One day after lauding the persistence of the "Occupy Wall Street" protests, CNN's American Morning pressured conservative contributor Erick Erickson to "admit" that the protests are indeed "resonating," and that his own counter-movement is much smaller.
"You've got to – you've got to admit it. The 'Occupy Wall Street' folks are resonating," Romans insisted to Erickson. "I mean, we just had an ORC poll this week that showed that majority of Americans have heard of the movement. The 'We Are the 53' is much smaller."
The same ORC poll also showed that just over a quarter of Americans (27 percent) actually agree with the protest, with a majority (54 percent) still holding no opinion. Romans didn't make mention of that.
Providing some more positive coverage of the protests, Romans further explained the frustrations of protesters to Erickson. "I mean this other thing, this outrage at banks, outrage at income equality, outrage at the system and what it's done for the haves, have more, and the have nots, have less and the people in the middle – the middle's getting smaller, it's really resonated, Erick."
The segment could be contrasted with an interview of a protester from the previous morning on CNN. American Morning co-host Ali Velshi gave a soft interview to one of the "occupiers," thus giving a platform for the protest to get more of its message out.
Romans referred back to that interview on Wednesday. "I want to ask you about Priscilla Grim," Romans asked Erickson about the interviewee. "She's become a co-editor of the '99 percent' blog, after she gave this posting. She said, 'Single mom, grad student, unemployed, and I paid more tax last year than G.E. I am the 99 percent.' You know, what's wrong with this position, I guess?"
Erickson is leading a counter-movement of sorts to the Wall Street protesters' "We Are the 99 Percent" theme, with a tumblr blog titled "We Are the 53%." The name represents the 53 percent of Americans who pay federal income taxes.
A transcript of the segment, which aired on October 12 at 6:41 a.m. EDT, is as follows:
CHRISTINE ROMANS: The "Occupy Wall Street" crowd really has latched on to the idea that its supporters are the 99 percent of Americans toughing it out, either unemployed or working paycheck to paycheck to paycheck. The 99 percent who aren't the top 1 percent of earners that Washington, D.C. caters to. We talked about the "We are 99 percent" campaign yesterday.
We wanted to bring you a smaller countermovement, a new movement. It's for the 53 percent of Americans who say they work, pay their taxes – but they're not complaining about it. CNN contributor Erick Erickson, the editor-in-chief of RedState.com is a brain child of the "We Are the 53 Percent" movement and he joins us now live this morning. Good morning.
ERICK ERICKSON, CNN contributor: Good morning. I wouldn't say I was the brain child. A friend of my came up with this on Twitter and I just put up a picture, and the next thing I knew, other people started putting up their pictures as well.
ROMANS: Well, let's show me one of those. I mean, you – and you clearly, you endorse it and this resonates with you, what this 53 percent is trying to do or what the whole thing stands for.
I want to give you a quick example. This is somebody who put up this picture on the blog, that says, "My first job was a janitor. I paid for my master's degree with loans. I live within my means, so I can pay my bills. I would love a Lexus, but I drive a Saturn. I am the 53 percent." What are these people saying about the "Occupy Wall Street" movement or what are they trying to say about the other side of that?
ERICKSON: Well, they're trying to say, ironically, what a lot of these 99 percenters are saying about this, that these people don't – they don't speak for me. I'm supposedly in this 99 percent movement but they don't speak for me.
You know, life isn't fair. And what I hear from these guys on the "Occupy Wall Street" movement and where they do agree, and they're very different on what they agree on, but where they do agree seems to be that greed is bad and somehow or other we should legislate fairness. Well, you can't legislate fairness. I pay my taxes. I don't like to pay my taxes but I do, but I'm not asking government to punish someone to help me out.
ROMANS: They're resonating. You've got to – you've got to admit it. The "Occupy Wall Street" folks are resonating. I mean, we just had an ORC poll this week that showed that majority of Americans have heard of the movement. The "We Are the 53" is much smaller.
I mean this other thing, this outrage at banks, outrage at income equality, outrage at the system and what it's done for the haves, have more, and the have nots, have less and the people in the middle – the middle's getting smaller, it's really resonated, Erick.
ERICKSON: Well, yeah, it's always going to resonate – the other guy has it better than you. I mean, that's part of human nature. We're all individuals who wish we had it like the other guy. And that's part of why the 99 percent movement has resonated. That doesn't make it right, though, to bash the other guy just because he has a better life than you.
ROMANS: I want to ask you about Priscilla Grim. She was on the program yesterday. She's become a co-editor of the "99 percent" blog, after she gave this posting. She said, "Single mom, grad student, unemployed, and I paid more tax last year than G.E. I am the 99 percent." You know, what's wrong with this position, I guess?
ERICKSON: Well, you know, it's that she doesn't speak for me. I mean, you know, I believe she's the lady that reached out to me on Twitter last night and said that I don't speak for her and threw in a few other choice words. And my response back was – you don't speak for me either.
You know, for the people saying, well, I'm part of the 53 percent and you don't speak for me. Good. Speak for yourself. I mean, this group that's in New York and complaining, so life isn't fair. I looked up "life is fair" in the Constitution. It's not there.
ROMANS: (Laughing) I've got to tell you, though, for 20 to 24-year-olds, the unemployment rate is 14.7 percent.
ERICKSON: Oh, yeah.
ROMANS: Do you think these kids just don't want to work and they should just get a job and stop complaining? Or are you agreeing there aren't opportunities for people right now? This economy is not providing enough opportunity.
ERICKSON: Yeah, there aren't a lot of opportunities out there right now, but it's not Wall Street that's denying them their job. It's not Bank of America that's denying them their job. It's not entrepreneurs who are denying them their job. It's largely government policies that have been put in place over time that have hurt job creation of the country. They should be protesting K Street and Congress, not Wall Street.
ROMANS: Some of them actually are protesting K Street and Congress, to be quite honest. They're worried about the revolving door with lobbyists, and the fact that Wall Street and Washington have been in bed with each other for so long.