On Tuesday, Hannity's "Great American Panel" included CNN contributor Erick Erickson and WorldNetDaily.com senior writer and discredited birther Jerome Corsi. Erickson seemed right at home along Sean Hannity and Corsi, which makes it all the more curious why CNN would allow him to appear.
It was not Erickson's first appearance on Hannity since joining CNN and Hannity only mentioned Erickson's RedState.com credentials when introducing him.
Whether or not CNN was fully aware of (or cared about) Erickson's history of inflammatory rhetoric before hiring him as a contributor, it is now responsible for his rhetoric since he joined the network.
Since the network's March 16 announcement, Erickson has suggested he'll resort to violence against census workers and claimed that President Obama "really doesn't like the military" because he didn't lay a wreath at Arlington Cemetery on Memorial Day.
Erickson has said he got a "nice deal" from CNN. So why is CNN still paying Erickson if they're going to let him go on Fox News (presumably) for free?
If you thought the conservative freak out over news that President Obama plans to attend a Memorial Day ceremony in his hometown of Chicago while Vice President Biden lays a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery couldn't get any stupider than Erick Erickson's claim that it shows Obama "really doesn't like the military," you were wrong.
Enter Fox & Friends.
This morning, Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade, historian (with a tenuous grasp on recent history) Richard Miller, National Review's Andrew McCarthy, and former Harry Reid aide Penny Lee discussed the "news" of Obama's Memorial Day plans, accompanied by chyrons featuring the text "Trampling On Tradition?", "Offensive To Soldiers?" and "Memorial Day Miss-Out?"
In order to "Trample on Tradition" as the chyron suggests, or "break tradition" as Kilmeade stated, Obama's decision to attend a ceremony in Chicago instead of Arlington would have to be unprecedented. It isn't.
CNN's new contributor Erick Erickson says President Obama, "really doesn't like the military," evidently because Obama is "skipping the Memorial Day tradition of the President laying a wreath" at Arlington Cemetery.
That's pretty weak evidence that Obama "doesn't like the military." Erickson himself notes that it's "not unprecedented" for a president to miss the ceremony, and Obama is not skipping out on the day in favor of a vacation. He's reportedly going to observe Memorial Day at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery's ceremony.
From Erickson's post on RedState.com:
Barack Obama is skipping the Memorial Day tradition of the President laying a wreath at the tomb of the unknowns. It is not unprecedented. George H. W. Bush was on the campaign trail in 1992 and scheduled to speak at an American Legions event in Maine on Memorial Day.
There was no question they [troops] respected and loved Ronald Reagan. Same with George H. W. Bush, the last veteran of World War II to serve as President.
Obama? Not so much. And what does the left do when you point this out? They equate dead soldiers to political props/ Seriously.
By suggesting this President, in the midst of a war, should probably be going to Arlington National Cemetery for Memorial Day instead of taking his second vacation in a month, conservatives are somehow suggesting he use dead soldiers as political props.
After eight years of the left demanding publicity of flag draped coffins returning to Deleware from overseas to use as political props against George W. Bush, it is more than a little humorous to have the left now accuse the right of doing the same. It also ignores a fundamental point leftists too busy calling our soldiers "war criminals" and our dead soldiers "political props" miss -- going to Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath at the tomb of the unknowns has nothing to do with using dead soldiers as political props and everything to do with a Commander in Chief who seems to not like the military showing some basic respect to the men and women, alive and dead, who have actually kept us free.
Obama may talk about the government in the first person, but the men and women lying at Arlington know differently.
Of course, Obama really doesn't like the military, does he. [A period there, not a question mark, is intentional]
Conservative media have attacked President Obama, claiming that his plans to attend a Memorial Day ceremony in Chicago while allowing Vice President Joe Biden to lay a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery are disrespectful to the military. However, previous presidents -- including Ronald Reagan -- allowed others to lay the wreath at Arlington to honor fallen troops.
Back in April, CNN pundit Erick Erickson said he would "pull out my wife's shotgun and see how that little ACS twerp likes being scared at the door" if a representative of the Census Department's American Community Survey tried to arrest him for not filling out his form. And now this from Yuba City, CA:
A Yuba City woman who police say was involved in a confrontation with a U.S. Census worker was shot and killed by Yuba City officers after allegedly refusing to drop a shotgun pointed at the officers, according to the Yuba City Police Department.
Census Bureau spokesman Sonny Le said a census worker arrived at the home sometime around 8 p.m. Thursday. After refusing to submit to census questions, the worker said the residents aimed a gun at her.
Census workers are gathering information that is important to the future of American communities. The last thing they need is a CNN pundit unnecessarily adding hostility to the atmosphere.
From the May 11 edition of CNN's John King, USA
Loading the player reg...
Right-wing media figures have perpetuated the falsehood that Elena Kagan banned military recruiters from Harvard Law School during her tenure as dean. Not only did students have access to military recruiters throughout Kagan's tenure, Media Matters for America has learned that military recruitment did not drop as a result of Kagan's actions.
In early April, I joked that it appeared as if CNN was gearing up to produce a Conservative in America documentary following in the footsteps of its Black in America and Latino in America series of documentaries.
As I noted at the time, CNN had just hired Red State editor Erick Erickson as a contributor despite his history of incendiary, hateful rhetoric. The network had also been caught red-handed attacking its "critics on the left" as it pitched conservative blogs on its coverage of the Tea party.
Well, it appears that my attempt at humor wasn't too far off base. David Weigel reports for the WashingtonPost.com Right Now blog:
Anti-gay activist Ryan Sorba angles for CNN special
At this year's Conservative Political Action Conference, California activist Ryan Sorba got a taste of infamy when he used his two minutes on stage to bash the event's organizers for allowing the gay Republican group GOProud to co-sponsor it.
But Sorba dealt with the aftermath well. He made the rounds at March's Tea Party Express rally in Searchlight, Nev., where he met reporters for CNN. The result, according to his Facebook page:
Weigel went on to report that CNN wouldn't comment on the story and that Sorba was apparently overselling his role in the documentary noting he was "one of several conservatives that producers have spoken to" from the movement.
Seriously CNN, as if your fawning coverage of the Tea Party Express wasn't enough, now the fringe right-wing of this country needs its own documentary? Why not just tune your cable box to Fox News?
Media conservatives have levied the completely baseless allegation that the White House was "colluding" with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in filing a civil lawsuit accusing Goldman Sachs of fraud in order to create a "villain" to "bolster support for the crackdown on the banks from the White House." The media figures have offered no evidence to support the allegation, which the White House has strongly denied.
After the Security and Exchange Commission accused Goldman Sachs of fraud, numerous right-wing media figures have accused the Obama administration of attempting "to destroy Goldman Sachs" in order to "shift public opinion" in favor of financial reform. Simultaneously, conservative media have also falsely claimed that the financial reform legislation creates a "permanent bailout fund," which is "the payoff" Wall Street "has been waiting for."
From the April 9 edition of CNN's John King USA:
Loading the player reg...
I thought my colleague, Ben Dimiero, landed a pretty funny joke today when he wrote:
Speaking of Supreme Court justices, let's check in quickly with the man who once called Justice Souter a "goat-fucking child molester." I'm referring to the newest addition to CNN's "Best Political Team on Television," Erick Erickson.
Unfortunately, for CNN, this isn't a joke; they're apparently bringing their newest contributor on tonight to discuss Justice Stevens' retirement.
Can't want to hear what the new, "grow[n] up" version of Erickson has to say about Stevens!
On the April 1 broadcast of his radio show, CNN contributor Erick Erickson said that he'll "[p]ull out my wife's shotgun" if the government tries to arrest him for not filling out the American Community Survey. In response to the controversy over Erickson's remark, Mediaite's Tommy Christopher reports that a "source at CNN" said that the network thinks it's "important that Erick explain those comments, and he has done just that." From Christopher's April 9 article:
Fact Check - CNN:
Your Commentator Threatened to Pull a Shotgun on a Federal Employee - That's pretty much it, although it is curious that CNN would consider mentioning their affiliation to Erick an "attack."
A source at CNN tells Mediaite,"We think its [sic] important that Erick explain those comments, and he has done just that."
I asked Bill Press to comment on CNN's response, and he responded, "In other words, according to CNN, it's ok to pull a shotgun on a federal employee, as long as you explain it."
That's what it sounds like, so let's see how Erickson explains:
ACS Surveyors are getting belligerent and have showed up on people's doorsteps to harass them and threaten jail. I said if some ACS person showed up on my doorstep to try to arrest me for not wanting to tell the government how often I flush my toilet I'd get out my wife's shotgun and get them off my property.
The key distinction he appears to be making is the qualifier "try to arrest me," but if you listen to the complete audio, Erickson never alleges that any ACS census worker tried to arrest anyone, or threatened anyone with jail time. You know why? Because they can't. There is no jail penalty for failure to answer the ACS. There are for aggravated assault.
In CNN's defense, they aren't required to agree with everything their commentators say. MSNBC doesn't have to answer for everything that comes out of Pat Buchanan's mouth, for example.
On the other hand, their decision to attack Bill Press for asking about it kind of opens the door to the question. Apparently, they are satisfied with Erickson's answer.
As Media Matters has noted, Erickson has doubled down on his "shotgun" remark and lashed out at critics. In March 2009, Erickson similarly suggested that he'd respond to potential problems with the government by pulling out a firearm.
First it hired Erick Erickson, the editor of the far-right RedState.com, an embarrassing move to say the least. After all, it was Erickson who just a year ago posted on his Twitter profile that then-Supreme Court Justice David Souter was a "goat fucking child molester."
Fear not though, Erickson made his way to CNN's Reliable Sources for an interview with Howard Kurtz in which the right-wing blogger claimed to have "grown up" since making that and other hateful and incendiary comments.
It's nice to see a grown man mature so quickly in just a single year!
Then, just days after his interview with Kurtz, he was back to his old self. Pulling the political equivalent of a Benjamin Button, Erickson reverted back to his previous non "grown up" state claiming on his local radio show: I'll "[p]ull out my wife's shotgun" if they try to arrest me for not filling out the American Community Survey.
Well, CNN has apparently only just begun its efforts to court the likes of Erickson and his friends in the conservative blogosphere.
Mediaite's Tommy Christopher writes:
Newsbusters credits CNN for what it considers to be "one of the first to offer fair coverage of the Tea Party movement outside of Fox News," while bringing up the infamous Susan Roesgen report from a Tea Party last year.
At the same time, they wonder why CNN is pushing the story so hard to conservative blogs, illustrating this with emails from CNN's PR department. This one was reportedly sent to Michelle Malkin:
"Hi there, I thought this might be an interesting post for you- a behind-the-scenes piece about the Tea Party and how the stereotypes don't tell the full story. Let me know if you need anything else!"
There's nothing all that sinister here. This kind of email is pretty standard PR promotion.
"Clearly our critics from the left don't think we should be covering the Tea Party movement in the way we are and clearly CNN thinks it's a legitimate and important story.
If anyone from Newsbusters is interested in this angle - let me know."
I'm guessing the CNN checklist looks something like this:
Hire Erick Erickson? Check.
Heap coverage on the Tea Party movement? Check.
Get in touch with Michelle Malkin? Check.
Drop a line to Brent Bozell? Check.
What's next, Andrew Breitbart hosting a very special Conservative in America?