Jonathan Chait of the New York Magazine pans the Perry indictment:
This Indictment Of Rick Perry Is Unbelievably Ridiculous
They say a prosecutor could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich, and this always seemed like hyperbole, until Friday night a Texas grand jury announced an indictment of governor Rick Perry. The “crime” for which Perry faces a sentence of 5 to 99 years in prison is vetoing funding for a state agency. The conventions of reporting — which treat the fact of an indictment as the primary news, and its merit as a secondary analytic question — make it difficult for people reading the news to grasp just how farfetched this indictment is.
As if to illustrate his point about conventional news coverage missing the point, the NY Times delivers a long piece which barely touches on the absurd legal foundation of this indictment. Readers are offered this legal background:
The charges set in motion a battle of competing narratives over just what kind of overreach the indictment reflects. Democrats say the charges describe the arrogant overreach of a governor with unchecked power. Republicans took up the argument made by Mr. Perry on Saturday that the excess was in the investigation and indictment themselves, which they described as political in nature and extremely dubious in legality.
So its as simple as Democrats versus Republicans? Maybe they meant to limit themselves to Texas, without wasting the pixels to insert the extra five letters. But Mr. Chait is a reliable lefty, as are luminaries such as David Axelrod and Alan Dershowitz.
The Times also included this gem of an insight:
The indictment’s more fundamental challenge to Mr. Perry is that it could serve as a distraction from his well-choreographed comeback plan. Should he become a threat in the 2016 primaries, his opponents will almost certainly use it against him.
So Republican Presidential candidates will woo engaged (and enraged!) conservatives by backing a drunk Democratic partisan prosecutor?
Uh huh. Just as any Democrat who emerges to challenge Hillary will use Bill Clinton's impeachment against her, because the death wish knows no partisan boundaries. Or something.
PROGRESS: In a follow-up story covering Perry's effort on the Sunday talkies, the Times adds this:
The governor said he had received support from a range of political figures, not just Republicans like Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and the former Florida governor, Jeb Bush, but also, less predictably, from the other end of the political spectrum. He quoted a Twitter post from David Axelrod, the former senior adviser to Mr. Obama, as saying the indictment seemed “pretty sketchy.”
Mr. Axelrod’s full post read: “Unless he was demonstrably trying to scrap the ethics unit for other than his stated reason, Perry indictment seems pretty sketchy.”
Mr. Perry also cited Alan M. Dershowitz, a retired professor of constitutional and criminal law at Harvard University. Mr. Dershowitz told Newsmax, the conservative news website, that he was a “longtime Democrat who would never vote for Rick Perry,” but that the indictment represented an unacceptable “criminalization of party differences.”
The Times needs to be careful not to leave their readers alone on a limb and looking foolish when the rest of the world is in agreement that this indictment is a travesty. On the other hand, bad news like that needs to be unwrapped slowly. Tricky!