Media Mess with Texas Gov. Rick Perry
When Sarah Palin ran for vice president, journalists provided some Alaska-sized examples of character assassination, attacking her by a factor of 18-to-1, calling her McCain's "problem" and her views "incendiary." So far this election, the media are aiming for Texas-sized attacks on that state's Gov. Rick Perry.
With Perry currently in the lead for the Republican nomination, lefty media types are hoping that Texas-sized is big enough to stop any viable conservative challenge to their man Obama. They bash Perry on the economy, on his straight-talking personality and throw in little digs against Texas, too.
One of the funniest things is the assault on Perry's economic record as governor. This isn't Gardisil where even Perry has admitted he didn't handle it well. This is economic success the likes of which we haven't seen since the last governor of Texas was president.
That doesn't stop major outlets like The Washington Post and The New York Times. The Post tried lamely to claim Perry's job growth was all government, but they cherry-picked the stats and ignored that ratio of government workers to citizens had declined.
The Times led off with the good: "Texas is home to at least one-third of the jobs created nationwide since the recession ended." It also included a state economy growing twice the national rate and stable housing prices.
Somehow the Times saw that as a bad thing, stating "some economists as well as Perry skeptics suggest that Mr. Perry stumbled into the Texas miracle." Perry could have cured cancer and some (read liberal) critics would complain he had hurt the healthcare industry.
With 9.1 percent unemployment, maybe America could use a repeat of such stumbling.
But that's not as bad as the attack Perry received for saying if Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke were "printing more money to play politics" it would be "almost treasonous." The media "almost" exploded right on the screen over that one, showing how little they understand the English language they use every day. Treason has direct and clear-cut consequences. "Almost" treasonous is like "almost" pregnant - a big deal but not something you need to take action about.
Perry's comment spawned numerous media and pundit attacks, in no small part because many journalists used deceptive editing to make his comment look far worse than it was. Nearly two-thirds of all major media stories about the Bernanke comment got it wrong at least in part.
Here's how they played in. In 63 percent of those stories, so-called journalists cut out the word "almost" from the reporting, making Perry's complaint far stronger.
According to ABC's Jim Avila, on Aug. 18, Perry was "refusing to back off his charge that if the Federal Reserve prints more money to pay off debt, Chairman Ben Bernanke would be …" and then the network dubbed in one word from Perry: "treasonous." So much for "almost."
Forty-four percent of those stories only included the shortened version. Remember, I'm not talking about The Huffington Post here. This is ABC, CBS, NBC and the top five newspapers in the country - supposedly the cream of the journalistic crop.
There's Post liberal Eugene Robinson talking about Perry's "rhetorical fringe" and how "he had barely been in the race for 48 hours when he announced it would be 'treasonous' for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to increase the money supply before the 2012 election." Or liberal E.J. Dionne Jr. doing the same claiming Perry "used the term 'treasonous' to try and bully the head of the Federal Reserve."
That strategy played out throughout the media. Next came the "Ponzi Scheme" assault on Perry over Social Security. CNN's Kyra Phillips asked its generic Democrat if Perry was a "bomb thrower or truth teller" for that comment. I bet you know the answer they got. MSNBC pretend conservative Joe Scarborough claimed that Perry's positions mean "there is no way Rick Perry can win a general election." He's praying for a "Draft Joe" campaign instead.
While many of the attacks have focused on Perry's economic record, the media have also gone after him for enforcing the death penalty. NBC anchor Brian Williams quizzed Perry on executions during one debate and asked if the candidate "struggled to sleep at night." Lefty critics have complained Williams didn't inquire about the case of Cameron Todd Willingham, their Texas Mumia (the convicted cop killer beloved by lefties). Liberals are convinced both are equally convinced was innocent.
Not to worry, the media always gets the last word for the left. A new movie called "Incendiary," will explore that case as well - conveniently released this fall into the election season. Remember, when Citizens United released a movie about Hillary Clinton, the left went ballistic. But, like all things in the media, it's OK when they do it.
After all, they are on a holy mission to save Obama from the evil racists on the right - even if they have to lie to do it.
Dan Gainor is the Boone Pickens Fellow and the Media Research Center's Vice President for Business and Culture. His column appears each week on The Fox Forum. He can also be contacted on Facebook and Twitter as dangainor.