Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Beltway Nitwits get it wrong again.

Ah yes, the White House Press Corps. These are the self-agrandizing hacks who pretend to write the news when we all know their real goal is face time. Case in point: The indignation over the delay in the White House reporting the Dick Cheney hunting accident. Yes, I know it's almost old news, but it shouldn't be. It's not the shooting I take issue with--accidents really do happen--but the breakdown in communication perplexes me.

The issue is not whether or not the American people have a right to be informed, which is the unfortunate position the White House Press Corps is taking. The people do have a right to be informed but the issue is one of legal protocol. Why was there a delay in calling the police. Standard Operating Procedure in any hospital is to call the police when somebody requires treatment for a gunshot wound. It doesn't matter if that injury was sustained in a hunting accident or a gang related shooting and the victim has no say in the matter.

The fact that the police weren't notified right away indicates that somebody pulled strings to keep them out of the loop. This is a manipulation of the status quo. You're average citizen wouldn't be able to impose such a delay, but Cheney is not your average citizen. As Vice President he has the ability to alter normal procedure and in this case it's clear he did. That's what you call an abuse of power. Why was he so inclined?

Conservative spin doctors have been playing the "HUMAN TRAGEDY" angle on this one. They have spoken about Whittington and Cheney and their families as though everybody needs to stop and shed a single tear. That's bull. Cheney's getting paid a lot of money to be held publicly accountable for everything he does. If he eats two bowls of corn flakes, he'd better have his story straight. That's the price you pay for being in that office. In this instance the Veep shot a man. That's a pretty big deal.

I'm not upset with Cheney for shooting somebody. It's about time that this life long war monger got a little blood on his hands, even if it was in an accidental shooting. What upsets me is the complete disregard for due process Cheney and the Bush administration exhibited. Sure, four days after the event Cheney issued a brief statement, but why wasn't he questioned by police right after the shooting?

At worst Cheney might have been drunk. Obviously that is a scenario that would have given the left a lot of PR fodder, but ultimately that's forgivable--especially if Cheney had opted to come forward and face the music. Minor criminal charges would have been filed had alcohol been determined an attributing cause to the accident, but at the most Cheney would have been asked to pay a fine and seek treatment. If Whittington was also under the influence the charges might have been dropped if both men promised to never hunt again.

The press doesn't see it that way. Instead of asking why the police weren't called they want to know why they weren't informed. The White House Press Corps might be the lowest form of journalist. They sit in a special room and wait for the news to be handed to them. They remind me of hungry carp waiting for people to throw them scraps of stale bread. You can't even compare them to sharks because that intimates that they are predatory. These hacks and yahoos filling seats in the White House press room can't write a story until they're handed a press release. God forbid somebody should get off his butt and make a phone call or follow a lead. You know, reporting? Remember that? They used to teach it in journalism school.

Who, what, where, why and when. The five questions an average journalist must ask. What is the standard procedure for handling a gunshot wound? Why was this procedure not followed? Who decided to depart from the norm? Where was Dick Cheney when this decision was made? When were you planning on calling the police?

The White House Press Corps version of those five questions is something like this: Why didn't you tell us? Who do you think you are? What am I supposed to tell my boss? Where's my paycheck? When can I take my next vacation?

Actually what I really want to know is where Dick Cheney gets off taking a hunting trip. Cheney travels with an extensive security detail and has a medical team with him at all times. Besides the obvious logistical concerns of putting the Vice President in close proximity to loaded weapons, you have the enormous expense of paying all of those people to follow Cheney everywhere he goes. How much body armor could have been purchased with the money spent on Cheney's traveling party?

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