Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Erick the Red

"I've joined the network. Starting next Monday, you'll be seeing a lot of me. I'm very excited by the opportunity. Thanks for the prayers and well wishes. This is the path God put me on and it was totally unexpected, but I go where the good Lord leads."

-- editor Erick Erickson, announcing to his readers that he's accepted a job as a paid regular contributor to CNN's new 7pm show John King, USA

CNN Political Director Sam Feist calls Erickson "a terrific new addition to the BPToTV" (that stands for "Best Political Team on Television," for those of you with lives); he goes on to refer to him as a guy who's "in touch with the very people" CNN wants to reach -- proving that CNN is still misguidedly assuming it can somehow put so much as a dent in Fox's coveted NASCAR demographic.

If you know anything at all about Erick Erickson's reputation, you know that word of his new paying gig at CNN immediately caused the left-wing blogosphere to lose its collective shit. Media Matters responded by quickly compiling what it sees as a damning list of ostensibly crude and hateful comments made by Erickson against favorite conservative targets on the left, like feminists (who he says need to "get in the kitchen and learn to cook"), liberal supreme court justices (he called the retiring David Souter a "goat fucking child molester") and, of course, Barack Obama (whose supporters he calls "brownshirts, goons and thugs"). Meanwhile, left-leaning Twitter uses have spent the past 18 hours inundating CNN political reporters' and managers' accounts with bloodthirsty outrage and a barrage of questions as to why CNN would allow itself to be so blatantly taken for a ride by the right, the implication seeming to be that somehow CNN wasn't fully aware of just who Erickson was when it hired him -- that the network hadn't properly vetted him.

Except that it was, and it did.

Make no mistake, CNN knows exactly what it's getting with Erickson -- and it wants just that. Sam Feist's a spectacular asshole, and his fingerprints are all over this hire; as much as I'd love to wind up eating my words, I can't imagine a scenario in which a blogger uprising from the left would make Feist and CNN reconsider putting Erickson on the air. In fact, they're probably enjoying the immediate rush of attention that they'd counted on all along. You don't give a forum to a guy who worships at the swollen feet of Rush Limbaugh and not expect him to draw controversy; on the contrary, it's why you hire him in the first place. What'll be interesting to see, though, is how strong CNN's backbone is should Erickson, in fact, get off his leash and begin spouting even mildly inflammatory rhetoric on national television. Yes, CNN knows what it's getting itself into, but the surprising flame-out of Lou Dobbs -- the credit for which can indeed be laid partially on bloggers who felt that he should be held accountable for his incendiary rhetoric -- proves that the situation is always fluid. Still, it's really Erickson's gig to lose; if he pulls a Michael Savage -- which is highly unlikely since even Erickson isn't that much of a spiteful prick -- he could find himself kicked back to the media underbelly before he's even on a first name basis with the driver of his free CNN Town Car.

The issue that I have with the Erickson hire isn't so much that it somehow validates his often ass-backward opinions or the way in which he voices them; it's that by putting someone so flagrantly partisan on the air under the auspices of CNN's generally respectable and trustworthy political department, the network will now have to balance out his analysis with a point of view that's equally extreme in the opposite direction. What this will lead to is simply more of what Jon Stewart once justly decried as "partisan hackery" from CNN's political analysts. But once again, make no mistake, the kind of ridiculous, entirely predictable conflict that's sure to arise from Erick Erickson and whatever liberal counterpart they put against him is just what CNN wants to see on television.

Feist and Company think it'll make for great TV -- and it probably will. But it'll make for really mind-numbing political discourse.


CNNfan said...

Are you saying they are trying to undo what Jon Stewart did to Crossfire hosts Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala with his "partisan hackery" attack?

Poor Jon Stewart...
He's about to lose some ratings to CNN.

Shannon from Saskatoon said...

Here is a great comic which suggests that we all may well die laughing. It contrasts the view of conspiracy and control versus humanity's own penchant for spectacle and simplicity.

I don't see that the two views can't happily coexist, and do every day, courtesy of our mass media.

toastie said...

I was somewhat hoping that John King could be a sane news option at 7 if I didn't wanted to listen to the shrill smugness of Chris Mathews. But it sounds like King's show is going for the same circus-like feel as its rivals.

Why isn't there room in my 200 channels for a real news network? Why is a Jon Stewart five-minute interview with Elizabeth Warren the only time I feel like I'm learning anything?

Chris said...

Jon Stewart has it right with the partisan hackery comment.
I mourn the loss of fair and balanced reporting. Unfortunately it doesn't bring in the ratings; whereas two people from extreme ends of the spectrum do.

So when is Jenny McCarthy replacing Sanjay Gupta?

Ranylt Richildis said...

What happens when this guy meets a feminist who loves to cook and cooks often and well? Does his peabrain go "pop" and leak out one nostril?

Chez said...

Believe it or not, I really don't give Erickson crap for his rude comments. To react with shock and indignation is to pretend that no one on the other side has ever said the exact same thing about guys like Erickson. I can't in good conscience play the role of the offended just because I happen to occasionally align myself with the people or groups the right is targeting. For Christ's sake, if I ever wound up as a TV pundit -- yeah, right -- just about anyone could have a field day with me. I've fired off one incendiary comment after another in all directions, curse like a fucking truck driver, have made borderline racist and sexist jokes (that's the key: jokes) and even made fun of the death of Kanye West's mother. I mean, I write online -- the freedom to be crude as hell is often what it's all about.

Let he who is without snark cast the first stone.

Anonymous said...

I am at a loss WHY CNN thinks it needs to embrace the NASCAR sect from Alabama. Am I totally clueless in the sense I never recognized their "liberal" slant before? Or just trying to bring over viewers from FOX I imagine, but WHY??????????

And I suppose, Mr. Erickson, God brought you to CNN because his 'word' is not reaching out far enough. Perhaps Roger Ailes is not divine enough?

Alanna said...

I argue the best theme for Mr. E's program would be "Apathy" by KMFDM.

Jardon said...

The blogosphere and twitters may go after "CNN political reporters' and managers' accounts", but if they want to make a difference and have their opinion count then they need to go after the advertisers who air commercials on CNN and/or those segments. It shouldn't be expected for whores to not want to make easy money. When whores lose money through advertising suddenly they will realize that their wrong actions have consequences.