After three years, I have decided to leave CNN. It was not an easy decision. Contrary to a few media reports, I was not part of the house cleaning by the new CNN President. They asked me to stay. My wife and I thought it time to move on. This week I joined Fox News.
Me at CNN was not an easy fit. The first month was tumultuous with several tumultuous times throughout. I liked to think of myself as job security for the public relations department. About the only thing the far right and far left could agree on was that I did not belong at CNN.
In my time at CNN I have worked with some of the greatest people I have ever had the joy of meeting. It has been a privilege to sit in a green room and hear amazing people tell amazing stories about their days in the White House or on the campaign trail or covering the politicians who’ve governed the country these last few decades.
I’ve learned I can be on television for 26 straight hours and still make relative sense.
I’ve learned that some of the people I grew up thinking were in the enemy’s camp, so to speak, are spectacular people who share many of the same interests and opinions I do.
I’ve learned that family is more than just my wife and kids and our siblings and parents, but includes a host of people who, every time I’m in the room with them, we hug and eat and talk about stuff other than politics. And they always have a place at my kitchen table and a bed to sleep in if ever they are in Macon.
I learned that Roland Martin makes an excellent road trip companion through South Carolina. One of the most formative moments of my career at CNN was standing outside a hotel with Martin and tourists began handing him luggage and keys as if he worked at the hotel -- only because he was in a suit. His courteousness to the people when he did not have to be courteous, and the fact that in the 21st century that would happen at all really struck me profoundly.
Because of CNN I’m not just better at my job, but I’m a better person. For all the hate and angst from a lot of folks on the right over me going to CNN, I know many of the contributors I consider good friends were initially skeptical of my hiring. I had to learn an art form too often missing these days in partisan talk -- the art of conversation, particularly with those who might disagree with me. I had to learn to be friends with people with whom I disagreed. And I leave deeply caring for those people.
Frankly, before I went to CNN I was oblivious to the fact that there are ways to say things, without sacrificing or compromising my view or principle, that come off as more respectable and honest without invective than how I might have otherwise said them.
There are ways to say things that draw people to you and ways to say things that push people from you. There are also times that facts and “known facts” get bounced around by both sides of the political spectrum without them ever being actual facts. We should all be more mindful of that. CNN made me mindful of that.
I am forever grateful to them for giving me a chance and have many, many fond memories and friends.
Erick Erickson is a Fox News contributor and radio talk show host in Atlanta.