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EDITOR OF REDSTATE

I Think CNN.com Badly Mischaracterizes This Site

I tried to ignore this piece at CNN.com by Tom Cohen, but given how it continues to crop up in my inbox from people on both the left and right, I think it is worth responding to.I reached out to my friends and colleagues over at CNN.com to tell them I thought both I and RedState were being badly mischaracterized. While making an edit to the article to include “Erick Erickson, who rejected any talk of electoral fraud or an unfair Obama victory” prior to using my quotes, CNN.com’s staff tells me they stand by the article. They are entitled to, but I disagree and I think both my position and that of this site are badly mischaracterized.Let’s take the start of the article:

Step by step, die-hard conservatives are confronting their grief over President Barack Obama’s re-election.But judging from blog posts and other public pronouncements, many remain stuck somewhere between denial and anger, very far from acceptance.

Got that? The premise is that we are stuck somewhere between denial and anger and “very far from acceptance” over President Obama’s re-election.The first bit of evidence used was from Judson Phillips of the Tea Party Nation. It’s somewhat humorous that CNN.com would lump RedState in with the Tea Party Nation given our past writing about Tea Party Nation and its origins (see here, here, and here). Nonetheless,

prolific blogger Judson Phillips on Tea Party Nation has called for boycotting the Electoral College to prevent validating the election result and lamented the triumph of liberalism in destroying national unity and therefore America’s greatness.

Here at RedState and elsewhere, we’ve deriding this sort of nuttiness. No one on our front page has called for boycotting the Electoral College and, in fact, we’ve closed several accounts of people who’ve come to RedState to advocate doing this and also closed the accounts of the morons calling for secession.That is the first example of being “very far from acceptance” over President Obama’s victory. Next, we get to RedState and me.

Over at RedState.com, a more sophisticated political analysis echoes calls by Republican leaders to better communicate conservative principles instead of softening or dropping them.

Silly me, but I’m not sure how calling on “Republican leaders to better communicate conservative principles instead of softening or dropping them” has anything to do with being in denial or anger over President Obama being re-elected. But let’s get to the quotes.

Founder and CNN contributor Erick Erickson, who rejected any talk of electoral fraud or an unfair Obama victory, wrote Tuesday that “there’ll be no hand-wringing here and there sure as hell won’t be any apologies for fighting for what we believe in.”"Republicans are not successful when they run campaigns as the rich patrician out to make government more efficient so it can be more helpful,” said another Erickson post Tuesday. “Republicans win with conservative populists who run as men who pulled themselves up in life fighting big government and its cronies.”

Here is where the context is important and why I think CNN.com badly mischaracterizes this site.The first quote had absolutely nothing to do with the reelection of Barack Obama. It came from this post and a criticism of RedState from within the center-right coalition that RedState was complicit in the loss for being a conservative activist site instead of just championing Republicans. The quote was a defense of RedState’s core mission to help get conservatives elected.It had nothing to do with anger or denial about the President getting re-elected and everything to do with making no apologies for what we, as a site do, in our willingness to primary Republicans. Last I checked, Barack Obama did not run in a Republican Primary and could not in the context of that post even be in anyway implicated by that post.The second quote came from this post. It, again, has everything to do with an analysis internally of the Presidential election within the context of the Republican Party.More ironic, the CNN.com article is premised on the idea that we are “somewhere between anger and denial” about Barack Obama winning, but the full post at RedState quoted points out, again, that Mitt Romney was to blame for his loss, not people who voted for Barack Obama.How a journalist could take a ding at Mitt Romney and his campaign and turn it into a pronouncement that RedState or I (particularly as well given my statements on CNN’s domestic network) would be “somewhere between denial and anger, very far from acceptance” is anybody’s guess.But Tom Cohen felt the need, after those two quotes, to reinforce that neither RedState nor I were in acceptance mode, helpfully adding

Some acceptance has been necessary. On Tuesday, tea party favorite Rep. Allen West of Florida conceded in his race for re-election after initially alleging electoral fraud.

(Given my own public views of Allen West, it’s additionally ironic that Tom Cohen would follow quotes from me with a suggestion that Allen West’s loss would imply “some acceptance has been necessary.)What is most galling, frankly, about the article, is that it spends the entirety of its roughly 1,073 words focusing on serious nuttiness at the Tea Party Nation website that we here at RedState have put bright lines around as not acceptable and wrong. It has been striking to both me and to many of those who forwarded the link to me that the entirety of the article is spent on one website and a bunch of inane pronouncement we have flat out rejected at RedState, but then throws RedState in, somewhat gratuitously and completely out of context, to ensure the whole focus is not on one tea party website not even in accord with other tea party groups, let alone RedState.It would be hard to headline the article “Archconservatives: anger, denial but no acceptance of Obama’s victory” if it fixated on just one website. I also really have no idea what an “arch conservative” is, unless it’s something like an Arch-Duke and I’m suddenly royalty within the conservative movement or something.This is normally something I’d characterize as drive by journalism, seemingly coming to look for quotes to fill a premise without any real digging into my writing or the context here at RedState, and that of the other front page contributors. Any time spent paying attention to RedState’s front page would show we have clearly not been of anger, denial, or a refusal to accept the President’s re-election and, in fact, have attracted significant attacks on RedState from the right because of our refusal to buy into the very same nuttiness Tom Cohen is putting next to RedState in that article.Had Tom Cohen gone back through my writings since Election Day, he’d find, starting on election night

The Obama campaign ran a very good campaign. The Republicans did not. There was no fraud. There was no stealing the election. There was just a really good ground game from Barack Obama and a lot of smoke and mirrors from Team Romney and outside charlatans, many of whom will now go work for Republican Super PACs making six figure salaries, further draining the pockets of rich Republicans when not on television explaining how awesome and expert they are. Whether you can bring yourself to say it or not, like it or not, Barack Obama is, today, your President.

Moving beyond Election Day, NPR and others focused on this post wherein we flat out said, “Barack Obama won. He won by turning out the most people in a well run campaign. In other words, he won fair and square.”In that post, we further scorned those who

spent the past four years obsessed with birth certificates. Now they are obsessed with voter fraud conspiracies, talk of secession, and supposed election changing news stories if only we had known.So let’s add dabblers in this latest nuttiness to birthers as a category of people we do not welcome at RedState. Our aim is to beat the Democrats, not beat a retreat to a Confederacy that Generals Grant and Sherman rent asunder well over a hundred years ago.

Even the weekend before Election Day, I wrote in what is now one of the most widely read posts ever in the history of this website,

Too many of my friends have gotten so focused on the outcome and are so convinced the country as they know it is over if the other side wins that they are joyless to be around right now. They are full of dread and worry and fear. They’ve lost their sense of humor. They cannot laugh at themselves, their side, or much of anything. They are mad at others, myself included, for not being as worked up as they are. The frenzy has become a purity test, not the conviction.

I think it is hard to say that either I or the other front page contributors at RedState were angry, in denial, or refusing to accept the President’s victory when we are added our names to a post declaring he won fair and square and put on notice those peddling the conspiracies CNN highlights in that same article that those folks were not welcome at RedState.Even Rachel Maddow at MSNBC gave us the credit Tom Cohen doesn’t seem to suggest we deserve.I told CNN.com I thought Tom Cohen’s article badly mischaracterized RedState. CNN.com thinks otherwise. I can’t help that they are wrong, but they are wrong and the volume of my posts here, as well as my “other public pronouncements” in my post-election tweets on Twitter and my statements on CNN all back me up.It is what it is, but I think, given the volume of emails I’ve received related to the CNN.com piece, this needed to be addressed openly.

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