CBS Plays Up Perry 'N' Word Controversy; ABC, NBC Punt

CBS's Early Show was the only morning show of the Big Three networks on Monday to cover the controversy over a ranch leased by the family of Texas Governor Rick Perry that formerly used the racist "N" word in its name. Political analyst John Dickerson hinted that the Republican's presidential campaign may not "weather" the controversy, adding that "it's a real problem."

Fill-in anchor Jeff Glor led the 7 am Eastern hour of the CBS program with a teaser on the news story: "Texas Governor Rick Perry faces tough questions over a family hunting camp named with a racial slur. Fellow presidential candidate Herman Cain calls Perry 'very insensitive,' as Perry insists the word were removed decades ago." Nine minutes later, Glor labeled the issue a "race-related firestorm," as he introduced correspondent Jan Crawford's campaign 2012 round-up, which began with the story.

At the end of her report, Crawford wondered if the controversy would "keep going," given the speculation over New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's presidential ambitions, among other issues. Glor then introduced Dickerson and asked him, "How big is this Perry controversy, and how quickly does the campaign think they can put this behind them?" The analyst saw nothing but negatives in Perry's future, as he made clear in his answer:

DICKERSON: Well, if the Perry campaign was running along smoothly and always going well, this might have been the kind of thing he could weather. And also, if he had been in the race a little bit longer- when candidates have these kind of stories in their background, if they'd been in the race, they can kind of take care of them. But he's been having a very rough spot dealing with a number of difficult, troubled issues, and one of the problems with Perry, or any late-starting candidate, has always been, are there these little explosions in their backgrounds? And so, this is a problem he has to deal with. It distracts from his effort to get back on track. The best they can hope for in the Perry campaign is to somehow switch the subject on to some kind of ground where he has some more strength to talk about. But right now, it's a real problem.

Earlier in the segment, during her round-up, Crawford played a clip from President Obama's "reprimand" of the Republican presidential candidates for not condemning the booing of a homosexual soldier at a recent Republican debate. However, she didn't explain that it came from his Saturday speech to the homosexual activist group, the Human Rights Campaign, nor did she mention the left-of-center political agenda of the organization.

The full transcript of the Jan Crawford/John Dickerson segment, which aired nine minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour of Monday's Early Show:

JEFF GLOR: Now to the Republican race for president, where the speculation continues to grow over New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, while Texas Governor Rick Perry is facing a race-related firestorm.

CBS News political correspondent Jan Crawford is in Washington with the latest on both of these stories. Jan, good morning.

Jan Crawford, CBS News Political Correspondent; & John Dickerson, CBS News Political Analyst | NewsBusters.orgJAN CRAWFORD: Well, good morning, Jeff. I mean, the story, really, that everyone was talking about was in 'The Washington Post' this weekend. There was a hunting camp that was leased by Governor Perry and his family, and it was known at one time by a racial slur, and the name of that camp which is a variation of the 'N' word was, again, at one time painted on a rock by the entrance.

[CBS News Graphic: "Presidential Race: Firestorm Over Racial Slur On Perry-Leased Land"]

CRAWFORD (voice-over): Facing questions about the name of the camp, Rick Perry denied he used it when the racial slur was on the rock, saying his father painted it over in the mid-1980s after they leased the land. But several visitors to the camp insist they saw the word on the rock as late as the 1990s, and one rival slammed Perry for it.

HERMAN CAIN, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (from interview on ABC's "This Week): I'm going to say that the word was on the rock. The name of the place was called [expletive deleted.]-head That is very insensitive. And since Governor Perry has been going there for years to hunt, I think that it shows a lack of sensitivity.

CRAWFORD: Meanwhile, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie refused to answer reporters questions about his political future, and whether he will run for president. This comes as some conservatives are raising questions about his candidacy, and whether Christie is conservative enough. On CBS's 'Face the Nation,' former (sic) Senator John McCain, the 2008 Republican nominee, offered these words of advice to Christie.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R), ARIZONA (from interview on CBS's "Face The Nation"):The swimming pool looks a lot better until you jump right in. The water may not be quite as warm as you think.

CRAWFORD: And it wasn't advice, but a reprimand, that President Obama delivered Saturday night to the GOP presidential contenders. At a debate last month, none of the candidates spoke out when audience members booed a gay soldier.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA (from speech to the Human Rights Campaign): We don't believe in them being silent since. You want to be commander-in-chief? You can start by standing up for the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States, even when it's not politically convenient! (audience cheers and applauds)

CRAWFORD (on-camera): Now, out of all of these developments, the question is, which of these stories is going to keep going? Which is going to make news for the, you know, next weeks to come in this race? Perry, of course, quickly hopes to put that story about the hunting camp behind him. And I got to tell you, Jeff, if Chris Christie gets in the race this week, that bombshell is going to take over all of the political news.

GLOR: No lack of news here. All right. Jan, hold on for just one second. We're going to bring in CBS News political analyst John Dickerson as well. John, let's talk exactly about Jan's point here. How big is this Perry controversy, and how quickly does the campaign think they can put this behind them?

JOHN DICKERSON: Well, if the Perry campaign was running along smoothly and always going well, this might have been the kind of thing he could weather. And also, if he had been in the race a little bit longer- when candidates have these kind of stories in their background, if they'd been in the race, they can kind of take care of them. But he's been having a very rough spot dealing with a number of difficult, troubled issues, and one of the problems with Perry, or any late-starting candidate, has always been, are there these little explosions in their backgrounds? And so, this is a problem he has to deal with. It distracts from his effort to get back on track. The best they can hope for in the Perry campaign is to somehow switch the subject on to some kind of ground where he has some more strength to talk about. But right now, it's a real problem.

GLOR: Jan, Chris Christie- last week, they were saying he was 50/50 on getting in. Is the campaign up to 55/45 or 60/40 at this point? (laughs)

JAN CRAWFORD: (laughs) You know, what I was hearing over the weekend was that he was actually starting to see the real hurdles to him getting into this race, and it all comes down to timing. Because if you think about what Chris Christie would have to do if he announces his candidacy- and I'm told it will be- if he's going to get in, we'll know at some point this week, probably early this week- he's got three months to put a campaign together, raise tens of millions of dollars, organize in those states. And then, he's got to still campaign- do the debates and all of the other things that these candidates have to do. That is a huge, huge bar to him getting in. I think he got a little reality check over the weekend. That's why you saw some of the GOP establishment yesterday saying- eh, this is not going to be so easy for him if he does get in.

GLOR: John, does Chris Christie have a- given some of his moderate views, does he have a realistic path to the nomination if he decides to get in?


DICKERSON: Well, he has- there is a path. The question is, does that path exist with such a short amount of time? And in the states he's going to have to campaign in, they're not- a lot of the activists and voters that, when you talk to them about Christie, they say, fine, sounds interesting, just another candidate. They're not in this frenzy and fervor that some in the Republican establishment have tried to whip up around a Christie candidacy. In fact, you detect a little bit of frostiness, which is to say, don't tell us who the super hero candidate coming in is going to be. We'll take care of vetting him ourselves. That creates a little bit of resistance, which is tough to get over with a short period of time.

GLOR: Before we go here guys, Jan, as a keen legal observer, I wanted to ask you, the Supreme Court, as you know, comes back from recess tomorrow, talking about the President's health care law. What happens then?

CRAWFORD: Well, obviously, big day today at the Supreme Court. You know, the first Monday in October - that's when the justices come back from their summer break and start deciding the cases that are going to occupy them for the rest of this term. One of the ones that could be absolutely huge- and I think that's an understatement- would be whether or not the justices take up that challenge to President Obama's health care reform law. That case is headed straight to Supreme Court. Every single person in this country that follow it thinks the justices have to take it up. So what you're going to have happen this term in the Supreme Court, in addition to all of the other cases they're considering- it's a big term- is whether or not that health care law- President Obama's signature achievement- is unconstitutional, whether states and people in the states can be ordered to buy health insurance. That case could well be decided at the end of June, which, of course, Jeff- intersection of political and legal will be right in the middle of the presidential election.

GLOR: All right. Jan Crawford and John Dickerson, thanks to both of you, once again, on this Monday morning.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center