CBS Highlights Liberal Discomfort Over 'Sketchy' Indictment of Perry

After deluging Americans with two days of heavy coverage of Rick Perry's indictment, the network morning shows on Tuesday eased up. Only CBS This Morning offered a story on the Republican's vigorous defense. Reporter Jan Crawford noted that growing outrage against the indictment includes liberals: "Among those Democrats is President Obama's former adviser David Axelrod, who suggested the indictment was 'pretty sketchy' in a tweet over the weekend." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]

Crawford also made time for two clips of conservative Ben Ginsberg, a lawyer representing Perry. He railed, "This is an outlandish prosecution. I mean, it will never, ever, ever, stand." Ginsberg added, "It is unprecedented, it is outside the bounds. I think that's why you see so many people who are not Rick Perry supporters, who are Democrats, saying how wrong this indictment is." Of course, Crawford still found time to throw cold water on the governor's 2016 plans.

She suggested, "Still, the criminal charges now threaten both Perry's legacy and his hopes for a second presidential run." Crawford allowed, "Now, Perry's expected to be arraigned in the next few days, but he is free to continue traveling around the country gearing up for another possible presidential run in 2016." 

From Saturday through Monday morning, the network morning and evening shows devoted 25 minutes (17 stories) to hyping Perry's indictment. Unlike Crawford, most of these segments downplayed liberals who are defending him. 

The indictment arose from efforts by Perry to get Texas district attorney Rosemary Lehmberg to resign after a drunk driving conviction. Crawford played video of her ranting at cops: "So now you've ruined my entire political career so that tomorrow morning the state's going to say that I was drunk and in jail all night and y'all restrained me." 

A transcript of the August 19 segment is below: 


7:12am ET

NORAH O'DONNELL: And Texas Governor Rick Perry has a dream team of lawyers on his side this morning. The potential presidential candidate faces felony charges of abusing his power. Jan Crawford's here in Studio 57 with the next steps. Jan, good morning.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Texas Showdown; Perry Assembles Defense Team In Power Abuse Case]  

JAN CRAWFORD: Well, good morning. So the special prosecutor in Perry's case says he expects the Governor to turn himself in sometime this week. Which means he's going to be fingerprinted, get his mug shot taken. But as you would expect, Perry and his new lawyers are fighting back. This is the video that led to Texas Governor Rick Perry's indictment. 

ROSEMARY LEHMBERG: So now you've ruined my entire political career so that tomorrow morning the state's going to say that I was drunk and in jail all night and y'all restrained me. 

CRAWFORD: After Travis County's Democratic district attorney Rosemary Lehmberg was arrested in April 2013 for drunk driving, Perry, a Republican, called on her to resign. Then he cut more than $7 million from her budget when she refused. Last Friday, he was indicted on two felony charges for illegally trying to coerce Lehmberg to quit. Perry called into on Sean Hannity's radio show on Monday to defend himself. 

RICK PERRY: I intend to fight with everything that I have against those who would erode our state's constitution purely for political purposes. 

BEN GINSBERG: This is an outlandish prosecution. I mean, it will never, ever, ever, stand. 

CRAWFORD: Ben Ginsberg is one of several prominent attorneys now representing Perry. 

GINSBERG: It is unprecedented, it is outside the bounds. I think that's why you see so many people who are not Rick Perry supporters, who are Democrats, saying how wrong this indictment is. 

CRAWFORD: Among those Democrats, is President Obama's former adviser David Axelrod, who suggested the indictment was "pretty sketchy" in a tweet over the weekend. Still, the criminal charges now threaten both Perry's legacy and his hopes for a second presidential run. 

JAMES HENSON [TEXAS POLITICS PROJECT DIRECTOR]: This clearly is not something that the campaign wanted at all. You really need to have this knocked down, the last thing you want is some kind of a trial. 

CRAWFORD: Now, Perry's expected to be arraigned in the next few days, but he is free to continue traveling around the country gearing up for another possible presidential run in 2016. He plans to visit three presidential battleground states in the next two weeks. 

O'DONNELL: Not slowing down. 

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org