The Washington Post, which (like many other major media outlets) has yet to find any significant interest in the background of President Barack Obama, ran a story yesterday alleging that Rick Perry's Democratic father owned a piece of property that had a legacy name that was racist.
Apparently the piece of property he bought had a rock with a racist name for black people painted on it. And apparently Rick Perry's father painted it over. Or did he? This -- and oh so much more -- is what you get if you pay for a Washington Post subscription. I'll pause while you sign up for regular delivery.
Now then, maybe when Rick Perry and his father were Democrats, which is when this decades-old story is dated to, they were racists. Maybe Democrats have a big problem with racism. I don't know. But as Hugh Hewitt points out:
The Post article has to be read in its entirety to grasp just how thin is the connection between Perry and the rock with the offensive place name, but here is the key line in the article: "Of those interviewed, the seven who said they saw the rock said the block-lettered name was clearly visible at different points in the 1980s and 1990s. One, a former worker on the ranch, believes he saw it as recently as 2008."
Many, many people were interviewed for the story. Only seven recall seeing the rock, and not one of them connect Rick Perry to it, nor do any of the people --either from among these seven or who knows how many more were contacted for the piece-- tie Rick Perry to offensive comments, language or actions. Though a lot of space is devoted to this story, no detailed reporting on what the seven saw and when they saw it is included, which allows for incredible supposition about the ambiguity to take root. Thus a story that could have major implications for the presidential campaign in 2012 is built on anonymous sources whose stories aren't even detailed.
It is a drive-by slander.
Rick Perry hunted at a camp that long ago had been given an offensive name which long ago his family had taken steps to cover because of its offensive content. That's the whole of the story.
I'm not a big Perry fan, but journalism such as this is reprehensible. It's not just the unbelievable double standard about how Democrats and Republicans are treated on race issues. It's also that real people are defamed with anonymous sources, in the absence of evidence.
Last week, Frank Bruni opined at the New York Times that sensationalism drives away the best candidates. Of course it does. I'm angry that Mitch Daniels won't run in this environment where his family would be manhandled as collateral damage, but I understand it.
I know this type of journalism is as old as journalism itself, but it's wrong and must be condemned. For the sake of the country.