Just hours after Erick Erickson likened the Democratic National Convention to a play named after female genitalia, an online petition urging CNN (NYSE:TWX) to fire the conservative contributor appeared online.
Posted on the activist website Change.org, the petition launched by user Mary Rickles of San Francisco said Erickson's continued presence on the network damages the value of the CNN brand. The petition is circulating under the name "CNN: Fire Erick Erickson."
Referring to the start of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday evening, Erickson tweeted, "First night of the Vagina Monologues in Charlotte going as expected."
Following an instant spate of angry replies from Twitter users, Erickson apologized for the comment less than an hour later. "My apologies to those offended by my tweet. Wasn't my intention," he wrote.
But not everyone was satisfied. Later in the evening, the Women's Media Center, an advocacy group that monitors sexism in the media, tweeted the Change.org petition to its more than 23,000 followers. The petition is seeking 500 signatures before it is sent to CNN. It has amassed 329 as of Wednesday morning.
"This sexist comment was disrespectful in light of the many distinguished speakers of the evening, including First Lady Michelle Obama, women's equality leader Lilly Ledbetter, war hero Tammy Duckworth and Leader Nancy Pelosi," the petition said. "If CNN values its brand as a trusted name in news, it should not tolerate its employees making inflammatory remarks such as this one."
CNN did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Erickson, the editor in chief of the conservative blog RedState, already had a long history of rabblerousing when he was hired by CNN in 2010. In a 2008 blog post, for instance, he sparked controversy after he referred to Michelle Obama as "Obama's marxist harpy wife." And he hasn't toned it down much since. Earlier this year he got downright giddy over footage of an Occupy DC protester getting tasered by police. "Watching a hippie protester get tased just makes my day."
For years, CNN has been battered in the ratings by the conservative Fox News. The network's decision to hire Erickson as a political contributor was largely seen as a thinly veiled effort to compete with its right-leaning rival. Nevertheless, CNN hit a 20-year ratings low this past May, and executives at the network are now looking into a massive programming overhaul.
Meanwhile, reactions to Erickson's vagina tweet continue to pour in via Twitter, with some users shrugging it off but many more describing it with such terms as "disgraceful," "sexist" and "disrespectful."
Others simply re-tweeted Rickles' petition, which, at its current rate, will likely reach its goal of 500 signatures sometime this afternoon.
Christopher Zara covers media, culture, entertainment and the arts. He joined IBTimes in June 2012. From 2005 to 2012, he served as managing editor of Show Business, a trade...