The Times attempts to read the Post: What happened at Perry’s ranch?


Destroying the rock: What happened at Rick Perry’s ranch concerning the unfortunate word which appeared on that rock?

We don’t know, but we have an excuse. We’ve spent hours reading Stephanie McCrummen’s report in Sunday’s Washington Post.

McCrummen’s report appeared on the Post’s front page. It ran more than 2900 words.

And it’s an awful piece of work. Consider what happened when the New York Times tried to explain what it says.

This morning, the editors thunder about the Perry family’s conduct, staging their latest loud entertainment. These editors rarely fail to posture. Destroy the rock, they’ve now said:
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (10/5/11): Gov. Perry’s Rock

Untold decades ago, someone decided to name a hunting camp in West Texas “Niggerhead,” using a phrase so commonplace around the South that it was used as a brand name for oysters, soap, tobacco and even golf tees. When Gov. Rick Perry’s family took over the lease for the camp in 1983, it could have demanded that the name be changed. It could have destroyed the rock on which the name was painted. It could have broken with an era when vicious racism was so casual that officials put such a word on maps around the country.
Nuclear weapons could have been used. Could permits have been obtained?

The Perrys could have destroyed the rock! Then too, the editors could have read McCrummen’s report with more care. As they continue, they try to explain what McCrummen reported. They try but, as always, they fail:
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (continuing directly): Instead, Mr. Perry’s father simply painted over the name, although not very thoroughly. The Washington Post found several people who said the word was clearly visible just in the last few years. Now that the hunting camp has become part of the presidential campaign, the governor says the name “has no place in the modern world.” In that, he is certainly right.
“The Washington Post found several people who said the word was clearly visible just in the last few years?” We’re sorry, but that’s just wrong, if we’re going by what it says in McCrummen’s lengthy report.

What actually happened at Perry’s ranch? What did people tell McCrummen? We have little real idea, largely because McCrummen’s report is remarkably hard to decipher. But we can say one thing with some confidence. In her report, McCrummen does not cite “several people who said the word was clearly visible just in the last few years.” Though we can’t entirely blame the editors for thinking that’s what they read.

When it comes to race, these editors rarely fail to posture. When it comes to serious racial issues, they rarely fail to bail. This morning, they can be found in a hunting camp in hog heaven, discussing destroying the rock.

Tomorrow, we’ll work our way through McCrummen’s report. It’s one of the most intriguing news reports we have read in some time.

What actually happened at Perry’s ranch? We don’t have the slightest idea—but we have a good excuse.


  1. One thing that we do know about what happened at Perry's ranch is that the Perry family were all ardent Democrats at the time that it did happen.

  2. I sometimes imagine that in order to be on the New York Times Editorial Board, one has to take and IQ test -- and flunk.