A reflection on the latest outrage of Erick Erickson, the conservative CNN commentator and editor of RedState
Erick Erickson is showing his dark side again.
Almost two years ago, CNN hired the Georgia attorney and editor* of the RedState blogging platform to serve as a political pundit. It's easy to see why they'd be attracted to his occasionally keen insights, and mainstream media outlets routinely make the mistake of imagining that they'll no longer be under attack from conservatives if they hire someone with the right bona fides. Even so, the move surprised a lot of people, for reasons made evident in the video above. Who'd have thought the network would hire a man who compared an Obama Administration official to a Nazi propagandist, called Michelle Obama a "Marxist harpy" who would chop the president's penis off if he ever cheated on her, and described Supreme Court Justice David Souter as a "goat-fucking child molester"? This is, after all, a network that terminated a highly respected correspondent after 20 years on the job for sending a single tweet!
Like Andrew Breitbart, whose Twitter archive contains a pathological amount of deliberately generated hatred, and Mark Levin, who daily comes close to bursting a blood vessel and once told a female caller that her husband would be better off if he put a gun to his head, Erickson and his rise are difficult to separate from the general phenomenon of right-wing anger, something he stoked and harnessed. He built his audience by demonizing political and ideological opponents, often with violent rhetoric. "At what point do people walk down to their state legislator's house, pull them aside, and beat him to a bloody pulp for being an idiot?" he wrote on another occasion. There is no evidence Erickson's words ever directly inspired violence. He even came close to apologizing in the clip above, acknowledged the need to grow up, and dialed back his rhetoric.