'Niggerhead': Washington Post Publishes Racially Charged Front Page Hit Piece on Rick Perry

In 2006, the Washington Post lead a racially charged smear campaign against former Senator George Allen (R-Va.) involving the previously unknown word "macaca."

On Sunday, the Post prominently featured a 3000-word, racially charged, front page hit piece involving Texas governor Rick Perry and a decades old bit of graffiti reading "Niggerhead":

In the early years of his political career, Rick Perry began hosting fellow lawmakers, friends and supporters at his family’s secluded West Texas hunting camp, a place known by the name painted in block letters across a large, flat rock standing upright at its gated entrance.

“Niggerhead,” it read.

Ranchers who once grazed cattle on the 1,070-acre parcel on the Clear Fork of the Brazos River called it by that name well before Perry and his father, Ray, began hunting there in the early 1980s. There is no definitive account of when the rock first appeared on the property. In an earlier time, the name on the rock was often given to mountains and creeks and rock outcroppings across the country. Over the years, civil rights groups and government agencies have had some success changing those and other racially offensive names that dotted the nation’s maps.

But the name of this particular parcel did not change for years after it became associated with Rick Perry, first as a private citizen, then as a state official and finally as Texas governor. Some locals still call it that. As recently as this summer, the slablike rock — lying flat, the name still faintly visible beneath a coat of white paint — remained by the gated entrance to the camp.

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"There is no definitive account of when the rock first appeared on the property."

Which means the Perrys were not responsible for placing it there.

Quite the contrary, as author Stephanie McCrummen relays over 3000 words, Perry and his family routinely painted over the offensive graffiti and eventually turned the rock it was painted on over so that it was completely hidden from view.

So why would the Post give so much print space to such an article?

He grew up in a segregated era whose history has defined and complicated the careers of many Southern politicians. Perry has spoken often about how his upbringing in this sparsely populated farming community influenced his conservatism. He has rarely, if ever, discussed what it was like growing up amid segregation in an area where blacks were a tiny fraction of the population.

 


The implication is clear: having grown up in a segregated part of Texas, Perry is a racist, and "Niggerhead" proves it:

But until he joined the Air Force, Perry has said, Paint Creek “was the only world that I knew.”

It was a mostly white world. In 1950, the census counted about 900 black residents out of a population of about 13,000 in Haskell County, numbers that have declined steadily. Most blacks worked as maids or field hands and lived in an across-the-tracks neighborhood in the city of Haskell, the county seat, about 20 minutes from Paint Creek.

Throckmorton County, where the hunting camp is located, was for years considered a virtual no-go zone for blacks because of old stories about the lynching of a black man there, locals said. The 1950 Census listed one black resident in Throckmorton County out of a population of about 3,600. In 1960, there were four; in 1970, two; in 1980, none. The 2010 Census shows 11 black residents.

Mae Lou Yeldell, who is black and has lived in Haskell County for 70 years, recalled a gas station refusing to sell her father fuel when he drove the family through Throckmorton in the 1950s. She said it was not uncommon in the 1950s and ’60s for whites to greet blacks with, “Morning, nigger!”

“I heard that so much it’s like a broken record,” said Yeldell, who had never heard of the hunting spot by the river.

The message couldn't be clearer if the author hit you over the head with a huge rock featuring the word "Niggerhead" on it.

And much like "macaca," one quite imagines the editors of the Post hoping this word sticks to Perry, especially in a race against America's first African-American president.

Speaking of Barack Obama, where were the 3000-word, front page hit pieces about him in October 2007 concerning his 20 year association with an America-hating reverend?

Or his connection to domestic terrorists?

Or his sparse legislative record as a state or United States senator?

Yeah, I don't recall them either.

But this is campaign 2012 when any piece of dirt about an Obama competitor is going to be dug up and put on front pages to protect the current White House resident.

The conclusion of this Post piece proves it:

As recently as this summer, the rock was still there, according to photographs viewed by The Washington Post.

In the photos, it was to the left of the gate. It was laid down flat. The exposed face was brushed clean of dirt. White paint, dried drippings visible, covered a word across the surface. An N and two G’s were faintly visible.

This is what the Post is willing to do to keep Obama in office.

Imagine what's in store for the eventual Republican nominee.

*****Update: Perry communications director Ray Sullivan has issued a statement via email concerning the Post piece.

"A number of claims made in the story are incorrect, inconsistent, and anonymous, including the implication that Rick Perry brought groups to the lease when the word on the rock was still visible. The one consistent fact in the story is that the word on a rock was painted over and obscured many years ago.

"Governor Perry and his family never owned, controlled or managed the property referenced in the Washington Post story. The 42,000-acre ranch is owned by the Hendricks Home for Children, a West Texas charity. http://www.hendrickhome.com/

"Perry’s father painted over offensive language on a rock soon after leasing the 1,000-acre parcel in the early 1980s. When Governor Perry was party to the hunting lease from 1997 to 2007, the property was described as northern pasture. He has not been to the property since 2006.

“In 1991 the Texas Legislature passed a bill to rename old, offensive place names."

*****Update II: ABC News's Christiane Amanpour asked Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain about this issue on Sunday's "This Week." She then brought it up during the subsequent Roundtable segment with ABC's Jake Tapper and former Clinton adviser Mark Penn.

*****Update III: A Post piece from July 2010 entitled "Democrats Digging Harder Than Ever for Dirt on Republicans" offered some interesting foreshadowing.

The Democratic Party is moving faster and more aggressively than in previous election years to dig up unflattering details about Republican challengers. In House races from New Jersey to Ohio to California, Democratic operatives are seizing on evidence of GOP candidates' unpaid income taxes, property tax breaks and ties to financial firms that received taxpayer bailout money. [...]

Democratic officials are advising campaigns to hire trackers to follow their Republican opponents to public events with video cameras, ready to catch any gaffe or misstatement. And the Democratic National Committee last week issued a call to the public to submit any embarrassing audio or video of Republicans, as well as copies of their direct-mail advertisements. [...]

Some years you ride the wave, and other years you paddle your canoe," Democratic strategist Paul Begala said. "Democrats, they've got to paddle like hell. So what you do when you're paddling is, as the Republicans seek to nationalize, you localize and personalize."

Nice of the Post to follow this advice.

For more on how the Post pushed "macaca" to unseat Allen, readers are advised to review NewsBusters' many articles on the subject.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.