The conservative media has steadily advocated for Republicans to force a government shutdown, with a recent piece in the Washington Examiner saying that a shutdown "doesn't sound that bad." At the same time, however, conservative media figures are pushing the talking point that a shutdown would be the Democrats' fault.
CNN drew criticism last Friday for an article headlined "Are whites racially oppressed?" In addition to legitimizing "pro-White" commentators James Edwards and Peter Brimelow, the article quoted the president of a Texas group called "Former Majority Association for Equality" that exists solely to provide college scholarships to white men. FMAE president Colby Bohannan told CNN, "There was no one for white males until we came around."
As it turns out, that wasn't the first attention CNN gave Bohannan and the Former Majority Association for Equality. On Tuesday, March 1, CNN posted an interview with Bohannan on its web page, then devoted two segments to it during that day's edition of CNN Newsroom. During that coverage, CNN contributor Erick Erickson endorsed the FMAE's white-men-only scholarships:
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: What do you think, Erick? Isn't this just another in a multitude of specific scholarships for lots of different kinds of people?
ERICK ERICKSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Oh, absolutely. It is. If we're going to get rid of scholarships for African-Americans and get rid of scholarships for Hispanics and get rid of scholarships for Asians and get rid of scholarships for women, then let's get rid of the scholarships. But if we're not going to get rid of those, then let's keep this one.
Erickson then suggested that women, Hispanics, and Asians have not been historically disadvantaged in America:
ROMANS: But Erick, don't you think
this is a little bit different. Because we have a history that's tortured and painful in this country that makes, even today when you start talking about a white-male only scholarship it makes people kind of cringe. Because there was a time when white men frankly ruled this country and had all of the access, and the reason why we have all of these --
ERICKSON: Absolutely. But they don't anymore. You can justify that, for example, a scholarship for African-Americans, given the history of this country. But can you for Asians or Hispanics or for women? Now we've reached the point in Texas, at least, where the white men are no longer the majority in Texas.
In addition to Erickson's endorsement of the white-men-only scholarship, CNN's Newsroom coverage of the topic was noticeably unbalanced. CNN twice played video clips of Bohannan, but did not air or quote any comments by opposing advocates or experts. Five times during the broadcast, CNN anchor Christine Romans read reader comments left on CNN's web page in support of the scholarship; she only read an opposing comment once. Romans repeatedly characterized CNN readers' response to the whites-only scholarships as overwhelmingly positive without noting that there is absolutely no reason to think that comments left on a blog are a representative sample of anything. Romans even claimed "The vast majority of the comments we got on the blog support the scholarship, and these are people of all different ages and races," suggesting that support for whites-only scholarship is strong among all demographics. But she had no way of knowing that the blog comments (which aren't a representative sample of anything anyway) really were from "people of all different ages and races."
Though CNN didn't quote or refer to any experts or advocates who disagree with Bohannan, an ABC News article last week quoted a spokesman for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board noting that Bohannan's central premise is flawed:
"Our largest state-funded financial aid program is the Texas Grants program, and in 2009 we served about 63,000 students," said Dominic Chavez at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, which promotes greater access to higher education in the state.
"I am not sure I accept the premise that these programs are targeting students of color," Chavez said. "These programs are targeted to poor Texans. There is no consideration of race [or] ethnicity for the allocation of these awards."
The board's goal is to increase enrollment of every single ethnic group in higher education by 5.7 percent -- that includes whites as well as blacks, Asians and Hispanics, said Chavez, who pointed out that college enrollment rates are down among males across all ethnic groups.
Looks like someone at CNN told contributor Erick Erickson to post an update to his smear of Washington Post reporter Greg Sargent, detailed here yesterday. Unfortunately, Erickson's update is just further nonsense, but I won't go into that here -- if you're interested, just read Erickson's update along with my post from yesterday and Sargent's.
Erickson's continued dishonesty about what Sargent wrote isn't really the interesting part -- after all, continued dishonesty is an Erickson specialty. The interesting part is the editor's note at the end of the update:
Editor's Note: The blog is a place for a freewheeling exchange of ideas and opinions. CNN does not endorse anything said by its contributors.
It's great that CNN is starting to feel some heat over its relationship with Erickson, but this doesn't fly. Erickson's CNN-hosted attack on Sargent wasn't an "exchange of ideas," it was a one-sided hit job. Even the update isn't an "exchange of ideas and opinions" -- if it was, it would contain some views of what happened other than Erickson's.
And the part about CNN not endorsing anything its contributors say? There are a few problems with that. CNN pays Erick Erickson. It gives him a television and internet platform. It promotes his comments. CNN's John King invites Erickson to attack liberals, then adopts Erickson's attacks in his own reporting. And in doing so, King ignores Erickson's history of doing the very things he attacks liberals for.
CNN can't credibly claim Erickson is just part of a "freewheeling exchange of ideas" when it treats him with kid gloves. And it can't credibly say it doesn't endorse his comments when John King invites him to level hypocritical attacks on liberals, then amplifies those attacks, all without questioning Erickson about the hypocrisy. Repeatedly.
If CNN wants to distance itself from Erickson, it's going to have to do better than this.
Washington Post reporter Greg Sargent notes that John King's CNN blog has posted a bogus attack on Sargent by CNN contributor Erick Erickson. Erickson pretends Sargent "encourag[ed] unions in Wisconsin to get violent," which, as Sargent ably explains, is nonsense. In fact, even Erickson acknowledges that Sargent was being sarcastic, though he does not seem to grasp the fact that Sargent was tweaking conservatives who have been so eager to decry union violence that they seem to be rooting for it to occur, just so they have something to complain about.
Anyway, Sargent doesn't need my help debunking Erickson's silly claims. And, as Sargent notes, the bigger problem is that CNN and John King are giving those silly claims a platform:
This kind of misdirection and and sleight of hand, of course, is par for the course for a huckster like Erickson. But you'd think King and the professional journalists at CNN would check out the facts of the matter before disseminating such an incendiary charge, particularly given Erickson's track record.
At bottom this is another cautionary tale, akin to the recent episodes involving Andrew Breitbart, about what happens when real news organizations let people like Erickson smuggle their complete absence of standards onto their platform. I'm assuming King and the other reputable journalists at CNN are unaware of what Erickson did here, since it's hard to imagine they'd be okay with CNN.com enabling Erickson's efforts to smear another reporter for political reasons.
Now, here's what's really appalling about all this: CNN and John King are promoting Erick Erickson's false claims about Sargent without noting Erickson's own history of violent rhetoric. This is becoming something of a habit for King and CNN, who have repeatedly invited Erickson to denounce rhetoric coming from liberals, all while politely avoiding mention of Erickson's own track record. Which, for those who are unfamiliar with Erickson's work, includes talking about pulling shotguns on government officials and beating state legislators to a "bloody pulp for being an idiot."
So, to sum up: CNN and John King are ignoring CNN contributor Erick Erickson's history of violent rhetoric, even as they invite him to criticize liberals' rhetoric and promote his falsehoods about Sargent.
CNN's Erick Erickson spent much of the January 31 broadcast of his radio show discussing criticism of the fast-food chain Chick-fil-A for its support for anti-gay organizations -- and in doing so, Erickson agreed with a caller who asserted that gays "have nothing to be happy about" and did not disagree with the same caller's explanation that "their life is perverted. It's evil." Erickson also suggested that gays cannot be part of "real families" and condoned workplace discrimination against gays and non-Christians.
A January 29 New York Times article noted that Chick-fil-A has faced criticism for "strict hiring practices, which require potential operators to discuss their marital status and civic and church involvement" (the company settled a lawsuit filed by a Muslim restaurant owner who said he was fired for not praying to Jesus) and that "the company's operators, its WinShape Foundation and the Cathy family have given millions of dollars to a variety of causes and programs, including … groups working to defeat same-sex marriage initiatives." Most recently, a Pennsylvania Chick-fil-A franchise's "sponsorship of a February marriage seminar by one of that state's most outspoken groups against homosexuality" drew criticism.
And Erick Erickson knows all of that -- we know he knows it because he read a portion of that very article on-air. But despite being aware of the fact that Chick-fil-A settled a lawsuit filed by an employee who says he was fired for not praying to Jesus, Erickson repeatedly downplayed the Chick-fil-A controversy, pretending it is based entirely on the donation of some chicken sandwiches by an individual franchise, and mockingly claiming that Chick-fil-A critics are complaining that the company is racist for serving only white meat.
Here's how Erickson explains the controversy:
ERICKSON: The gays are boycotting Chick-fil-A because a Chick-fil-A franchisor -- not the company, ladies and gentlemen, not the corporation, not all of the Chick-fil-A operators in the country, one Chick-fil-A independent franchisor in Pennsylvania provided free food to a nonprofit group that just happens to be conservative, and supports families. Like, real families.
Erickson knows that isn't true -- he's read a New York Times article that explains that there have been complaints about the parent company, not just an "independent franchisor in Pennsylvania." In other words, he's lying. (And, in doing so, implying that "real families" do not include gays.)
Following GOProud's invitation to participate in the annual conservative conference CPAC, many social conservatives objected, with several groups--including the Heritage Foundation and the Media Research Center--vowing to boycott the event, in part because of gay conservative group's inclusion. As CPAC begins, many in the right-wing media have taken sides against GOProud.
Erick Erickson is the latest conservative to take sides in the battle between social conservatives and GOProud, a gay conservative organization. In a post on Red State, Erickson claimed GOProud "is not a conservative organization" after GOProud co-founder Chris Barron called conservative lawyer Cleta Mitchell a "bigot." From Red State:
I have, for me, shown an amazing amount of restraint in keeping my mouth shut on an issue about which I can stay silent no longer -- GOProud and CPAC.
I have done my best to stay out of this business, keep my mouth shut, and appreciate my friends on both sides of the CPAC divide. Had I not seen this particular attack by GOProud against long time solid conservatives I'd continue keeping my mouth shut. But this is too much. And my guess is that there aren't many if any willing to call foul, so I will do it.
As someone who spent time trying to give them the benefit of the doubt, I accept this as conclusive proof that, while it is a Republican organization, GOProud is not a conservative organization.
Those groups and people who have sat out CPAC this year have done so not because they hate the gays, as Grover Norquist and GOProud would have you believe, but because GOProud is not a conservative organization and its agenda is not a conservative agenda.
For that, they are called losers and nasty bigots.
These losers and nasty bigots have done a lot more for the conservative movement than GOProud. And I am very happy to call them my friends.
This week, I'd much rather be with them than be at CPAC.
Conservative media figures have attacked Republicans for voting to repeal a provision of the health care reform bill that mandates the businesses file 1099 forms to the IRS when they purchase more than $600 worth of goods or services from a vendor. These media figures also warn Republicans not to support similar measures in the future. They say the 1099 provision hurts business, but argue that voting for such provision is a "trap" for Republicans who want to repeal the entire health care reform bill.
On February 2, 81 senators voted in favor of a repeal of the 1099 provision, which both Republicans and Democrats, including President Obama, have called overly burdensome. Since then conservative media figures have been attacking Republicans for their vote:
Erickson and Thiessen both state that the 1099 provision was harmful to businesses. So why do they argue against its repeal? In Erickson's words: "[D]oing this, instead of keeping the pain in place until Obamacare is repealed, makes the pain less and less. And as the pain becomes less and less because Republicans work with Democrats to 'fix' Obamacare, it becomes less and less likely that Obamacare will actually get repealed."
But are these conservative commentators really deluded enough to think that repeal of the Affordable Care Act is just around the corner? Perhaps. Or perhaps they are afraid that with a few fixes, calling for repeal of the health care reform law will become a real loser politically.
Erick Erickson claims Media Matters has bolstered his allegation that the Obama administration suppressed an annual CDC report on abortion statistics because we posted an email showing that the abortion report was submitted to CDC's scientific publication for review and editing in November. According to Erickson, the fact that the report was not published promptly after it was submitted for review is evidence that CDC "suppress[ed]" the report. That's some pretty strained reasoning. (SEE UPDATE BELOW: Editor of the publication explains why Erickson's claim is false.) Moreover, it's clear that Erickson didn't read our item.
For one thing, he's still claiming that "each year since 1969 the Centers for Disease Control has published its 'Abortion Surveillance System' the week after Thanksgiving," which we showed was simply not true. Either Erickson is deliberately misleading people about this, or he didn't read our item, which noted that while the report was published in November during most of the Bush administration, the publication date has varied greatly in the past.
Erickson further claims:
In a February 4 tweet, CNN contributor Erick Erickson wrote, "I'm really beginning to believe all the stories that Obama hates the Brits because of family history. His utter contempt for the UK is nuts":
Erickson later clarified, "Geez, no I don't actually think Obama's issue with Britain is daddy issues, but it really is bizarre and irrational":
On RedState.com, CNN contributor Erick Erickson claimed that the Obama Administration has canceled an annual Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report on abortion statistics because it is "afraid of the truth," and continued to insist that the report was "killed" even after the CDC said it was merely delayed and will be published. Indeed, an internal CDC email obtained by Media Matters shows that the report was submitted for review and editing on November 12.
Right-wing media have seized on the conflict in Egypt to attack President Obama by comparing him to former President Carter and the Iranian uprising in the late '70s. However, experts have noted that comparing the uprising in Egypt to the 1979 Iranian revolution is "dangerously misleading."
In a February 2 post on his blog Red State, CNN contributor and conservative blogger Erick Erickson wrote that while "[w]e cannot blame Barack Obama for Egypt collapsing in on itself," Obama should be blamed for "failing to mitigate and control the impact of the collapse." He further claimed, without evidence, that "Obama collaborated to help bring down Egypt." From Erickson's post:
We cannot blame Barack Obama for Egypt collapsing in on itself.
We can however blame Barack Obama for failing to mitigate and control the impact of the collapse.
Like when a demolition team sets about bringing down a crumbling building -- and we now know Obama collaborated to help bring down Egypt -- the demolition team must make sure the building, as it implodes, does not throw debris and carnage all over the place. If that happens, the demolition team is liable.
Barack Obama is liable, given this:
The Obama administration said for the first time that it supports a role for groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, a banned Islamist organization, in a reformed Egyptian government.
The organization must reject violence and recognize democratic goals if the U.S. is to be comfortable with it taking part in the government, the White House said. [Red State, 2/2/11, Los Angeles Times, 1/31/11]
In his State of the Union address, President Obama called for a new era of innovation by saying "this is our Sputnik moment," referencing the 1960s-era space race that began after the Soviet Union launched the Sputnik satellite. Right-wing media attacked Obama's remarks by taking the metaphor literally and criticizing Obama's NASA policy.
CNN's Erick Erickson on President Obama's State of the Union address:
The speech is not playing well really anywhere. Leftwing sites don't like it. Rightwing sites don't like it. And largely even the media is admitting the speech fell flat.
Huffington Post's Mark Blumenthal, on the same speech:
The results of the instant snap polls by CBS News,CNN/ORC and the Democratic pollsters atDemocracy Corps all show overwhelmingly positive responses to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address from Tuesday night.
I don't really care whether Erickson liked the speech, and I'm not surprised that he didn't. After all, there wasn't much talk of Erickson priorities like beating government officials to a "bloody pulp" and "mass bloodshed." But I do care about the lying. As usual, the overwhelming majority of State of the Union viewers responded positively to the speech.