ABC Continues Network Cheerleading of Perry Indictment: ‘A Kind of High Noon’

In the wake of the “big three” networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) devoting 25 minutes to the indictment of Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) in the story’s first two days, ABC’s World News with Diane Sawyer continued the network obsession with the potential 2016 presidential candidate. 

On Monday, August 18, anchor Diane Sawyer introduced a report on Perry by proclaiming “back here at home to Texas and a kind of high noon for Texas Governor Rick Perry facing indictment, but defiant again today.” [See video below.]

Sawyer then turned to Jim Avila, ABC’s Senior National Correspondent, to provide a fairly one-sided attack piece on the Texas Republican. After mentioning Perry’s reasoning for vetoing funds to Texas’ public integrity unit, the ABC reporter did his best to discredit the governor’s argument:

Perry’s defense team played the tape again for reporters today and on radio late this afternoon the governor vowed to expose what he calls a political farce despite the fact that both the judge who appointed the special prosecutor and the special prosecutor himself are Bush appointed Republicans. 

The ABC reporter then appeared on screen in front of a country jail to hype “Governor Perry will be arraigned on August 29th. He’ll surrender here at the county jail where like every other prisoner, he’ll be fingerprinted and have a mugshot taken.” Avila continued to detail how “critics note that in his long career as governor, two other state officials, neither in charge of the corruption unit were arrested for DUI without a peep from Perry.”

Other than brief sound bites from Governor Perry and his attorney, no quotes from his supporters appeared during the segment. Instead, Avila chose to promote his critics by playing up how they “say Governor Perry had another motive. Wanting to silence the drunken DA because she was leading a corruption investigation into misappropriation of funds at one of the governor’s pet projects.” 

The ABC report concluded by once again overplaying the charges against Perry and that “the special prosecutor contends it was that threat that went beyond the line of hardball politics and venturing into criminal behavior.”  

See relevant transcript below. 


ABC World News with Diane Sawyer

August 18, 2014

DIANE SAWYER: And back here at home to Texas and a kind of high noon for Texas Governor Rick Perry facing indictment, but defiant again today. ABC’s Senior National Correspondent Jim Avila gives us perspective on the showdown tonight. 

JIM AVILA: This jailhouse video of a drunk Austin, Texas district attorney is the cornerstone of the Rick Perry defense against felony charges he abused his power and tried to coerce that DA, Rosemary Lehmberg, to resign by threatening to cut the public integrity budget she controlled by $7.5 million. She was convicted in jail for nearly a month. But despite the embarrassment DUI is a misdemeanor allowing her to stay in office. Perry’s defense team played the tape again for reporters today and on radio late this afternoon the governor vowed to expose what he calls a political farce despite the fact that both the judge who appointed the special prosecutor and the special prosecutor himself are Bush appointed Republicans. 

RICK PERRY: And I intend to fight with everything that I have and I intend to win this thing. 

AVILA: Governor Perry will be arraigned on August 29th. He’ll surrender here at the county jail where like every other prisoner, he’ll be fingerprinted and have a mugshot taken. Governor Perry says he was just doing his job when he vetoed the state money that financed investigations into public corruption. But critics note that in his long career as governor, two other state officials, neither in charge of the corruption unit were arrested for DUI without a peep from Perry. He said nothing. Why this time? 

TONY BUZBEE: I'm here to defend the governor and to lead the defense team for this particular case. 

AVILA: Critics say Governor Perry had another motive. Wanting to silence the drunken DA because she was leading a corruption investigation into misappropriation of funds at one of the governor’s pet projects. 

CRAIG MCDONALD: The public integrity unit at that time was investigating cronyism in Governor Perry’s cancer research program. 

AVILA: And the special prosecutor contends it was that threat that went beyond the line of hardball politics and venturing into criminal behavior. Jim Avila, ABC News, Austin. 

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.