CNN announced today that conservative blogger Erick Erickson will join the network next week as a paid political commentator, primarily paired with John King on his new 7 p.m. show. Erickson, editor of the leading conservative blog RedState, also announced the selection on his blog. CNN’s decision is not surprising, as the network in recent months has increasingly turned to Erickson for political commentary. In a statement posted on CNN, the network praised Erickson’s “exceptional knowledge of politics, as well as his role as a conservative opinion leader.”
The selection of Erickson as a regular commentator raises the question of whether CNN is willing to sanction his record of offensive comments. In just the past year, Erickson has made several racial and violent statements that cast a poor light on his role as a “conservative opinion leader”:
— Erickson applauded protesters who descended on Capitol Hill Nov. 5, 2009, to, as he characterized, “send Obama to a death panel.” He later edited the post and changed the reference to Obamacare. [11/5/09]
— Erickson called White House Health Care Communications Director Linda Douglass “the Joseph Goebbels of the White House Health Care shop.” [10/12/09]
— Weighing in on Justice David Souter’s retirement from the Supreme Court: “The nation loses the only goat f**king child molester to ever serve on the Supreme Court…” [4/30/09]
— Responding to the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s selection of President Barack Obama to receive the 2009 Peace Prize, Erickson tweeted: “I did not realize the Nobel Committee had affirmative action quotas it had to meet.” [10/9/09]
— Reacting to a proposed Washington state regulation on dish soap aimed at easing water pollution: “At what point do the people tell the politicians to go to hell? At what point do they get off the couch, march down to their state legislator’s house, pull him outside, and beat him to a bloody pulp for being an idiot?” [3/31/09]
While Erickson has been editor of RedState, the blog was at the center of a false right-wing smear of the network’s integrity. The blog erroneously supported a false assertion by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) that CNN journalist Michael Ware had heckled him during a press conference he was holding in Iraq. Although CNN has tacitly affirmed Erickson’s expertise in selecting him as a political commentator, their other CNN political commentators have not hesitated to challenge Erickson’s false assertions.