On Wednesday’s Newsroom, CNN’s Rick Sanchez used a recent pro-Texas secession rally in Austin to renew attention on Governor Rick Perry’s April 2009 speech to a tea party where he appeared to endorse this political view. Sanchez, along with CNN political analyst Roland Martin, later strongly hinted that Governor Perry could be painted as a racist for using “states’ rights” language.
Sanchez began the last segment of the 3 pm Eastern hour with a clip from a rally organized by the Texas Nationalist Movement, where Republican Debra Medina (who was not identified by the anchor or by the on-screen graphics) quoted from Thomas Jefferson in her plea for Texas secession: “Stepping off into secession may, in fact, be a bloody war. We are aware. We understand that the tree of freedom is occasionally watered with the blood of tyrants and patriots.”
Medina is running for the Republican nomination in the Texas gubernatorial race in 2010, which pits her against Governor Perry. Despite this detail, the CNN anchor then raised the possible tie to the executive’s tea party speech:
SANCHEZ: We tend to dismiss such talk as coming from the political fringe, but keep in mind- this is important- the state’s own governor, Rick Perry, was accused of stirring stuff like this up when he addressed a tea party. This was back in April. In fact, we got it. Remember this?
TEXAS GOVERNOR RICK PERRY (from April 15, 2009): It gives me that thrill up my leg when I see all the people standing out here on the city hall of Austin, Texas, with liberty in their hearts and independence on their mind. I’m talking about states’ rights. (Crowd cheers and applause) States’ rights! States’ rights!
Mr. Sanchez then introduced Martin, and asked, “Is the governor partly responsible for some of this crazy talk?” The CNN political analyst initially minimized Governor Perry’s role in the push for Texas secession: “You’re going to have this conversation, regardless of whether the governor made the comment or not, but...You have a governor who is now embroiled in a very difficult race. He’s facing Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison....He is trying to appeal to these hardcore conservatives because he knows if he can knock her out in the primary.” Despite this outline, Martin added that Perry’s rhetoric was “still just stupid talk. It’s just ridiculous.”
After Sanchez questioned the governor’s sincerity in cheering on the “states’ rights” issue, Martin, a Texas native, continued to criticize Perry and introduced the race issue, comparing the Republican to a notorious segregationist governor during the 1960s:
MARTIN: Like many of these other folks around the country- they’re trying to tap into this anger, this resentment and this outrage that we see all across the country. We see it in town hall meetings, but it is ridiculous for him as the governor, and frankly, for me, as- look, as a fellow Texas Aggie as he is, it’s embarrassing to hear him talk like this. He’s the governor of the state. You don’t want the governor talking this way. And you also have to be very careful when you start talking about states’ rights. As an African-American, states’ rights has a whole different meaning-
MARTIN: Because you start thinking about Ross Barnett in Mississippi- you start think about what happened when it came to segregation, [and] when it came to Brown versus Board of Education. So he needs to be very careful using that kind of language by saying ‘states’ rights.’
Martin didn’t directly call Perry a racist, but Sanchez took that next step against Perry. The anchor replied, “‘States’ rights’ has racist overtones- I’ll say it for you.” The analyst made no reply to this more open critique of Perry.
Despite the clearly controversial nature of the secessionist and states’ rights positions, Sanchez and Martin are unsurprisingly continuing the media’s double standard of portraying the political opponents of President Obama and his leftist allies as “fringe” elements, to use the term the anchor himself used, while portraying left-wing protesters as mainstream.