Accuracy in Media

With Texas Governor Rick Perry all but in the Republican presidential primary field for the 2012 election, the mainstream media have already begun to weave a narrative about the nation’s longest-serving governor.

CNN said the transition between George W. Bush’s Texas administration and Perry’s “wasn’t a difficult one,” in an attempt to link the two men. Indeed, CNN goes on to say that “in some ways, they are nearly the same type of guy—a devout Christian conservative who often blurs the line between politics and religion.”

This superficial reading of the Texasgovernors ignores the differences in the two men’s upbringings and political tactics. Toby Harnden, U.S. editor of the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper, reports that Perry’s Texas roots go back generations and that the governor was raised in a small farming community. Former President Bush, on the other hand, is aNew England transplant and the son of a former Vice President who later became President from a long-standing political family. The elder former President Bush in fact endorsed Perry’s rival in the Republican primary for Texas Governor last year, underlining the differences between the two camps.

CNN emphasizes one of the things Bush and Perry have in common, their non-aversion to public prayer, reporting yet again in the fourth paragraph on Perry’s appearance at a Christian prayer service in Houston earlier this month. CNN leaves any mention of Texas’s strong economic performance that would be the key to any Perry candidacy to the 30th paragraph, and then only in the quote of a political analyst.

CNN also restates Perry’s 2009 quote that “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American public, who knows what may come of that [secession].” CNN reports that a Democratic strategist says that “he would be haunted by his…suggestion thatTexasmight secede from the country.” But CNN cites William Murchison, a “conservative writer and Perry acquaintance,” as saying that Perry was joking.

Absent from CNN’s report on Perry that seeks more to tie him to an unpopular former President and Christian beliefs that coastal elites find “out of place” is an analysis of Perry’s record as Governor. According to The Wall Street Journal (which cites the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas), Texas added 37% of the net new jobs in the U.S. since the recovery began through May. Also,Texas had net new job creation since the beginning of the Great Recession. A Perry candidacy would focus on these issues, no matter how much the media would like to focus on how “he certainly makes news—for often odd reasons” or public Christian prayer. If the American people want real “Rick Perry Facts,” they will not get them from CNN.

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