews.com and didn’t deny making it or express regret over it. Instead, she doubled down:
John Hawkins:: You’ve caught a lot of heat for a couple of quotes you made. In your column three days after 9/11, you said, “We know who the homicidal maniacs are. They are the ones cheering and dancing right now. We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.” You also said in an interview with the New York Observer, “My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building.” Do you stand by those quotes or do you think that perhaps you should have phrased them differently?
Ann Coulter: Ozzy Osbourne has his bats, and I have that darn “convert them to Christianity” quote. (Thank you for giving the full quote. I have the touch, don’t I?) Some may not like what I said, but I’m still waiting to hear a better suggestion.
RE: McVeigh quote. Of course I regret it. I should have added, “after everyone had left the building except the editors and reporters.”
Coulter so liked her comment that she included it in her 2007 book, If Democrats Had Any Brains, They’d Be Republicans:
McVeigh allegedly served as the inspiration for another would-be domestic terrorist. In August 2017, the FBI arrested 23-year-old Jerry Drake Varnell on suspicion of attempting to detonate what he thought was a 1,000-pound bomb (the explosive turned out to be a fake) at a bank building in Oklahoma City. Varnell reportedly harbored an admiration for McVeigh.