Did Rick Perry's Clear Channel Connections Sink Debra Medina?

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Last week, I argued that Debra Medina was set-up by Glenn Beck and Rick Perry (“Gut Reaction: Team Rick Perry Used Glenn Beck to Attack Debra Medina”). As you'll recall, Medina was skyrocketing in the polls — it was certain she would force a runoff, and becoming increasingly possible that she would be in that runoff herself. For Medina, a quick appearance on Glenn Beck's radio show probably seemed like a terrific idea — Beck's constant promotion of extreme right-wing views appealed to the type of people who were supporting Debra Medina.

But Medina was not talking to Glenn Beck the activist — because there is no such thing. Especially not when Beck's boss is such a major supporter of Rick Perry. According to the Texas Ethics Commission, Clear Channel CEO and Chairman Lowry Mays has donated almost $300,000 to Rick Perry.

Clear Channel CEO Donations to Perry
Year Donation
2001-2002 $51,400
 2003-2004 $55,000
 2005-2006 $80,000
 2007-2008 $50,000
 2009 $50,000
 Total $286,400
Source: Texas Ethics Commission

Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and countless other right-wing radio station personalities are owned by Clear Channel. Beck is paid $10 million by a Clear Channel subsidiary for his radio show (Source: Forbes). Is it any surprise, then, that he ambushed Medina the way he did — and subsequently told all of his radio listeners to support Perry? After he finished his interview with Medina, Beck went on to pronounce his love for Rick Perry (Source: Radio Interview Transcript):

GLENN: I think I can write her off the list. Let me take another look at Kay Bailey Hutchison if I have to. Rick, I think you and I could French kiss right now.

PAT: Let me tell you something. He's a damn handsome man.

GLENN: He's a damn handsome man.

PAT: Looks good in a pair of jeans.


PAT: He's a handsome man.

GLENN: Wow. The fastest way back to 4%.

The set-up by Beck was quickly echoed throughout the mainstream media. The Dallas Morning News went on to immediately call it a “game-ending-gaffe.” Few in the media, however, noted Perry's financial ties to Clear Channel and Glenn Beck — or took any moments to repeat the absolutely bizarre conspiracy theories Beck puts out on his own. After all, this is Glenn Beck:

It sadly is not surprising that violence can result when Beck proclaims that our government is marching towards fascism, or when he salivates at the thought of the rising up of a militias, or when he warns that “we are a county heading towards socialism, totalitarianism, beyond your wildest imagination”. Distrust and hatred of government are not unforeseeable results when Beck tells his audience that “everything” reported on by the traditional media “is a lie”, or when he claims that the AmericCorps bill “indoctrinates your child into community service through the federal government”. When Beck muses aloud about the various ways he could kill Michael Moore, or lashes out at the “the war against the American way”, and when he claims that the president's budget is enslaving and “out and out evil” (more evil than extraordinary rendition, according to Beck), he cannot feign surprise if and when the seeds of hatred and panic he sows bear fruit.

When he flatly and unequivocally states that the “destruction of the West is happening”, or when he shows photos of the president transitioning to photos of Hitler, Lenin, and Stalin and asks “is this where we're headed?”, he is not merely playing the role, as he puts it, of the “rodeo clown.”

Debra Medina's gaffe — set-up by a suspicious line of questioning from an employee of one of Rick Perry's top contributors — could end up being the turning point from the election going to a runoff to Perry winning the primary outright


About Author

Phillip Martin

Currently the Research and Policy Director for Progress Texas and the Texas Research Institute, Phillip Martin writes occasional long-form pieces for BOR that promote focused analysis and insight into Texas politics. Born and raised in Austin, Phillip started working in politics in 2003 and started writing on BOR in the summer of 2005. Phillip has worked for the Texas Democratic Trust, the Texas Legislative Study Group, and now the Progress Texas family. He is a lifelong Houston Astros fan, a loyal Longhorn, and loves swimming at Barton Springs Pool.


  1. The nature of things
    A coyote doesn't think it is wrong to kill sheep it comes natural, they run in packs. We should get rid of the pack that has infested the statehouse.  

  2. Like it or not, Medina said something stupid
    on the air. This is not new. Politicians do it all the time.

    What we as Texans have to do is, and while I am not a Tea Partier in any way shape or form I do think their framing on this is brilliant, take back our country — that is to say, take back Texas for the Democrats.

    A whole 'nother country, indeed — but a microcosm, as well, of all the things the GOP mismanaged since w's first term started — is Texas. We have needy people, we have a broken school system, we have corrupt politicians on a scale that can only be described as Texas-sized.

    It should be the mission of every media outlet in the state to point out that outside influences are funding and allying with Rick Perry in this race, that the People of Texas are not being heard in Austin now and have not been since the heyday of Craddick, whose slavish devotion to the uttlerly corrupt Tom DeLay resulted in the out-of-sequence last redistricting (remember that, when half the lege — the Dem half — ran away to Oklahoma? Remember how DeLay engaged the Department of Homeland Security to track down House members?) the GOP used to design “safe” districts for its incumbents and incoming members.

    Instead we're all concerned with whether or not a GOP candidate is getting a fair shake.

    Let them eat their own. Our mission must be to elect Democrats, lest the state be as bankrupted as the nation was in 2007. The GOP stands for big bidness's big money first, last, and always, and has no truck with the concerns of individual citizens — we are, to them, cannon fodder units.

  3. PatriciaAJones on

    Perry may be trying to “sink Medina” but
    Don't you think the Glenn Beck interview with her has backfired on Perry?  You can't buy this kind of publicity, and good strokes or bad, she's now on the radar of the national media.  Here is one “independent voter” who hopes she forces a runoff.  Texans need to BootPerry.org right on down his own toll roads.

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