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.