Faux Outrage From The White House Press Corp

To tell you the truth, the mainstream media’s faux outrage over not being alerted sooner about Dick Cheney mistaking one of his pals for quail has already gotten old. Here’s a long report from Time on the whole thing:

“Cheney insisted on carrying out a strategy he had worked out with the ranch owner, Katharine Armstrong, in which she was to call a trusted reporter at the local paper, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, to disclose the news. Caller-Times Managing Editor Shane Fitzgerald told TIME that the newspaper had done its usual nightly checks with local law enforcement agents on Saturday and had been told nothing was going on. Armstrong started leaving messages at the newspaper at 8 a.m., reached a reporter by 11 a.m. and the newspaper posted its story on the Web at 1:48 p.m. local time Sunday. At 3:34 p.m. eastern time, The Associated Press finally flashed the news: “Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and injured a man during a hunting trip in Texas.” Fitzgerald said he is “mystified” about the chain of events and that the public should have been notified much earlier, even if the shooter had been some random guy. Even on Monday, the newspaper struggled to get a copy of the accident report. “I think it has become a bigger deal than Mr. Cheney and/or the White House anticipated,” the editor said.

That is perhaps the understatement of the day. McClellan endured two of his testiest briefings ever, with NBC’s David Gregory saying at an off-camera morning briefing that the Administration neglected its duty to put out the information and that White House reporters “don’t care if some ranch owner calls a local paper.” McClellan accused Gregory of grandstanding: “Hold on. Cameras aren’t on right now. You can do this later.” That infuriated Gregory. “You don’t have to yell,” McClellan said. Gregory shot back: “I will yell. If you want to use that podium and try to take shots at me personally, which I don’t appreciate, then I will raise my voice, because that’s wrong.” McClellan said: “Calm down, David.”

To make a long story short: these whiny press guys who hate Bush’s guts are looking for something to complain about and they’re also offended that the local press was informed before they were.

You know what would be funny? If Cheney showed up for the next press briefing, wheeled a bunch of quail in behind the reporters, and offered to show them a live reenactment of what happened. Can you just see their faces when Cheney said:

“OK, David Gregory, I need you to move about 30 yards away from me. All right, now move those quail right behind him…what do you mean “is this gun loaded”? Of course, it is and yes, we do have an ambulance standing by. Here, you’ll want these safety goggles….”

I’m kidding, just kidding, you sensitive liberals. Imagine that Dick Cheney hugs Gregory or something after he hands him the safety goggles.

However, I’m not kidding when I say that the White House press corp is obnoxious, self-righteous, and yet largely irrelevant. If the White House did once a month briefings or replaced all the reporters in there with a bunch of friendlies from the new media, it wouldn’t make much of a difference.

*** Update #1 ***: Over at the Corner, one of the best columnists in the business, John Podhoretz — who has seemed overly concerned about this incident — has asked:

“If, during his vice presidency, Al Gore had gone out hunting, had shot someone during the hunt, and had failed to make the incident public for 18 hours, what would conservatives have said and thought? Now be honest when you answer this question. You don’t need to answer me. Just answer yourself.”

What would he think conservatives would say differently than they’ve already said? Most conservatives have criticized Cheney for being careless and made a few jokes. Would it be that different for Gore? Certainly the press wouldn’t be making as big a deal out of it if a Democrat was involved and maybe more of the jokes would be about liberals hating guns, but that’s about it.

This was a dumb screw-up on Cheney’s part, but it’s not really indicative of any larger issue, nor is it a big deal politically. How much else can be said other than “Be more careful the next time you’re out hunting”?

In a week or two, once Whittington is out of the hospital, Cheney will be back in public again, he’ll make a couple of self-depreciating jokes about his bad aim, and no one will care about this other than the same angry, bitter, liberals who hate everything associated with the Bush administration and a few puckish bloggers and columnists who’ll enjoy tossing a hunting joke into their latest scribbling about Cheney. For everyone else, this will have been pitched down the memory hole.

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