Pummeling Perry: The Media’s Worst Attacks on the Former Texas Governor

If his 2012 presidential run is any indicator, Rick Perry’s jump into the 2016 presidential race will bring a flurry of the liberal media’s favorite pejoratives for Republicans. Racist? Anti-science? Religious bigot? Gun nut? Heartless cutter of programs for the poor? You name it, the former Texas governor was called it by his haters in the leftist press.

The Washington Post was the first to imply Perry was a racist when it ran a front-page hit piece that hyped the fact that the Perry family spent time at a camp that had a rock with a racial slur on it, never mind the fact that the Perry family painted it over multiple times and eventually turned it over. Chris Matthews took Perry’s take on 10th Amendment conservatism to be a cause for concern as he asked if Perry was “Bull Connor with a smile?”

ABC’s Jim Avila warned his viewers that Perry “does not care about” science when it came to global warming. MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt flat out asked Perry if he was “smart enough” to be President. CBS’s Early Show packed in multiple slights against Perry in a cartoon that sneered that the “religious...socially conservative” governor wanted to “turn back the clock” on the “safety net.”

HBO’s Bill Maher took exception to the gun-rights advocate when he declared: “I would pay to watch Rick Perry defend himself against a school shooter with prayer.” And of course Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart reveled in Perry’s memory lapse during a debate as he cheered Perry’s “dope diamond” moment.

The following are the media’s worst attacks (so far) on Perry from the MRC’s archives:
 

Is Rick Perry Just “Bull Connor With a Smile?”

 

 

“I know you’re an objective reporter, but I smell birtherism about this guy. His attack on Obama isn’t just policy. It’s about the nature of the person who’s President....This could be Bull Connor with a smile.”
— Host Chris Matthews to Dallas Morning News senior political writer Wayne Slater, MSNBC’s Hardball, August 16, 2011.

 

Matthews: Would Perry Have Cheered School Desegration? “I Don't Think So!”

 


“Do you think Rick Perry would be for that? Do you think he’d be cheering for Ike today if he brought the troops in to desegregate the schools in Little Rock? I don’t think so!...He talks about secession. He talks about states’ rights. He’s got all the idiom of the guys who hate civil rights....I compared him to Bull Connor with a smile yesterday. Maybe that was too far, but I’m still learning about this guy.”
— Matthews on the August 17, 2011 Hardball.

 

CBS Mocks Perry As Extremist, Texas = “Worst Off” State

 



Cartoonist Mitch Butler (narrating): “Perry is one of the country’s most religious and socially conservative governors. He has launched lawsuits against Washington, he calls most scientists who study climate change liars, and he challenges federal authority on issues from taxes to civil rights.”
Cartoonist Josh Landis (narrating): “Texas journalist Paul] Burka says a President Perry would probably set his sights on entitlements. Governor Perry has called Social Security a failure and a Ponzi scheme for starters.”
Texas Monthly editor Paul Burka: “He would turn back the clock. He would take America back to where there was basically no safety net. I don’t think he believes in the safety net.”...
Landis: “Texas is also one of the worst-off states when it comes to poverty, health insurance, and education.”
— From a September 13, 2011 CBS Early Show animated piece, “America’s Next Top Republican.”   

 

Your Conservative Ways Have Ruined Texans!

 


“You have touted your state’s low taxes, the lack of regulation, tough tort reform, as the recipe for job growth in the Lone Star state, but Texas ranks last among those who have completed high school, there are only eight other states with more living in poverty, no other state has more working at or below the minimum wage, so is that the kind of answer all Americans are looking for?”

“Governor Perry, you can’t have much of a workforce without a basis of education. As you know, your state ranks among the worst in the country in high school graduation rates, as we established. Yet, you recently signed a budget cut for billions in education funding, you pushed for greater cuts than were in the budget that the legislature passed. You’ve said that education is a top priority, but explain cutting it the way you did, please?”

“Question about Texas. Your state has executed 234 death row inmates, more than any other governor in modern times — [ audience cheers and applause ] — have you struggled to sleep at night with the idea that any one of those might have been innocent?”

“What do you make of that dynamic that just happened here, the mention of the execution of 234 people drew applause?”
— Some of moderator Brian Williams’ questions to Texas Governor Rick Perry during MSNBC’s Republican presidential candidates debate, September 7, 2011.

“Governor Perry, you clearly don’t like the Massachusetts plan as an example for other states, but Massachusetts has nearly universal health insurance — it’s first in the country. In Texas, about a quarter of the people don’t have health insurance. That’s 50 out of 50, dead last. Sir, it’s pretty hard to defend dead last.”
Politico editor John Harris to Perry at the same debate.

 

“Unabashedly Conservative” Perry Does Not Care About Science

 


“Unmistakably Texan, unabashedly conservative, Governor Rick Perry does not care about the overwhelming scientific evidence that global warming is largely produced by humans burning fossil fuels.”
— ABC’s Jim Avila on Good Morning America, August 18, 2011.

 

Maher: “I Would Pay to Watch Rick Perry Defend Himself Against a School Shooter with Prayer”

 


“This stuff makes them so crazy. I could give you a hundred examples. But my favorite this week, Rick Perry - remember Rick Perry down in Texas? - he said Obama’s suggestions for gun control disgust him. And he said the real answer to this problem isn’t laws, it’s prayer. You know what, I know you’re not supposed to say this about elected officials, but I would pay to watch Rick Perry defend himself against a school shooter with prayer. Although I guess that’s just a crazy fantasy, Rick Perry in a school.”
— HBO’s Bill Maher on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, January 18, 2013.

 

MSNBC’s Harris-Perry Compares Perry to Segregationists

 


“Rick Perry was preceded in his call to send armed troops to confront children by Arkansas Governor Orval Faubas. And he, of course, called the National Guard to stop the Little Rock Nine from their first day of school at Central High. The presence of children on buses integrating Boston schools in 1974 didn’t stop white crowds from confronting them with slurs and threats of violence....Nor did it give pause to the adults who hurled objects and insults at 6-year-old Ruby Bridges on the day she became the first African-American child to desegregate an elementary school. And so when we look to children seeking safety at our borders and see instead an invasion to be defended against, a contagion to be contained. Or a drain on resources that we just don’t want to share, that is a side of history on which we are choosing to stand.”
— MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry, on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry show, July 26, 2014. 

MSNBC Reporter to Rick Perry: “Are You Smart Enough” to Be President?

 

 

Kasie Hunt: “And are you smart enough to be President of the United States?”
Rick Perry: “I think the standpoint of life’s experiences. Running for the presidency is not an IQ test. It is a test of an individual’s resolve. It’s a test of an individual’s philosophy. It’s a test of an individual’s life’s experiences. And I think Americans are really ready for a leader that will give them a great hope about the future.”
— MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt question to Rick Perry on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, December 11, 2014.

 

Terry Moran to Rick Perry: Is Your “Controversial” Campaign “Denigrating” Non-Christians?

 


“Now, his back against the wall, Perry is promising to fight the battles many evangelicals want politicians to fight: For prayers in schools. Against gays in the military and gay marriage. You’re running for President of the United States, to be president of all the people. Are you concerned that you’re running a campaign that denigrates or excludes non-Christians? Gay veterans? People who won’t be included?”
— ABC’s Terry Moran on Nightline, December 20, 2011.

 

Ed Schultz Edits Rick Perry to Falsely Accuse Him of Making Racist Remark About Obama

 


Ed Schultz: “Perry just inferred President Obama is not in love with the United States of America?....You know, folks, this is the same garbage with heard from Sarah Palin and all these Tea Party attack artists in this country. I think there’s an element of racism every time people claim the first black president doesn’t love this country. Perry comes from the radical country club that loves to remind white America President Obama is other, not like you.
Perry also wants you to know that he’s pro-business.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Rick Perry: “I’m a pro-business governor. I don`t make any apologies about it, and I will be a pro-business president. Getting America back to work is the most important issue that faces this country, being able to pay off $14.5 trillion or $16 trillion worth of debt. That big black cloud that hangs over America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Schultz: “That black cloud Perry is talking about is President Barack Obama.”
— MSNBC’s Ed Schultz intentionally edited quote. Full sentence from Perry: “That big black cloud that hangs over America, that debt that is so monstrous.” MSNBC’s The Ed Show, August 15, 2011.

 

Jon Stewart Revels in Rick Perry’s “Dope Diamond” Debate Moment

 


Jon Stewart: “And now ladies and gentlemen, we have reached our destination. James Richard Perry, Rick. The tough-talking, God-fearing, boot-wearing, prisoner-killing, Pez dispenser-collecting - that last one is probably not right - Texan. Many Republican faithful thought Perry would be the answer to their prayers. But it turns out he was the answer to ours. You know, a comedian can spend his whole life digging through the comedy minds for sound bites that he can use to sustain his family. Sometimes a fellow can lose hope. And then Rick Perry gives you 53 seconds that can change a man’s life. Oh lordy, I give you this thing I found, the dope diamond.”
[Rick Perry clip]
Stewart: “Are you not entertained?! Are you not entertained?! Are you not entertained?! There is so much meat on that bone and it is all breast meat. It is all white. I don’t even know which part to pick...My favorite moment occurred just towards the very end, just towards the very end. Let me just, let me just replay it for you very quickly, just at the very end in the quiet moment of desperation, at the end. Just-
Rick Perry: “Now let’s see. I can’t, the third one I can’t, sorry. Oops.”
Stewart: “Oops! Oops! Oops! O-O-P-S! Oops! Thank you, Jesus. Oops! That is not the four letter word I would have gone with. Oops! Like it’s a juice box. ‘Oops! Oh, oh my God! Oh my chance to be President of the United States! Oops!’ Does anyone have a towel? Oops!”
— Jon Stewart on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, November 10, 2011.

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.