We've been following the comments of CNN's Erick Erickson who said late last week: I'll "[p]ull out my wife's shotgun" if they try to arrest me for not filling out the American Community Survey.
Tough talk from the editor of the right-wing RedState.com who told CNN's Howard Kurtz just days earlier that he'd learned, "I don't have to get personal in blogging to make my point. I definitely evolved over time" following mounting criticism over his long history of incendiary, mean-spirited and otherwise hateful rhetoric and CNN's decision to hire him.
Now the White House is weighing in with its opinion.
Asked by progressive radio host and author Bill Press to comment on the controversy surrounding Erickson's "shotgun" comments during today's White House press briefing, press secretary Robert Gibbs called them "remarkably crazy."
BILL PRESS: Robert, on the Census, Erick Erickson, a commentator for CNN, a couple of days ago, he said he was not going to fill out his Census form, and if a Census worker came to the door, he said he would "pull out my wife's shotgun and see how that little twerp likes being scared at the door." So my question is, do those remarks concern the White House? And are there any -
ROBERT GIBBS: It should concern CNN -- probably first and foremost. Probably concerns his wife as well.
PRESS: Any thoughts about protection for Census workers?
GIBBS: Well, I think there are a lot of people that get on cable TV and say stuff so that people will quote it back to other people.
Obviously the Census determines the representation you have in what we call representative democracy. I think it's why somebody like Karl Rove, who obviously I and others in this administration have disagreed with for going on many years, understands that the lunacy of ripping up your Census form or not sending it in or, God forbid, the remarkably crazy remarks of somebody that would threaten somebody simply trying to ensure that they're adequately represented in this country. These days it never ceases to amaze you -- and usually it's only trumped by what somebody will knowingly say tomorrow about -- I think it was Lincoln who said, "Better to be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt." I think that would be my advice.
From an April 6 post by managing editor David Swindle at David Horowitz's NewsReal, headlined "Barack 'Mr. Blonde' Obama Raises the Razor on America":
CNN contributor Erick Erickson has come under widespread criticism for his remark last week that he would "[p]ull out my wife's shotgun" if the government tries to arrest him for not filling out the American Community Survey. It wasn't the first time that Erickson has suggested he would respond to potential problems with the government by pulling out a firearm.
In March 2009, Erickson wrote an angry post about legislation banning "dishwasher detergent made with phosphates" in Washington state. Erickson asked: "At what point do the people tell the politicians to go to hell? At what point do they get off the couch, march down to their state legislator's house, pull him outside, and beat him to a bloody pulp for being an idiot?"
Erickson concluded that post by writing, "Were I in Washington State, I'd be cleaning my gun right about now waiting to protect my property from the coming riots or the government apparatchiks coming to enforce nonsensical legislation."
On his radio show today, Erickson attempted to defend his post to a critical caller by claiming that it "was not a statement advocating violence but a statement predicating that at some point the tyranny of small things will overwhelm the American public and they're going to get mad." During the approximately three minute segment, Erickson did not address his statement about "cleaning my gun."
As my colleague Eric Boehlert pointed out earlier today, Fox News received some rather unexpected criticism from Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) for their biased reporting and health care misinformation. Now, the standard operating procedure for Fox News is to lash out at pretty much anyone who dares to criticize them, be it politician or cable news competitor, with a snarky response from an often-unnamed spokesperson.
But it's been a long while now since Coburn called out Fox for their biased and erroneous reporting, and we can't find any indication that they've upbraided the Oklahoma Republican for his intemperate remarks. Time's Michael Scherer thinks we probably won't hear a peep, but I'm forever the optimist...
While we wait and wonder what's taking so long for Fox News to attack a Republican senator, let's do a quick review of all those people and groups who have found themselves on the bad side of Fox News' notoriously thin-skinned press department after questioning the network's commitment to "fair and balanced" journalism.
Are some at Fox News having second thoughts about embracing and helping to mainstream fringe, anti-government conspiracy nut Alex Jones? Especially now that Jones' Web site seems to be stoking calls for violence against federal employees?
Here's a recent Foxnews.com report on the rash of anti-government threats being made on IRS workers in the wake of health care reform being passed [emphasis added]:
The health care law has sparked protests on radical anti-tax and anti-government Web sites and within their private, password-protected e-mail lists and message boards. Some writers have labeled March 21 -- the day the House passed the bill – "Bloody Sunday," and they see it as a call to violent action against IRS workers.
In the days following the House vote, animosity toward the IRS intensified, and many heated online protests included specific discussions about the best way to go about killing tax agents.
Hundreds of comments were posted in response to an incendiary story on infowars.com, the radical far-right Web site owned by radio host Alex Jones. The story, entitled, "The Cost Of Defying Obamacare: $2,250 a Month And IRS Goons Pointing Guns At Your Family," focused on the "increasing militarization of the IRS" and its expansion of powers under the new health care law.
So it appears that Jones is at the center of the radical, anti-government movement and owns a "radical far-right Web site," which seems to be housing lots of the potentially murderous rhetoric about IRS agents.
Message from Foxnews.com article: Jones is a bad guy.
That's odd because last year Fox News presented the same government-hating Jones as something of a folk hero:
During a March 18 webcast of FoxNews.com's proudly paranoid "Freedom Watch," Andrew Napolitano introduced a segment about "what the government has done to take your liberty and your property away." And with that, he welcomed onto the show "the one, the only, the great Alex Jones," who began ranting about "exposing" the New World Order and the threat posed by an emerging "global government."
"I appreciate what you're exposing," Napolitano assured his guest...Concluding the interview, Fox News' Napolitano announced "it's absolutely been a pleasure" listening to Jones' insights.
While defending the New York Times from attacks by Vatican officials, Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz nevertheless suggests the media may be too harsh:
I do think there's a legitimate question as to whether the media are using 2010 standard to judge misconduct that took place decades ago. But that argument is being lost in the Vatican's broadsides against those who are trying to uncover the painful truth.
Really? What standard should the media use in assessing sexual abuse of minors? Kurtz never got around to explaining that. Maybe he'll address it during his online Q&A today.
Jonah Goldberg writes:
Congratulations! This is your last week working for the man - at least for this year. The Tax Foundation calculates that Tax Freedom Day for 2010 is April 9, which means that by Friday, Americans will have spent nearly 100 days working just to pay their taxes. If Democrats have their way, Tax Freedom Day will keep getting later and later.
Individual liberty is far from the only concern, either. The kind of country we want to be is deeply bound up in taxation. The Tax Foundation estimates that some 60% of American families already get more from the government than they pay in taxes (and the top 10% of earners pay more than 70% of the income taxes). If all of President Obama's plans are enacted, that percentage will increase. We are heading toward being a country where instead of the people deciding how much money the government should have, the government decides how much money the people should have.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., recently admitted that alleviating the "maldistribution of income in America" from the haves to the have-nots is one of the legislation's real benefits.
For a guy who is so concerned about families who "get more from the government than they pay in taxes," Goldberg is remarkably unconcerned about corporations that get more from the government than they pay in taxes. See, Goldberg's column comes just a few days after Forbes reported that last year, General Electric "generated $10.3 billion in pretax income, but ended up owing nothing to Uncle Sam. In fact, it recorded a tax benefit of $1.1 billion." And Exxon Mobile, despite more than $30 billion in earnings, paid no federal income taxes.
Despite the fact that Exxon and G.E. celebrate "Tax Freedom Day" just moments after ringing in the new year, Goldberg didn't once mention corporate taxes in his column. Apparently, he thinks that if your tax money pays for a poor kid's school lunch, that's an infringement on your freedom -- but if it subsidizes an oil company's profits, that's all good.
Discussing the video clip of Michelle Obama referring to Kenya as Barack's "home country" that has been circulating the usual birther hotspots, Beck got to the bottom of the story:
Got all that? Beck "believe[s]," but he "could be wrong on this," that the tape has been released by "operatives on the left" who want to "stir the pot" on the birther issue. As usual, Beck didn't bother providing any evidence. Luckily for these "operatives on the left," they have some powerful allies embedded within the conservative movement helping them "stir the pot."
As I pointed out yesterday, Fox Nation, the website run by Glenn Beck's employer, posted this video with no context whatsoever. Providing no explanation for who exactly was "up in arms," they posted the video under the headline, "Birthers Up in Arms Over First Lady 'Home Country' Video." As of this writing, the video is still on their home page. Showing how effective Fox Nation has been at helping the liberal operatives stir the pot, the comments section has since devolved into a cesspool of the usual birther lunacy.
During the clip, Beck begged people to "run away" from the birther issue. He should probably circulate that memo around the building.
Today at 11, the Washington Post hosts Republican activist David Frum for an online Q&A. Yesterday, the Post hosted Republican former Vice President Dan Quayle for a Q&A. I have long had a suspicion that the Post hosts conservatives for such Q&A sessions more often than progressives -- recent examples include a right-wing lawyer with a skewed take on the constitutionality of health care reform and a right-wing professor whining about liberals being condescending.
So I took a look at the online Q&As the Post has hosted over the past three months, and pulled out the sessions that featured guest writers (rather than Washington Post staff) with clear ideological leanings (either broadly or on the hot-button topic they were addressing.) Here's what I found:
Politics: David Frum on conservatism's future
Outlook: Dan Quayle on the tea party, Palin and Ross Perot
Washingtonpost.com, April 5, 2010 Monday 12:00 PM EST, LIVEONLINE, 1596 words, Dan Quayle, Former vice president, washingtonpost.com
Outlook: Is health-care reform unconstitutional?
Washingtonpost.com, March 22, 2010 Monday 11:00 AM EST, LIVEONLINE, 3684 words, Randy Barnett, Professor of constitutional law, Georgetown University, washingtonpost.com
Megan McArdle on the final health-care vote and why she opposes reform
Washingtonpost.com, March 21, 2010 Sunday 2:00 PM EST, LIVEONLINE, 15 words, Megan McArdle, Staff Writer, The Atlantic, washingtonpost.com
Outlook: Could ignoring abortion cost Republicans the midterms?
Washingtonpost.com, March 15, 2010 Monday 9:00 AM EST, LIVEONLINE, 3502 words, Marjorie Dannenfelser, President, the Susan B. Anthony List, washingtonpost.com
Outlook: Would Reagan vote for Sarah Palin?
Washingtonpost.com, March 8, 2010 Monday 11:00 AM EST, LIVEONLINE, 1948 words, Steven Hayward
John Yoo: National security, executive power and the war on terrorism
Washingtonpost.com, March 3, 2010 Wednesday 1:00 PM EST, LIVEONLINE, 3313 words, John Yoo, Law Professor, Author, washingtonpost.com
Dick Armey on theTea Party movement: The new majority?
Washingtonpost.com, February 8, 2010 Monday 1:00 PM EST, LIVEONLINE, 3685 words, Dick Armey, Fmr. House Majority Leader (R-Tex.), Chairman of Freedom Works and Leader in Tea Party Movement, washingtonpost.com
Outlook: Why are liberals so condescending to conservatives?
Washingtonpost.com, February 8, 2010 Monday 11:00 AM EST, LIVEONLINE, 7022 words, Gerard Alexander, Associate Professor of Politics, University of Virginia, washingtonpost.com
Gay marriage in the District
Washingtonpost.com, March 10, 2010 Wednesday 1:00 PM EST, LIVEONLINE, 16 words, Rick Imirowicz and Terrance Heath, Same-Sex Couple, washingtonpost.com
Talk with Gov. Tim Kaine
Washingtonpost.com, January 13, 2010 Wednesday 10:00 AM EST, LIVEONLINE, 2080 words, Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Governor of Virginia and Chairman, Democratic National Committee, washingtonpost.com
From radio host G. Gordon Liddy's Twitter: