CNN’s Old Hat Texas Coverage

Luckily, some local columnists don't watch cable

Jeannie Kever began her Houston Chronicle column yesterday - a column applauding the “US media” for avoiding the “Texas cowboy stereotype” in its primary coverage of her state - as follows:

Maybe you’ve noticed something missing from the national news coverage of Texas’ presidential primary.

We haven’t seen Katie Couric in a cowboy hat.

Perhaps we haven’t. But we (excluding, apparently, Kever) have seen CNN’s Ali Velshi delivering reports for over a week now from small-town Texas donning both a cowboy hat and some sort of brown animal-hide jacket. Correspondents in costume! Just like The Daily Show!

More from Kever, who is clearly not getting her primary coverage from The Best Political Team on Television:

But as coverage of today’s primary intensified, Texas appeared largely to have shed its image of urban cowboys and oil derricks.

Not if CNN has anything to do with it! As just one of numerous examples: a segment Velshi filed last week (in full cowboy attire) in which not a single Texas cliché went unmentioned. Deep in the Heart of Texas! Cowboys! Drivers of Big Trucks! Rich oil guys like J.R. Ewing! Horses! Steer! Combines!

T.J. HOLMES: Our Ali Velshi and the CNN Election Express deep in the heart of Texas….

ALI VELSHI: … Now, we were in Bandera, Texas, a little earlier today. That is the cowboy capital of the world. And they welcomed me with the hat on.

[O]ne of the things we talked about was gas prices…Now, down here in Texas, while there are a lot of horses, there are also a lot of people who have to drive. And they drive big trucks down here, T.J., not those minivans…Some people in Texas are getting rich off of oil, but a lot of people are just working people…

HOLMES: …All right. And people are willing to talk to you. You said all you needed was the hat. And you’re telling me, all you had to do was put the hat on and people accepted you just fine?

VELSHI: Well, it wasn’t just that. I had to — I had to wear the hat and I had to ride a steer…So I proved my worth as a cowboy. As we say, I’m not just hat and no cattle.

HOLMES: What about a horse? Are you going to ride a horse? Don’t they ride horses down there?

VELSHI: I did ride a horse.


VELSHI: I did ride a horse. That was a lot of fun… I’m in agricultural country, so I might have to get on a combine or something.

HOLMES: Yes. That’s exactly what Betty just said. You need to hop on a tractor.

VELSHI: That’s right.

They may not watch cable at the Houston Chronicle, but it’s a different story - literally - at the (Fort Worth) Star-Telegram, which also ran a column yesterday about press coverage of the Texas primary, cowboys, and other clichés.

Per the Star-Telegram’s Alyson Ward:

You know what happens when the national media report on Texas: They bubble over with Lone Star clichés - they just can’t help themselves…We’ve already seen CNN’s Ali Velshi reporting from Austin with a cowboy hat plopped on top of his bald head…

Velshi’s all set, costume-wise, should CNN dispatch him up to Wyoming to cover Saturday’s caucus.

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.