Fox News contributor Erick Erickson is aggressively lobbying for a "religious freedom" bill in Georgia that would create a broad license to discriminate against LGBT people on the basis of religion.
For the past two months, Fox News contributor, RedState.com editor, and radio host Erick Erickson has been relentlessly campaigning for the passage of SB 129, a so-called "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" (RFRA) that has already passed the Georgia Senate. The proposed RFRA would enshrine the ability of businesses and state employees to refuse service to LGBT people. Southern faith leaders, religious liberty scholars, businesses and even some conservative lawmakers have publicly denounced RFRAs over concerns that they would create a blank check for anti-gay discrimination.
Erickson, who has compared gay people to terrorists and believes businesses who serve same-sex weddings are "aiding and abetting" sin, might be SB 129's most vocal and prominent supporter. Between February 18 and March 18, he sent 11 emails in support of the bill to the list of subscribers to his radio show, wrote 8 blog posts about the measure on RedState, and has lobbied for the law on at least 5 of his radio shows. Erickson frequently touts the myth of Christian persecution across media platforms to advocate for RFRA, telling subscribers in a March 10 email:
If you are not willing to pick up the phone, we will lose. Our religious liberty protections in Georgia will start being eroded by left-wing activists inside and outside the judiciary.
Start calling now. Insist they tell the Speaker to bring S.B. 129 to the floor immediately without amendments. Your right to worship and practice your beliefs is on the line. And yes, it can happen here in Georgia.
Erickson has also falsely claimed that, without RFRA, local non-discrimination ordinances will force churches to build unisex bathrooms and dictate that "a man who says he's a woman should be able to use the women's bathroom;" in fact, churches are largely exempt from non-discrimination laws.
On March 18, Erickson announced that he will be recording calls to constituents in several districts across Georgia, especially in areas where he has "a regular media presence:"
It is the perfect robocall for a state whose elected officials claim not just to be "Republican", but to be Christians and conservatives.
We're moving from "make them see the light" to "make them feel the heat."
It is no surprise that Erickson is working to rally his supporters behind this type of license-to-discriminate legislation, given his cozy relationship with the extreme anti-LGBT organization Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). ADF is a multi-million dollar organization that works with "2,400 allied attorneys" nationally to draft and pass RFRA laws. As CNN put it, ADF has provided the "genetic code" behind RFRAs across the country.
Erickson has long been a vocal supporter of ADF - their "religious freedom" work so inspired him that he previously begged readers of his RedState.com blog to donate money to the organization. The close relationship between Erickson and ADF is a two way street - ADF hosted "An Evening with Erick Erickson" that focused on the "increasingly aggressive attack" on religious liberty. Just recently, in lobbying for SB 129 on his March 5 radio show, Erickson hailed ADF as a "wonderful wonderful organization" that "defend[s] Christians."
With their mouthpieces at Fox promoting their narrative of Christian persecution, ADF has helped craft a number of RFRA bills being considered in states across the country. It remains to be seen if Erickson will continue his role as ADF's cheerleader in its mission to enshrine anti-LGBT discrimination in the law one state at a time.
Fox News contributor Erick Erickson recently criticized potential Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee for pitching products like survival food and shady diabetes treatments, decrying the types of ads Huckabee endorsed as a "plague on conservatives." But Erickson is a hypocrite -- his RedState website also cashed in on Huckabee's shady diabetes infomercial and has previously sold out readers to a wide range of hucksters and conspiracy theorists.
On March 15, The New York Times reported that former Fox News contributor Mike Huckabee had recently appeared in an "infomercial for a dubious diabetes treatment, in which Mr. Huckabee, who is contemplating a run for the Republican nomination in 2016, tells viewers to ignore 'Big Pharma' and instead points them to a 'weird spice, kitchen-cabinet cure,' consisting of dietary supplements."
Times reporter Trip Gabriel explained that the diabetes treatment -- a "Diabetes Solution Kit" from Barton Publishing -- is part of a wide series of shady ads Huckabee has placed in his email commentaries while he explores a presidential bid. (Huckabee also spent years using his celebrity as a Fox News personality to sell out his fans to scam artists.)
After laying out the types of pitches Huckabee has recently sent to his supporters -- including survival food ads and a "miracle cure for cancer hidden in the Bible" -- Gabriel writes that they are all "designed to pry open the wallets of small-donor conservatives, some of whom distrust mainstream sources of information."
The article then quotes influential conservative activist Erick Erickson lamenting the proliferation of these types of scams as a "plague on conservatives":
"This is a plague on conservatives," said Erick Erickson, the founder of the influential blog Red State, who has criticized ads for products and outside political groups that he calls "hucksters," which prey on conservatives.
While a radio or TV host might not be able to choose his sponsors, Mr. Huckabee can presumably pick who he sells space to on email commentaries. "I don't know that a potential presidential candidate should be running survival food ads," Mr. Erickson said.
While the Times gave Erickson a platform to contrast himself favorably with "hucksters," Erickson's own RedState site has repeatedly sold out its readers to the very same groups.
For example, RedState sent out a paid advertisement last month featuring the Huckabee diabetes infomercial that was the focus of the Times article:
Prior to Huckabee's involvement, Erickson's RedState had previously sent out at least three email pitches -- all featuring the subject line "1 Weird Spice That Destroys Diabetes" -- promoting Barton Publishing's "Diabetes Solution Kit."
RedState has also sent numerous pitches to its readers from "Food4Patriots," the survival food kit company the Times notes Huckabee has promoted.
When Politico noted in January that Erickson's email list had been rented to the "scam PACs" that he has repeatedly criticized, it quoted Erickson saying that he does not control who rents his list and that "and it horrifies me that the list sometimes get rented to some of these guys." (Salem Media company Townhall Media owns RedState and manages its email list.)
As Media Matters has documented, Erickson's RedState fans have also been sent sponsored messages about "Reagan's Secret Victory Over Cancer," "Obama's Deadly FDA Secret," "1 Weird Trick to KILL old age," and the "Obama scandal" that "WILL KILL MILIONS [sic]."
From the March 13 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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Fox contributor Erick Erickson parroted Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) to cast doubt on President Obama's Christianity, alleging he is not a Christian "in any meaningful way," despite the fact that right-wing attempts to call Obama's faith into question have long been discredited.
On February 21, Erickson expressed doubt about President Obama's Christianity, writing on Twitter that Obama is not a Christian "in any meaningful way":
I don't think Barack Obama is a Christian. He certainly is not one in any meaningful way.-- Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) February 22, 2015
Erickson's statement echoes the comments of 2016 presidential hopeful Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who told an interviewer "I don't know" whether Obama is a Christian, or whether "Obama loves his country" earlier the same day. As Democratic National Committee (DNC) spokesperson Holly Shulman pointed out, Walker's comments come after he sat "silently by when Rudy Giuliani made an outrageous comment that our President doesn't love America," -- a comment that has been condemned in mainstream media, but fiercely defended by conservative media like Fox News, Sean Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh.
Just as when right-wing media rushed to justify Giuliani's baseless assertion that Obama doesn't love America, Erickson's echoing of Walker's absurd statement will likely pressure other GOP presidential hopefuls to parrot claims that Obama is not a Christian in order to avoid attacks from the right-wing pundits who will help shape the opinions of conservative primary voters.
Fox News and conservative commentators like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck have a long history of questioning Obama's religion, and even pushing the debunked myth that he is a Muslim, despite the fact that references to his Christian faith are commonplace in Obama's public speeches, and accusations that Obama is a Muslim have no basis in reality.
Fox News contributor Erick Erickson compared LGBT-activists to terrorists to declare that "the divide between Islamic extremists and gay rights extremists is at death."
In a February 19 blog post on RedState.com entitled "The Line Between Islamic Extremists and Gay Rights Extremists," Erickson lamented a Washington state judge's recent decision finding that Arlene's Flowers, a florist which refused to service a same-sex wedding, had violated the state's non-discrimination law. According to Erickson, the only difference between the two groups is that LGBT activists don't kill their victims (emphasis added):
Gay rights activists... have not turned physically violent. But they are intent on destroying any who disagree with them. They will take the homes, businesses, and life savings of any who defy them. They will use the tools of the state and mob action through boycotts, fear, and intimidation to make it happen. They will not kill but they will threaten and scare.
The divide between Islamic extremists and gay rights extremists is at death. They meet on the line at destruction.
The gay rights activists who yell "bigot" at those who disagree with them are the Imams of America's cultural ghetto.
This latest anti-LGBT screed is typical of Erickson, who recently called the LGBT community "terrorists" over the firing of the anti-gay Atlanta fire chief and has previously endorsed the claim that the "homosexual movement" is destroying America.
Christians should, however, take heart. The faith that continued to flourish and spread while its adherents' bodies were being used to light the streets of Rome will survive this present turmoil. At a minimum, Christians have more children than homosexuals. We also have a God who stands with us, loves us, and will see us through to eternity.
Fox News contributor Erick Erickson asked his supporters to lobby for discriminatory, anti-gay "Religious Freedom Restoration Acts" that a Fox colleague denounced as "homosexual Jim Crow Laws."
In a February 12 email to "Erick's Conservative Activist List" titled "The Facts" and a February 13 blog post on RedState.com, Erickson asked his supporters to petition for the expansion of so-called state "Religious Freedom Restoration Acts" (RFRAs) - laws that would give individuals and businesses a broad license to discriminate against LGBT people on religious grounds:
An absolute majority of American support religious exceptions relating to providing goods and services to gay marriage. But gay rights advocates oppose that. The Supreme Court will undoubtedly impose gay marriage on the nation by June. Our state legislature needs to pass RFRA now to protect people of faith.
Call your state legislators and demand religious freedom protections for conscientious objectors to the culture wars.
Erickson supported his call for RFRAs by citing a number of anti-gay horror stories popularized by Fox News - all cases where a business violated state non-discrimination laws by refusing to serve gay customers.
Religious liberty scholars, southern faith leaders, and some conservative lawmakers and business owners have all publicly denounced RFRAs over concerns that they would create a blank check for anti-gay discrimination.
Even Erickson's colleagues at Fox have noted how extreme and discriminatory these kinds of RFRAs would be. Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers strongly condemned a RFRA bill in Kansas last year, taking issue with those who support the "homosexual Jim Crow Laws" that justify anti-LGBT bigotry in the name of Christianity. Even Megyn Kelly, a consistent enabler of homophobia at Fox, labeled Arizona's controversial license-to-discriminate bill as "potentially dangerous"- a position she later abandoned.
Erickson has a history of cozying up with the anti-LGBT organizations pushing for these discriminatory RFRA bills, including the extremist Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a group CNN found to be behind the "genetic code" of the RFRA bills popping up across the country. ADF's previous work on license-to-discriminate legislation so inspired Erickson that he begged readers of his RedState.com blog to donate money to the group.
Conservative media lashed out at President Obama for mentioning the Crusades and Inquisition at the National Prayer Breakfast after condemning the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) as a "death cult" that distorts Islam.
From the January 28 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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Erick Erickson's email list subscribers have received a bizarre array of pitches from conspiracy theorists and dubious practitioners warning of the impending death of millions of Americans and promising "cures" to cancer, Alzheimer's, and aging.
Politico's Ken Vogel recently reported how the conservative movement has been infected by "scam PACs," which "critics say exist mostly to pad the pockets of the consultants who run them." One of the favorite avenues for these sketchy schemes is the email list of Fox News contributor Erick Erickson's RedState.com.
Vogel wrote that Erickson is a frequent critic of dubious PACs, yet RedState's list has promoted many of their efforts. Erickson told Vogel he does not control who rents his list, "and it horrifies me that the list sometimes get rented to some of these guys."
In addition to dubious PAC emails, RedState has sent sponsored missives about "Reagan's Secret Victory Over Cancer," "Obama's Deadly FDA Secret," "1 Weird Trick to KILL old age," items to "hoard" to protect your family from starving, and the "Obama scandal" that "WILL KILL MILIONS [sic]."
RedState is owned by Salem Media company Townhall Media, which manages RedState's email list. According to them, the dedicated RedState emails reach 265,000 subscribers. Other Salem properties include Townhall.com, Human Events, and HotAir.com. Many emails sent to RedState's list also went to the lists of those sites.
Below are six shady products and pitches RedState has sent to Erickson's email list in recent months.
Conservative media attacked House Republicans for dropping plans to vote on a bill that included a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and attacked the female members, led by Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC), who objected to the bill.
As Mitt Romney is reportedly considering a third presidential run, several conservative media figures are calling foul, labeling the idea "too stupid" and suggesting another Romney bid would be "preposterous."
After repeatedly claiming he was done with running for president, last Friday Romney apparently reversed course, telling a group of Republican donors in New York City, "I want to be president." Since then, Romney's team has reportedly been working "to reassemble his national political network."
As part of his efforts to kickstart another run, Romney reportedly reached out to several conservative media figures.
According to The Washington Post, he recently invited Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham to his ski home to discuss "politics and policy," and also made phone calls to CNN analyst Newt Gingrich and Fox News contributor Scott Brown. In a subsequent appearance on The O'Reilly Factor, Ingraham initially told viewers that between Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Romney, her support would "probably be a tie between Romney and Walker." Pressed by O'Reilly, she added, "I'll just say Romney because he's been through the grist mill before." (Ingraham explained that Romney had made her and her daughter "cocoa and soup" when she visited his ski house.)
During an appearance on Fox News' Your World, Brown said that when Romney recently called him, "I encouraged Mitt to run." Brown told Fox News viewers that Romney "was right" on a variety of issues and that he "absolutely" wants Romney to join the race.
But not everyone in the conservative movement is as supportive.
In an article for the New York Times, reporter Jonathan Martin writes that despite the "excitement among his loyalists in the Republican donor class" for another Romney run, "interviews with more than two dozen Republican activists, elected officials and contributors around the country reveal little appetite for another Romney candidacy."
Romney also faces a hurdle in several prominent conservative media figures and outlets that are less than enthusiastic about the idea of another Romney run.
This week marks the release of Florida Senator Marco Rubio's new book, American Dreams, which political observers point out "just happens to coincide with the start of the presidential election cycle."
As Rubio weighs a 2016 presidential run, his new book reportedly focuses on "outlining policy prescriptions on a range of subjects" and fearmongering about how electing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "would be a death blow to the American Dream."
Rubio's rise from Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives to U.S. Senator in the thick of a potential presidential campaign is thanks in no small part to Fox News. For years, the network has helped bolster his political career by fawning over him, including touting him as a vice presidential pick for former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Erick Erickson, the RedState.com editor who is now a contributor at the network, put Rubio on the political map when he endorsed Rubio's 2010 Senate bid at a time when the candidate was floundering in the GOP primary polls. Fox News political analyst Karl Rove also played a key role in Rubio's ascension, providing establishment support when he threw the weight of his Crossroads political groups behind Rubio's Senate candidacy.
While Rubio's immigration reform stance has since ruffled a lot of conservative feathers -- including some people on Fox -- he nonetheless has been the beneficiary of a major career boost from the conservative network.
Fox News is already helping Rubio promote his book and plug his 2016 aspirations. Rubio kicked off his book tour with a friendly appearance on Hannity the night before the book's release. Sean Hannity previewed the interview by telling viewers that Rubio "is looking, well, awfully presidential these days with the release of a brand new book that's just out today, American Dreams: Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone."
Below is a post first published by Media Matters in 2013 highlighting Fox News' history of cheerleading for Rubio.
Fox News contributor and radio talk show host Erick Erickson declared that "the terrorists won in Atlanta" after right-wing media falsely claimed that Atlanta's anti-gay fire chief was terminated for his religious beliefs.
On January 6, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed dismantled conservatives' claims that Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran was fired over a book that he wrote which contains anti-gay remarks, explaining that Cochran's lack of judgment in distributing the book to his employees, and not following instructions regarding his month-long suspension over publishing the book without notice to the city, is what led to his termination.
On January 7, hours after a horrific terrorist attack against staffers of the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris that left 12 people dead, Erickson wrote a blog post that likened the LGBT community to terrorists for objecting to the former Atlanta fire chief's book, and stated that "the terrorists won":
A publisher published something that offended. It mocked, it offended, and it showed the fallacy of a religion. It angered.
So the terrorists decided they needed to publicly destroy and ruin the publisher in a way that would not only make that destruction a public spectacle, but do it so spectacularly that others would think twice before publishing or saying anything similar.
The terrorist wants to sow fear. The destruction of an individual is not just meant to be a tool of vengeance, but a tool of instruction. It shows others what will happen to them if they dare do the same. It is generates self-regulating peer pressure. Others, fearing the fall out, will being to self-police and self-regulate. They will silence others on behalf of the terrorists. Out of fear, they will drive the ideas from the public square and society will make them off limits.
So they demanded the Mayor of Atlanta fire the Chief of the Fire Department for daring to write that his first duty was to "glory God" and that any sex outside of heterosexual marriage was a sin.
And the terrorists won in Atlanta.
Conservative media are falsely claiming that Atlanta's anti-gay fire chief was fired from his job because of his Christian faith, ignoring the unprofessional behavior that actually led to his termination.
On January 6, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed terminated Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran, following a month-long suspension which began as a response to anti-gay comments Cochran made in a self-published 2013 religious book.
Cochran was suspended after employees complained about inflammatory remarks in his book, "Who Told You That You Were Naked?," which included calling homosexuality a "perversion" akin to bestiality and pederasty. Cochran had distributed copies of his book to employees at the fire department.
Cochran's suspension and eventual firing prompted a predictable reaction from right-wing commentators decrying alleged Christian persecution. Fox News contributor Erick Erickson claimed that Cochran had been fired for "being a Christian," while Fox News reporter Todd Starnes suggested that Cochran was being persecuted for his religious beliefs.
But in a January 6 press conference, Mayor Reed stressed that the decision to fire Cochran wasn't based on his religious beliefs:
The mayor said he decided to terminate Cochran not just because the fire chief didn't consult him before publishing the book, but also spoke out about his suspension despite being told to remain quiet during the investigation into his leadership. What's more, Reed said he believes Cochran opened up the city to the potential for litigation over future discrimination claims.
Reed stressed that his decision is not because of Cochran's faith: "His religious (beliefs) are not the basis of the problem. His judgment is the basis of the problem."
Conservative media figures hid statements from President Obama and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio condemning violent protests. Instead, they misleadingly suggested the politicians were to blame for December 20 murder of two New York City police officers by a gunman, who was reportedly retaliating against the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown at the hands of police.