Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 2, 2010

CNN SURE KNOWS HOW TO PICK 'EM.... When it comes to the constitutionally-mandated national census, all Americans will receive a pretty basic form to fill out, and it's important that they do. But there's also something called the American Community Survey (ACS), which supplements the census with more detailed information on demographic, social, economic, and housing trends.

Yesterday, right-wing blogger and CNN contributor Erick Erickson announced he would refuse to answer ACS questions if asked, regardless of legal obligations to cooperate with the Census Bureau. "I dare them to try and come throw me in jail," Erickson declared on a radio show. "I dare them to. Pull out my wife's shotgun and see how that little ACS twerp likes being scared at the door. They're not going on my property."

Remember, CNN pays this man to offer on-air political analysis. Indeed, the network has boasted of Erickson's "exceptional knowledge" and his "important voice."

Jon Stewart reflected on CNN's bizarre decision with a great segment last night.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
CNN Hires Erick Erickson
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorHealth Care Reform

Be sure to watch to the end, when Stewart suggests the Erickson hire explains CNN's new slogan: "CNN: We Have No Idea What The F@#k We Are Doing."

Steve Benen 10:45 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (29)

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Maybe the git can bring his wife's shotgun to CNN studios for one of Wolf Blitzer's "show and tell" episodes...

Posted by: neill on April 2, 2010 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

Every American citizen who had doubts about Barak Hussein Obama's place of birth should refuse to fill out the censIs! If enough real Americans boycot this process, the government will have no choice but to release Obama's REAL birth certificate.


Posted by: AfterBirther on April 2, 2010 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

CNN knows exactly what they're doing: Trying to cut into FoxNews' share of the batshit-crazy wingnut knuckle-dragger demographic. Try to tell me that some suit at CNN doesn't envision Erickson as their answer to Beck?

Posted by: bikelib on April 2, 2010 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

Lou who?

Posted by: Winkandanod on April 2, 2010 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

That was a great segment.

What I want to know is how in the holy heck they hire that clown, yet here is Steve Benen, King of Reason and Never Shrill. If they really wanted a reasonable blogger, can't think of many who would be better suited.

CNN really is going to regret hiring Eric Sonoferic.

Posted by: Mark D on April 2, 2010 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

So, is the Macon City P.D. setting up road blocks in front of Erikson's home?

Or are they helping him dig fox holes for his M-60 emplacement?

"Geez, Mr Councilman, might be better for a field of fire, if we chop down a couple of those peach trees, eh?"

Posted by: berttheclock on April 2, 2010 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

Isn't the threat to use violence against a gov't employee a felony? If so, convict him and take away his guns (felons aren't allowed to own guns) and then see how tough he is.

I do note that he says it is his wife's gun. So either a) he's not man enough to own a gun or b) he's already a felon or certified mentally incompetent and isn't allowed to own one. I think CNN needs to look into this.

Posted by: martin on April 2, 2010 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

Without editorializing on CNN'S editorializing, here's why this move is incredibly f*cking dumb. CNN's slide in the ratings has been gradual, but they want to stop the slide immediately. They're looking for a personality that'll "put them back on the map," be controversial and loud, get headlines (in places other than their own network), in the hopes that with notoriety will come instant ratings. And it's a ridiculous proposition, because even if it had momentary success, they're relying on broadcasting novices and idiotic stunts to bolster the sagging ratings of a NEWS network, in the face of a supposed "news network" that has not only mastered this pseudo-art, but has an incredibly loyal audience. Granted its audience is old, but they're at Fox for the long haul unless they die or have a Dickensian change of heart. Younger viewers, who skew left, won't find Erickson or a Fox-Lite approach endearing, either. So who, exactly are they trying to reach? The viewers on the right who turned their remotes to Fox News and threw out the batteries? The viewers on the left because, you know, they'd rather watch this blather live rather than have in encapsulated and mocked online within minutes? People in the center craving for information and who've made it clear they're turned off by this style of infotainment? WHO?

I disagree with John Stewart about MSNBC's reporting skewing left - as far as I'm concerned, Olbermann and Maddow might have liberal hearts but they're genuinely searching for truth, not for brownie points with like minded lefties. They skewer Obama and the Administration, often, when they disagree with parts of their agenda or their methods. They slam Dems who are or appear to be guilty of transgressions if not flat-out crimes. They're searching for the political system to be better, not just one party. And then you've got Scarborough in the morning, usually being just as asinine as anyone on Fox. You've got Buchanan doing his best to keep the Archie Bunker is my hero demo satisfied. And the rest of the network is filled "who?" and li'l Dylan Ratigan, trying his hardest to be noticed, bless his heart.

Nonetheless, Stewart's point about many Americans looking for a place where news is news, and facts trump politics, I think, is true. But those Americans just don't think that exists anywhere anymore. For CNN to become that network, it won't result in a ratings bonanza overnight; they'll have a lot of preconceived notions to overcome, not to mention having to wait until Fox news viewers die off. But it stands the best chance of reapig them dividends down the road. But they have to invest in that sort of structure now and be patient. They're going to have to find young dogged investigators and nurture them into bona fide reporters and cable news "stars," rather than find bloggers with a supposed built-in audience and give them air time hoping that translates into carryover. They have to be willing to put news back before ratings, and then, if they're good enough, the ratings will come...

eh, who am I kidding? When's Ann "Dice" Coulter coming back on to tell me I'm worse than Hitler? She is just DARLING! She must be! The news network keep putting her on, so I MUST love her, right?

Posted by: slappy magoo on April 2, 2010 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

It would seem despite his many recants (see Stewart) he still cannot keep his mouth shut. I suspect CNN views him as a possible competitor to Beck. Nice choice.

Posted by: Mudge on April 2, 2010 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

MAD AS HELL etc etc etc ad nausium

Okay, we're entering "Network" territory here. Next, CNN starts a "reality" segment which follows about a group of Tea Bag activists who demonstrate, fire guns, and rail against the government while receiving retirement, disability, and other checks.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on April 2, 2010 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

His wife's shotgun? Pussy.

Posted by: Hoyt Pollard on April 2, 2010 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

This network gave Glenn Beck his toehold on television. I can see being mad they hired Son of Eric, but how the hell can you be surprised?

His wife's shotgun? Pussy. (Everyone should sign off this way.)

Posted by: KC45s on April 2, 2010 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

March 29, 2010
CNN Fails to Stop Fall in Ratings
CNN continued what has become a precipitous decline in ratings for its prime-time programs in the first quarter of 2010, with its main hosts losing almost half their viewers in a year.


cnn used to be on channel 10 on the timewarner lineup in nyc; it's now on channel 78. it's been impossible to watch cnn these past several years; the stupidity of the chatterbunnies and the degraded shit that passes for commentary/analysis rots your brain.

Posted by: bkny on April 2, 2010 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

Good segment, save for one thing: why does Jon buy into the right wing framing that MSNBC and Fox News are counterpoints?

Maddow may have a ideology, but she doesn't lie to promote it. Jon's suggesting there is a mushy middle between fact and fantasy.

Posted by: doubtful on April 2, 2010 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

My lord, sounds like Ewick is trying to compensate for some inadequacies. With his *wife's* gun no less?

Hey Ewick-- I'll bet your godhead Rush could loan you some of his blue pills to help you out, no need to play with your wife's guns.

Posted by: JCT on April 2, 2010 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

In an effort to boost our ratings we will be requiring Wolf "I am not a Corporate cumslut" Blizter to wear his 'blue stained dress' during each and every broadcast. Yes, we intend to be honest about what we are doing with this by putting Blizter in drag. It's the most honest thing we could do and hopefully our honesty will be acknowledged by increased ratings.

Posted by: CNN PR DEPARTMENT on April 2, 2010 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

This Erickson rogue-state creep is getting inspiration from these freaks:


Note again, the hypocrisy of their new-found hatred of the government, only a few years after calling anyone who criticized questionable and costly war policies etc. a "traitor", and how we don't criticize CIC in time of war (and the WOT is never-ending), etc. What trash. CNN is becoming a garbage Faux Lite - I wish (and so does he) that Ted Turner had never let it go.

Posted by: Neil B ♫ on April 2, 2010 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

It's sad watching the decline of both CNN and the WaPo. CNN's decline began the minute they decided to give a prime-time hour to Nancy Grace. The WaPo's delcine began the minute Katherine Graham died. Neither can be taken seriously anymore....

Posted by: mfw13 on April 2, 2010 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Erickson's threatened action would violate several laws. In Georgia (where he lives), it's a misdemeanor to point a gun -- loaded or unloaded -- at a person. In Georgia, aggravated assault (a felon, I think) includes "Causing fear in others by threats or endangerment"). He's following up his comments with the complaint that the Left is accusing him of advocating the shooting of Census workers with the excuse: “i’m only advocating threatening them with a weapon… you know, totally different." Can't say what others are saying, but no, I'm saying that the actions he's advocating -- brandishing a shotgun at the door to frighten a Census worker -- violates at least two laws in Georgia and a bunch of Federal laws. As I understand it, the Census worker is authorized by law to be on Erickson's property, even authorized to bypass “no trespassing” signs as many times as necessary. It's against federal law to threaten the Census worker -- you're not even allowed to imply possible harm to the employee. You are NOT allowed to point a gun at the Census worker. And he's on CNN?

Posted by: Russell on April 2, 2010 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

The internet had made cable "news" largely irrelevant.

For sports we so many choices, it's hard to choose. I've bookmarked philly.com/sports for local info, and ESPN for the big stuff.

Weather we can get live radar of Our Town. Traffic ditto.

For politics I like Keith and Rachel, but for my daily fixes, I come here.

For unintended humor I still watch the TeeVee. . .

Posted by: DAY on April 2, 2010 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

This is obviously a liberal CNN plot to get conservatives to ignore the census to their peril. Or something.

Posted by: cicero on April 2, 2010 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

This is a guy who threatens deadly force if a census taker comes to his door, and advises that legislators should be beaten up for a law about detergents. This is a violence-obsessed wacko. And CNN has given him a new megaphone? CNN's brand name is ruined.

Posted by: putnam on April 2, 2010 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

So, is the Macon City P.D. setting up road blocks in front of Erikson's home?

I doubt they'd be sympathetic to him, since he has said he opposes unionization of the police force so fiercely he'd fire them all and hire contractors.

But I say if conservatives refuse to send in the census, that's fine with me. Good luck with that redistricting! More - I mean LESS - power to them!

Posted by: g on April 2, 2010 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

They all keep going to that same old well, keep fighting for those same old ultra rightwing eyeballs. Joe Teabag and his latest squeeze.

Not only is it the same audience that the whole MSM panders to, it's a shrinking demographic.

Watching the corporate media chase their tails, ganging up to pursue the last few remaining scrawny rodents while big fat lefty-to-moderate pigeons strut around untasted is a bizarre thing. The media starved itself in the midst of plenty because they wouldn't change their audience. So much for "market forces". If the market worked, over half the shows would be liberal.

For example, I hear MSNBC's night (lefty) shows are raking in...

By the way, a left wing media would not necessarily "pander" to left wing prejudices, nor would they make up and promote left wing lies. That's not how it works. A "liberal" media goes after truth, afflicting the powerful, defending the powerless.

That's why everyone says that "reality has a liberal bias."

Posted by: Zandru on April 2, 2010 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

One day we'll look back on all this as America's Dark Ages.

Posted by: chrenson on April 2, 2010 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Erickson is a fool, to be sure, but he is not completely off the plantation on defying the ACS version of the census. His faux manliness and threats of violence are pure conservative RW crap, and I love that he threatens using "his wife's shotgun"...meaning people are supposed to think what, that he either doesn't need a gun, or that he has his own Uzi or AK-47?!?!

Here is something on ACS I picked up back when I was being hassled by these twerps (twice visiting my doorstep), and once I told the survey-taker what I had learned and that I would be glad to film any future visits, I never heard from them again. ACS is not the decennial census mentioned in the US Constitution, fyi...

What is the ACS (American Community Survey)?

The American Community Survey (ACS) is a 21-page questionnaire generated by the US Department of Commerce under the auspices of the US Census Bureau. Funded by tax dollars, the lengthy questionnaire is mailed to 2% of the US population annually. The ACS has been criticized by many recipients due to its highly invasive questions, mandatory language regarding compliance threatening steep fines, and the dogged follow-up tactics often used by Census Bureau representatives to obtain completed forms.

The Census Bureau intends the ACS to replace the “long form” questionnaire of the 10-year Census. Information provided is entered into a central data base. This data bank holds extremely sensitive details about countless residents in every area of the United States.

ACS forms are addressed to the “resident” of specific addresses randomly chosen. It is up to the primary resident to fill out the form, supply his or her full name, and the full names of each household member. Other information that must be supplied for each person includes gender, marital status, age, birthdate, and the relationship of one resident to another. Questions also delve into the specific race of each individual, language spoken, education level, citizenship and ancestry. The physical, emotional and mental state of each resident is also to be supplied, including certain medical conditions.

The ACS also requires employment addresses, the time each resident leaves for work, and when he or she arrives home. If the resident doesn’t work, the ACS asks if the person could have worked if offered a job, and other related questions. Self-employment, all income sources, and the total income earned over the previous year for each resident is also required.

The ACS also asks how many children each resident has given birth to, if any, or if any residents are currently pregnant. Military service and retirement questions are also covered in the ACS.

A series of inquiries are dedicated to the residence itself, including when it was built, how much land it occupies, how many rooms it has, number of bathrooms, type of plumbing, and market worth. The ACS also wants to know the cost of monthly utility bills, mortgage or rent, and the dates each resident moved in.

The Census Bureau maintains answers to all ACS questions are held in the strictest confidence, and that the information will help city planning efforts. In terms of commerce, business owners can use the ACS data base to see whether their services or products would benefit a particular geographic area. For example, Wal-Mart might decide to put an outlet in your neighborhood based on information provided by the ACS data base.

The Census Bureau emphasizes that all questions must be answered. The ACS envelope arrives with a warning that a response is required by law. The form threatens a $100 fine for every question that goes unanswered, and a $500 fine for every question answered untruthfully.

While big business no doubt benefits from having as much information about citizens as possible, many citizens are unwilling to give away their right to privacy. Hence, many are refusing to return the ACS. This automatically results in an additional ACS form being sent, followed by a series of phone calls. In 21% of the cases, an unannounced, personal visit from a Census Bureau representative follows in a final attempt to get the ACS completed. Often more than one visit takes place.

In the end, however, the Census Bureau has no authority to enforce the laws that require the ACS be answered. The Census Bureau can press formal charges for non-compliance, but this is somewhat impractical given the number of ACS forms that are not returned, or returned incomplete. A lawsuit would likely draw media attention and a public outcry that would very probably bring an end to the ACS, or end mandatory compliance. As of early 2007, no legal action has been taken against anyone for refusing to answer the ACS.

Posted by: Styve on April 2, 2010 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

I hate to burst Ewick's bubble but if his household had been picked to receive the ACS, he would have gotten it by now. We received ours almost two months ago.

Cue Ewick's whining about not being picked and how it's unAmerican for him to be left out! ...

Posted by: Mnemosyne on April 2, 2010 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

One of Erickson's credentials is apparently that he's a "church deacon." What is it, the Church of Using Shotguns to Scare Twerps?

This violence-obsessed, nasty, trash-talking person is one strange exemplar of deeply felt religious faith.

Posted by: putnam on April 2, 2010 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

Ok, everybody, CNN is putting this jerk in direct contact with the public, crazy or otherwise, and the poor census taker, who most likely is just doing it to get some money coming in to pay their bills without any personal political nuance, is coming to somebody's door is taking the chance that once they identify themselves as working for the census, gets the crap scared out of them, assaulted, intimidated/berated, or blown away? Come on, people, it's just a stinking survey, if you don't want to do it, tell the census person you'd rather not, and let them go back home to their kids, or the lonely tv dinner. What so hard about that????

Posted by: catpi on April 29, 2010 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK
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