DeLay case illustrates media's lack of legal knowledge

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The very smart Media Blog over at National Review Online has a post about the Tom DeLay indictment that references the Chronicle‘s reporting on the infamous list Ronnie Earle doesn’t actually have:

[T]he Houston Chronicle reported that prosecutors on Earle’s team said in court that they only had a “similar” list. They said that the list they had was a precursor to the document referenced in the indictments.

The Houston Chronicle reported that this so-called precursor list, which the DA acquired from a sweeping request for TRMPAC documents, mentions 17 candidates, not seven. The Chronicle also reported that the dollar amounts on the list totaled $230,000, not $190,000.

Then Stephen Spruiell ends the post with this observation:

The media were so eager to wrap the investigation of DeLay into an overall narrative of GOP decline and collapse that they didn’t look at the facts and the law. As the motives of this district attorney become clear and the case against DeLay and his associates weakens, the media shifts its attention to Rove and Libby. Aside from the occasional potshot, the DeLay indictment is vanishing from the national media — especially when the news, like the Chronicle report yesterday, is so embarrassing for Ronnie Earle.

The bolded part is a familiar bH argument, except that the problem is more than just the media looking at the facts and the law. The problem is that media folks often have little knowledge and no expertise when it comes to the law (which shows up as either weak or false news reporting and editorializing) and they don’t seek out smart legal people for help. Locally, Beldar and Tom Kirkendall would help the Chronicle tremendously in this area.

As for the media turning its attention to Karl Rove, at least the Chronicle hasn’t (yet) posted the AP’s breaking news story on the contents of Rove’s garage.

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Anne Linehan is a co-founder of blogHOUSTON.