Huffpost Media
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Michael J.W. Stickings Headshot

CNN: It's Enough to Make You Throw Up

Posted: Updated:

So I was home all day yesterday feeling, well, unwell: upset stomach, nausea, headache, you know, stuff that makes you want to take a lot of the pink stuff.

Well, I was feeling a bit better in the afternoon, but, having worked up enough energy to make it over to the computer, and to turn it on, and to fire up the intertubes, and to surf over to my favorite sites, I made the horrible mistake of checking out what's been going on out in the world.

And what, almost immediately, did I learn?

That CNN, once a "respected name in news," and once a network worth paying attention to, and, of course, watching, has hired RedState blogger Erick Erickson as a so-called "political contributor," joining the likes of Bill Bennett and other extremist or otherwise intellectually incapacitated conservatives on what would seem to be an increasingly right-leaning network desperately trying to pull up its ratings by turning into Fox News Lite. Sorry, but having James Carville, Paul Begala, and Roland Martin on board does not constitute balance, or at least not the sort of balance of which CNN should be proud.

Now, I realize that having extremists and otherwise second-, third-, and fourth-rate, and worse, conservatives on your network can do a great deal to make conservatism look bad, which it does. But I don't think CNN is doing this to embarrass conservatives. After all, it enthusiastically calls its line-up of political contributors "The Best Political Team on Television." Intended irony that is not. CNN really does seem to think that it's home to analytical greatness.

"Erickson joins the Best Political Team," reads the announcement on CNN's Political Ticker. There you go. It would seem that CNN thinks that Erickson belongs among its heavyweights. Of course, the joke is on CNN. It's a pitiful line-up of contributors, on the whole, and so, in a way, Erickson will fit right in. Conservatives will applaud the move, but how many conservatives watch CNN? As for the rest of us, to the extent that we even watch CNN ourselves, we know that an already bad political team just got worse.

Yet I can't help but be annoyed that CNN insists on providing such a prominent media platform to the likes of Erickson. It's not that I care about CNN, or its ratings, it's that there's already enough pollution in the universe of 24/7 cable news and that, inevitably, all that pollution infests the body politic and makes it sick -- and it's all getting sicker, and there ain't enough pick stuff in the world to make it better.

But what's so wrong with Erickson, you ask? Look, it's not that I object to CNN hiring a conservatives -- yet another one, I might add -- however much I object to its rightward drift. As Steve Benen noted today, "there are thoughtful, intelligent conservative bloggers in the country, who occasionally have insightful things to say." I can't think of many of them, but there are a few, to be sure. "The problem here is that Erick Erickson isn't one of them."

Steve provides the necessary context and perspective:

The point here isn't that it's disappointing to see CNN hire yet another conservative voice, adding to its already-large stable of conservative voices. To be sure, it's frustrating, but it's nothing new.

The problem here is with Erickson himself.

For example, it wasn't long ago when Erickson explained his belief on why the left has a stronger online presence than the right. He attributed it to an asymmetry in free time, since conservatives "have families because we don't abort our kids, and we have jobs because we believe in capitalism."

This is the same Erickson who recently called retired Supreme Court Justice David Souter a "goat f--king child molester," referred to two sitting U.S. senators as "healthcare suicide bombers," praised protesters for "tell[ing] Nancy Pelosi and the Congress to send Obama to a death panel" (he later backpedaled on that one), and described President Obama's Nobel Prize as "an affirmative action quota."

And perhaps my personal favorite was the time, just last year, when Erickson was angry about new environmental regulations relating to dishwasher detergent. He told his readers, "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?"

There was a point when major professional outlets would look at a voice like this as an "extremist," to be shut out of the mainstream of America's civil discourse. CNN, however, considers this record of radical rhetoric, and concludes it should pay him to offer on-air political commentary.

So CNN really thinks Erickson belongs on the "Best Political Team"? Even if it isn't the best -- although, to be fair, the competition is hardly all that impressive -- are CNN's standards so low, to the extent that is actually has any, that it's happy to be providing a platform for this [insert whatever expletive you see fit]?

"This is a genuinely sad day for American journalism," Steve concludes. "CNN ought to be ashamed of itself." It ought to be, but it won't be. Its cluelessness, I fear, is rivalled only by its shamelessness.

But enough. I need to lie down again. It's a day later, but I'm feeling mighty queasy again.

(Cross-posted from The Reaction.)