There was the following sentence in the article titled “Why Rick Perry may be out of luck” appearing in the New Yorker (August 19):
"Last Friday, the Texas Governor was indicted on two counts: abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant. What those charges mean, though, is hard to say. The indictment itself is just two pages and, to put it charitably, unelaborated." http://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/rick-perry-may-luck
I’m unfamiliar with the phrase, “to put it charitably.”
CED defines “charitably” as;
Verb. in a kind way, not judging other people in a severe way: example. She described him, rather charitably, as quiet whereas I would have said he was boring.
But the above definition doesn’t look sit well to me with the sentence, “two-page indictment, to put it charitably is unelaborated,” because “unelaborated” indictment is felt to be rather a bitter criticism.
Google Ngram shows popularity of “to put it mildly” (0.0000183846% in 2007) in comparison with marginal currency of “to put it charitably (0.0000005512% in 2007).
What does “to put it charitably” here mean? Is it same with “to put it mildly" or "to say the least”? If it is, I wonder why the writer preferred to use a phrase not so popular.