Update: Coverage of second Republican debate on CNN.
Late on Friday, Erick Erickson, who is a Fox News contributor and editor of the conservative blog network RedState, announced that he was uninviting Donald Trump from RedState's annual conference of GOP leaders.
The reason, Erickson said, was Trump's overtly sexist comments to Fox News host Megyn Kelly, who had moderated the recent GOP primary debate. "As much as I do personally like Donald Trump, his comment about Megyn Kelly on CNN is a bridge too far for me," he wrote. "There are just real lines of decency a person running for President should not cross."
This would seem like a good sign: Finally, the Republican party is drawing some sort of line for acceptable discourse, past which misogyny is not permitted. Except that it's hard to believe that this is actually what's going on here, that this is really about sexism or "decency" at all, given that Erickson himself has a long history of overt sexism that is every bit as bad as Trump's, if not worse.
Here are a few tweets from Erickson, the conservative movement leader and Fox News contributor who wants us to believe he has rejected Trump's sexism:
I found those tweets searching through Erickson's Twitter feed, and took a screenshot in case he deletes them. But I missed a few, as flagged by the New Yorker's Ryan Lizza and ThinkProgress's Natasha Geiling:
Good thing I didn't suggest the feminists . . . you know . . . shave. They'd be at my house trying a post-birth abortion on me.— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) February 8, 2010
That Michelle Obama public service announcement on Haiti is not very flattering. Move the camera back please.— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) January 20, 2010
Typically, women are not as funny as men. Science explains why. http://t.co/ZIFHg1tKJG— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) May 24, 2013
How awesome is Fox for letting Trump come on and bash Rosie!! Awesome.— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) April 25, 2007
I am proud of myself for pointing out to the Women & Gender Studies students that their major has no real world value.— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) February 13, 2013
And that's just his Twitter feed; his web writing and TV punditry are, if anything, worse. Here are a few representative quotes, from a greatest-hits recently collected by Media Matters:
Hillary Clinton "Is Going To Be Old" In 2016, "I Don't Know How Far Back They Can Pull Her Face."
Erickson echoed Rush Limbaugh's smear of the National Association of Women, labelling the organization, "The NAG gang, as the godfather of radio Rush Limbaugh would call them, the National Association of Gals. They are the angry ones. Angry in their unibrows, I believe it was once said."
In response to controversy over the female CEO of IBM being denied admittance to the Augusta National Golf Club, Erickson said on an April 2012 edition of his radio program, "Who cares that she wasn't invited into the club? She's a woman. Women aren't allowed."
It's pretty clear that, when Erickson says he is uninviting Trump for sexism, this is a lie. It's obvious from Erickson's own statement that he himself loves sexism and thinks that hating and disparaging women is not only great fun, but that anyone who tells him not to hate and disparage women is a "feminazi" or, worse, a fun-hating "male feminist." (There's a whole subgenre of Erickson tweets disparaging men who advocate for gender equality; for him, hating women is not just defensible, but is in fact an essential component of masculinity.)
So what is Erickson's actual motivation here? Maybe he believes that Trump is politically toxic and will hurt the GOP's chances in the presidential election. Maybe it's that Erickson, a Fox News contributor, is concerned that Trump turning against the network is bad for its control over the party's agenda. Others who are more experienced at scrutinizing internal GOP politics are probably better suited to answering this than I am.
But the point is that we should not pretend, for even one second, that Erickson is any less of a misogynist than Donald Trump. We should not pretend that either Erickson or the slice of the conservative movement he represents has actually rejected Trump's sexism. They haven't. And that speaks to a certain irony here. Fox News has employed Erickson and given him a platform to espouse his hatred of women for years. That Fox News then tried to challenge Trump for advocating these same ideas shows the network's role in creating this problem and its hypocrisy in now pretending to oppose it.