Howard Kurtz interviews the newest member of their "best political team on television", RedState's Erick Erickson and asks him about the hateful rhetoric that's been posted on his blog. Erickson's defense pretty much amounts to pretending he had no idea what he was saying, that he gets any traffic and he's all grown up now, so hey... no worries right? Pitiful. If CNN actually thinks this is an adequate response to their bad judgment for hiring him, they're sadly mistaken.
KURTZ: Erick Erickson made his debut this week as a CNN contributor. He is a Georgia lawyer, a church deacon, and managing editor of the conservative Web site RedState.com. Erickson's hiring generated a great deal of publicity, most of the decidedly negative variety.
I spoke with him earlier from Atlanta.
KURTZ: Erick Erickson, welcome.
ERICKSON: Thanks for having me.
KURTZ: You have been getting hammered by liberal commentators since CNN decided to bring you on as a contributor to John King's program, and it all revolves around the things that you have written. So let's just go through some of them.
KURTZ: On the administration's health care spokeswoman, you wrote, "Linda Douglass is really the Joseph Goebbels of the health care shop."
You're comparing her to a notorious Nazi?
ERICKSON: Yes, to propaganda. I probably shouldn't have said that. And to be honest with you, I got her confused with one of the congressman who, the same day she came out and was urging people to begin e-mailing in to the White House the -- forwarding on the e-mails from friends who were "misrepresenting" the president's health care plan, a congressman came out and referred to people as "brownshirts." And I got my wires crossed that day and thought, you know, if they're going to go down that road, I will too.
I probably shouldn't have, but I did.
KURTZ: Yes. And She never said that, and she assures me that she never said that.
The first lady, you wrote the following -- the headline was, "Is Obama shagging hookers behind the media's back?" And you write, "I assume not. I assume that Obama's Marxist harpy wife would go Lorena Bobbit on him should he even think about it."
Why would you describe Michelle Obama in those terms?
ERICKSON: Well, you know, back during the campaign trail in 2008, a lifetime ago, frankly, in blogging, I was very passionate, very aggressive in defending my side. And at the time that I wrote that, the Eliot Spitzer story was breaking, and the point was -- distracted by the language, obviously -- that Barack Obama was as much a creature of the media as Eliot Spitzer was. Neither have been investigated. And, you know, since that time, I've really learned, headed into, frankly, the David Souter comment, that I don't have to get personal in blogging to make my point. I've definitely evolved over time.
KURTZ: Well, let's deal with the David Souter comment. When Justice Souter announced his retirement, you said, you wrote, "The nation loses the only goat (EXPLETIVE) child molester ever to serve on the Supreme Court."
Do you regret writing that?
ERICKSON: Yes, absolutely. It was about the dumbest thing I've done.
You know, counterintuitively, I guess, some good came out of it. It was the very first time I realized, Howard, how what I do for a living affects my family as well. Having my 3-year-old heckled and booed in the front yard by a neighbor, having my wife be berated at her office, you know, being a blogger, up until that moment I always considered I was just a guy chatting with friends, even on Twitter. And I realized that I actually reached a point where people listen to what I say and care about what I say, and frankly it was a wake-up call to me that I had to grow up in how I write.
KURTZ: Well, ,you know, at a time when there's this great debate about threats against Democratic -- mostly Democratic and some Republican lawmakers in the health care debate, I stumbled upon something you wrote about a Washington State controversy in which you said, "At what point do people march down to their state legislator's house, pull them aside and beat him to a bloody pulp for being an idiot?"
Now, I assume you were being metaphorical, but some people might react differently to that.
ERICKSON: You know, the left tried to blow that one up, and I've written subsequently about that with a legislator in New York who wants to ban salt in restaurants. And I think the point is valid. The left may not like it.
I'm a local legislator myself, and I am afraid and have been since that time that we're reaching a point where reasonable people are just going to get kind of crazy with government intrusion in their lives. The particular case in that situation was Washington State banning phosphates from dishwasher detergent.
KURTZ: Yes. I understand, but I'm just talking about your language.
Let me make sure I understand now. Are you now, on RedState.com, going to forcefully make your arguments -- and nobody disputes your right do that -- without these inflammatory personal attacks?
ERICKSON: Yes, I think so. I mean, I've definitely had to grow up over time and realize that it's not just me and friends anymore.
I think everyone understands you talk in ways with friends and about things with friends you don't in public. And in some ways, when you talk about things in private and in public, you sometimes use different language. And I've definitely had to grow up and realize I am someone now on a national stage and a platform, and what I say and write affects not just me and my family, but others.
KURTZ: I've got half a minute here.
This week, David Frum, the conservative author and columnist, frequent guest on this program, was forced out by the American Enterprise Institute after he called the health care vote the Republicans' Waterloo and criticized it as a big defeat.
Does the right have a lack of tolerance for dissent?
ERICKSON: Oh, good lord, no. You know, David Frum, I think, is disingenuous to a degree.
Yesterday -- or I guess it was earlier this past week -- said that he wasn't forced out because of his Waterloo comment. He was forced out because he wasn't spending any time at AEI.
In fact, in talking to several people at AEI, they've all said the same thing, he was never there and never participated. And his story has evolved and the criticisms have evolved. David Frum is one of those Republicans who calls himself still a conservative when it's clear to me he has evolved, but people still call him that.
KURTZ: All right. Well, "never" might be overstating it slightly.
Erick Erickson, glad we had a chance to talk to you about this. Thanks very much for joining us.
ERICKSON: Thanks very much.
Transcript via CNN.