UPDATE: Erickson responded to Media Matters' post by tweeting: “Sorry Media Matters, but I happy [sic] to support a good friend. Didn't earn a penny.” Erickson did not address why much of his endorsement of his “good” friend's get-rich-quick plan was lifted from old Ann Coulter emails.
If you're relying on financial advice from Fox News contributor Erick Erickson to become a millionaire overnight, you might want to hold off on buying that boat.
Erickson emailed subscribers to his RedState.com email list this week claiming he's found the “best investment advice I know of, bar none,” in the financial newsletter of analyst Mark Skousen. Yet 12 paragraphs of Erickson's signed endorsement are virtually identical to language used by Ann Coulter in emails nearly four years ago.
Erickson's email -- titled, “How to Retire in Comfort Even If You DON'T Work in Government” -- attacks public-sector workers for purportedly living in luxury with President Barack Obama in office. He then endorsed Skousen's newsletter, which purports to reveal a “secret” system to becoming “instant millionaires.” Erickson claimed that Skousen “knows how to make you money,” and the “best investment advice I know of, bar none, can be found in Mark Skousen's Forecasts & Strategies -- and I urge you to give it a try.”
While Erickson's and Coulter's emails contain different openings -- Erickson mocks public sector employees, Coulter criticizes liberals -- the two converge when it comes to pitching Skousen's financial newsletter.
The following is a side-by-side comparison of the Skousen discussion in Erickson's email this week and Coulter's 2009 email. The language highlighted in red is identical, except for several small revisions (go here for a larger image):
Versions of Coulter's email were posted online in late 2009 on various websites, and message archives. (The image of Coulter's email was retrieved from here; Erickson's email, which can be viewed in full here, was sent to a Media Matters address with the return address, firstname.lastname@example.org. )
Erickson's “learn more” link sends readers to a page promising a “secret retirement plan” that “can make you America's Next Millionaire!” A video, narrated by Skousen, claims that “even regular people with just $10,000 or $20,000” are using this secret plan -- nicknamed the “Romney Retirement Plan” -- to become “instant millionaires.” The long, circuitous video claims that by subscribing to Skousen's newsletter (1 year for $99.95), they'll get access to the secret.
A disclaimer at the footer of the Erickson-authored email states “the following message reflects the opinions and representations of our advertiser alone, and not necessarily the opinion or editorial positions of Erick Erickson or RedState.com.”
Both Erickson's and Coulter's emails were sent through Eagle Publishing's The Human Events Group, which represents the email lists of both conservative commentators. The company lists a rate of $6,250 for renting RedState's list, though it's not clear if an Erickson-penned endorsement bumps the cost. Skousen's website, like RedState, is owned by Eagle Publishing.
Politico reported in June 2011 that Eagle Publishing was selling Erickson's endorsement “as part of an advertising package, according to an email circulated by an account executive.” A Eagle executive said the email was intended for “a handful of [conservative] organizations that have expressed an interest and that Erick feels strongly about.” Erickson responded on his website by claiming “my endorsements are not for sale. I don't know who the guy is who sent the email, but he certainly did RedState no favors.” Media Matters reported at the time that Eagle was also selling the “unprecedented opportunity” to sponsor the newsletter of Newt Gingrich, who was running for president at the time.
If Erickson is getting paid for endorsing Skousen's newsletter, that may violate Fox News policy. Fox News claimed in 2009 that it “prohibits any on-air talent from endorsing products or serving as a product spokesperson.” Fox doesn't appear to be enforcing that policy, as contributors like Keith Ablow (diet company) and Wayne Rogers (reverse mortgages) are serving as product spokesmen. Fox Business contributor Charles Payne was also compensated to endorse the now worthless stocks of at least three companies. Erickson also continues a trend of questionable financial advice from Fox personalities.
The following is a full side-by-side comparison of the Erickson and Coulter emails, with virtually similar language highlighted in red: