The Hack-tacular Mr. Erickson
Well, evidently, something knocked Erick Erickson off his ass on the road to DC. As a result, the author of such journalistic low-points as:
- comparing an Obama Administration official to a Nazi
- asking if President Obama was shagging hookers behind the media’s back (guess he didn’t get the memo about Obama being gay)
- referring to Michelle Obama as a “Marxist Harpy”
- calling former Supreme Court Justice David Souter a “goat-fucking child molester”
- and oh, so much more . . .
has now become an advocate for journalistic integrity, forcing the rest of us to set aside our regular business and ponder that age-old question of whether or not a mean-spirited, conservative hack can grow up to become a contributing member of society.
When Erick Erickson nailed down the Number Six spot on The Salon Hack List for 2011, Alex Pareene profiled him thus:
Erick Erickson is a generic right-wing blogger whose only notable quality as a commentator is his cowardly unwillingness to stand behind the various vitriolic things he says and writes. He’s not a good writer or interesting thinker or particularly funny or savvy. His idea of a good gag is calling David Souter a “goat-fucking child molester” and then deleting that tweet and then hastily rewriting it when he got called on it and then crying to Howard Kurtz that he regretted ever writing it.
Even the many vile and stupid things he says are repetitive and predictable. He’s called Barack Obama a Nazi on multiple occasions, for crimes like “criticizing the insurance industry” and “wanting to host the Olympics.” Who can forget the time he idly wondered when citizens would “march down to their state legislator’s house, pull him outside, and beat him to a bloody pulp” over a Washington state proposal to regulate phosphates in dishwasher detergent? That’s quality political analysis right there! No wonder CNN hired him!
When he’s not hyperbolic and violent, he’s just wrong and lame.
That was awfully close to my own evaluation of Erick Erickson. But now, Erickson is promising to be better and he can’t wait for the rest of us to savor that news:
The “news” Erickson promised to make took the form of a longish, rambling screed about a) the deplorable state of conservative reportage b) what he plans to do about that and, just for good measure, c) a reminder of the crippling effects of MSM bias against the Right.
According to Erickson the problem is:
I think conservative media is failing to advance ideas and stories . . . The echo in the chamber has gotten so loud it is not well understood outside the echo chamber in the mainstream press and in the public. It translates only as anger and noise, neither of which are conducive to the art of persuasion.
Conservatives are trying so hard to highlight controversies, no matter how trivial, we have forgotten the basics of reporting: W5 + H as I learned in grade school, also known as who, what, where, when, why, and how. I think conservatives need to reset some of their reportorial resources to tell the stories that need to be told by focusing on the facts at hand in a world view of the right.
The part about “conservative media failing to advance ideas and stories” is by now pretty entrenched conventional thinking on the Right among those who admit that the Right has a problem. So Erickson doesn’t deserve a whole lot of credit for arriving at that realization. What remains to be seen is whether or not the Right actually has any politically sustainable ideas to tell stories about.
And, perhaps, if Erickson hadn’t been so busy shouting into the echo chamber, himself, he would have arrived at this laudable insight a little earlier. Far be it from me, though, to deny that it’s possible for people to grow up, evolve, change . . . undeniably Erickson modified his act, somewhat, to fit in at CNN, probably out of necessity.
Now that he has moved to Fox News, well, we’ll see.
Meanwhile, in re point “b) what he plans to do about it” appears to be hiring up to two “real journalists” to do real reporting for his blog, RedState.com.
Erickson’s sudden conversion to reality, facts and reporting integrity doesn’t seem to have tempered his persecution complex about how biased mainstream media is against conservatives. In an article that ran to 15 short paragraphs, Erickson ground that MSM axe five different times:
Now is the time to stop lamenting conservative reporters not having access to the media . . .
Many on the right do hard work and great work uncovering stories the mainstream media ignores or fails to follow up on.
. . . because the general media has an ideological bias against conservatives, which makes it harder for the media to take our views seriously.
. . . conservatives have to be better informed and more versed in the facts because the media already leans left and gives more latitude to the left.
Finally, the last time (I promise) that Erickson mentions “media bias” he gets a little closer to the truth of what that bias truly is:
Yes there is an institutional media bias against the right, but we must also honestly acknowledge that conservatives have also screamed “Wolf” a [sic] these past few years more often than there was one.
Well damn! Erick, now you might really be on to something. Perhaps the media’s actual bias is against half-truths, untruths, lack of substantiation, sensationalism and conspiracy theories. Maybe it has nothing to do with the basic tenets of conservatism, at all, but rather the unprofessional habits that conservative reporters have fallen into.
Something tells me that rather than a true change of heart, though, this new Erickson, represents a mere change of strategy as evidenced by his statement that:
We need to establish a baseline for integrity in reporting that then allows us to highlight the truly outrageous.
So, evidently, “integrity in reporting” is the means, not the end? And, although, Erickson ended his post with this promise:
We’re going to start doing things right — here, and now.
I have to wonder when the “baseline of integrity” starts to kick in because, the previous day, Erickson directed a tirade at Virginia’s Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, calling him “pathetic” and “a liar” for the unforgivable sin of raising taxes in his state to patch up infrastructure for the good of the people and businesses of Virginia.
Proof that McDonnell is a no-good, low-life RINO?
Bob McDonnell was getting all kinds of praise on the Sunday shows for his big transportation tax hike, which passed the Virginia legislature this week. He was getting praise from big government liberals like Tim Kaine and Terry McAuliffe and Martin O’Malley for his evenhandedness, his leadership, not like those troublesome conservatives in Washington who refuse to wheel and deal.
Of course, Erickson would have liked to see McDonnell privatize state services rather than raise taxes, because privatization has been working so well for conservative run states (see schools, prisons, etc.).
And, evidently, none of this reformation to “serious journalism” had occurred to Erickson yet, on February 4, 2013 when he let fly with this tweet:
The link in Erickson’s tweet goes to an article on the website of Atlanta, GA’s NBC affiliate, which states that the employee Erickson believes deserves a medal is being charged with aggravated assault after hitting a shopper’s child with a belt “at least 25 times” after the child threw a cookie at her.
That kind of sentiment is bound to attract all sorts of newcomers to the Conservative Bigtop . . .