A CLOWN’S GOTTA DO WHAT A CLOWN’S GOTTA DO…. Apparently, Ann Coulter has a new book out. This does not come as a surprise. The book makes a series of ridiculous claims that are obviously false. This, too, does not come as a surprise.

And true to form, major media outlets are doing their part to help promote Coulter’s latest screed. This really does not come as a surprise.

On the January 6 broadcast of CBS’ The Early Show, co-anchor Harry Smith teased an interview with author and syndicated columnist Ann Coulter by saying, “Ann Coulter is in the studio this morning. She has a brand new book. It’s called Guilty: Liberal “Victims” and Their Assault on America, and in it, she says that I am certifiably insane. Perhaps I am, for having her on the program this morning. So we’ll get to that in a little bit.”

Smith joins other media figures who have expressed disapproval for Coulter’s comments while giving her a platform to promote those comments, as Media Matters for America has documented. Indeed, NBC has repeatedly provided Coulter a platform to spew her inflammatory rhetoric even as NBC-affiliated hosts and anchors have expressed disapproval of her statements or criticized the media for promoting her. Coulter’s latest book is rife with such inflammatory and offensive comments.

To his credit, anchor Harry Smith called Coulter “goofy” and “sophomoric,” but he nevertheless had her on his show.

There was also some flap about Coulter having been bumped from NBC’s “Today” show — Drudge falsely “reported” that Coulter had been “banned for life” — but the latest word is that NBC has invited her to appear on tomorrow’s show.

I may be in the minority on this, but I don’t blame Coulter entirely for her insane antics. She’s a circus clown, and she can’t get paid if no one’s paying attention. Coulter has a very strong incentive to be as deliberately idiotic and hateful as possible — her career depends on it.

The problem is with media professionals who consider this clown a credible voice, worthy of promotion and praise. I don’t blame Coulter for writing a ridiculous book; I blame network producers who want to give Coulter a national platform to talk about her ridiculous book.

The same media outlets that talk about the coarsening of our discourse, and the bile that tends to dominate our politics, just can’t wait to hand Coulter a microphone and help her sell books. It perpetuates a kind of social cancer.

Coulter bears some responsibility, but so do the “serious” media outlets that give her the publicity she craves.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.