March 28, 2010

As Media Matters has been tracking, here's the latest defense by the right on the racial slurs directed at Democratic members of Congress: "Right-wing blogs trivialize threats, make excuses, blame Democrats". During this segment from John King's new show on CNN, he allows right wing blogger turned CNN contributor Erick Erickson to do just that. King makes sure to stop the clock on the segment before Amy Goodman has a chance to rebut him.

Transcript via CNN.

KING: As Congress heads home to find out what the voters think, we take "The Pulse" of America. With us today from Atlanta, CNN contributor Erick Erickson, he's the editor-in-chief of the conservative blog and in New York, Amy Goodman, the host and executive producer of "Democracy Now!", a daily independent news program.

All right, so the big question is, is this stimulus deja vu, stimulus passed, the Democrats thought it would help them; they went home and they found a lot of feisty, angry Americans out there. Amy, there's some evidence of a little bit of a Democratic bounce with the health care passage. The challenge now is to sell it to a still very skeptical public. What is your sense of the mood?

GOODMAN: Well, I think also, at the very last minute, this issue of Senator Coburn standing up and stopping the extension of unemployment and COBRA benefits for what, one million jobless Americans in this type of recession, this is not going to help the Republicans. People are being hit very hard all over this country -- how many -- one in five homeowners are under water with their mortgages.

This is just unacceptable, the condition of America. You talk about health care, it's significant. Now they're going to go home and talk about perhaps 30 million more Americans getting insured, kids with preexisting conditions being taken care of. I don't think Republicans can lobby against that, although single-payer advocates, people who believe in health care for all, might be dissatisfied, not just Republicans who say protect the big insurance companies but those who are more progressive who would like to see this kind of health care coverage for everyone.

KING: So, Erick, to Amy's point, Republicans want to go home and say the health care bill cost too much. The government doesn't have that money, it gives the government too much power. I know you agree with Senator Coburn when it comes to look we have to pay for this. If we're going to give the $10 billion for unemployment benefits we have to cut it elsewhere in the budget. But in the political climate with the pain of unemployment still so high in many places, do you think it could hurt politically even though you agree with him on the policy?

ERICKSON: Actually, I disagree with Senator Coburn to the extent that I think they need to stop extending unemployment, and he doesn't. But I don't think it's going to hurt Republicans. They're going home and their facing a lot of angry voters, voters who hear about this preexisting condition for children and they'll realize, oops, they forgot to actually put it in there in a timely way. The unemployment benefits, there are more and more people thinking, you know, maybe we need to stop doing this. And then the stimulus bill, along with the health care bill, we're hearing more and more employers already warning their employees that health care costs are now going to skyrocket and jobs aren't coming back any time soon.

KING: What about the rawness of the climate? We have seen these threats, we have seen some heated rhetoric. Erick, I noted the first thing you did in your blog posting this morning was say, look, the threats, the potential act of violence, all of that must stop, make it about the policy. Congressman Cantor, I should note, had an event yesterday saying he thought a bullet had been fired through his window.

The police now say that was random gunfire but there have been other threats against both Democrats and Republicans in this environment. Amy, to you first, do you have hope that whatever your opinion on this issue that people will be civil in the break and maybe be feisty and stand up at town halls but politely, or do you worry there's a coarsening that could take a turn for the worse?

GOODMAN: Oh I'm very concerned about that. You know when Sarah Palin talks about Republicans reloading and puts the crosshairs on Democratic districts around the country, this is of deep concern. When you have African-American Congress members being hit with racial epithets, when you have Barney Frank, an openly gay congressman hit with a homophobic epithet, these are very serious times. Not to mention these serious, perhaps, well who knows what happened to Congressman Wiener with this white powder that was sent to him.

And there should be warnings by the Republicans, stop this now, not amping it up like we saw Sarah Palin do. It make me think of the song, John, at the end of John McCain and Sarah Palin's event today in Tucson, I was shocked that they used White Snake "Here I Go Again" because it sounds like here they go again. And if you go to their Web site you see them oh, supporting groups like "Huffington Post", they refer you to "Raw Story" and "Common Dreams". It's very funny he would use this again.

KING: Erick, comment quickly on that point. We have a liberal and a conservative here who both say they condemn the violence. How do we throw the circuit breaker?

ERICKSON: Well you know I think it's very hard to throw the circuit breaker when you have got Democrats making disingenuous arguments, making claims that aren't existing. I mean take, for example, the John Lewis racial epithet that all the video shows didn't happen or the Sarah Palin nonsense that she's putting targets on Democratic districts. That's been going on since I've been in politics for the last decade and a half.


ERICKSON: All of a sudden, oh, my God, this is terrible. It's ridiculous. If this wasn't happening right now, and the Democrats needing to change the narrative back in their favor by playing victim and playing up these stories, some of which didn't happen, we wouldn't be having this conversation. This -- things were just as bad, just as heated when Bush was president with the Patriot Act and the Iraq war, but you didn't see Republicans running to the camera crying about it.

KING: All right, we're not going to settle this debate, obviously. I do hope that the debate during the recess is more civil and there are no threats.


KING: Just (INAUDIBLE). Amy Goodman, Erick Erickson, appreciate your spending some time with us on a Friday night.

ERICKSON: Thank you.

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