Thursday, February 16, 2006

# Posted 12:21 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

THE MOST IMPORTANT NON-STORY OF THE YEAR: At first I tried to block out all the irrelevant news about Cheney's hunting accident, but now I've decided that what we really have on our hands is a fascinating case study in the manufacturing of American scandals.

I'm assuming, of course, that none of the more interesting conspiracy theories out there turns out to be true. A safe bet, I think.

Now, it's often said that politicians get punished far more often and more severely for their cover-ups than for their crimes. What better illustration of this principle than the punishment that the administration is now taking for delaying the release of information that apparently incriminates no one?

Frankly, I'm sort of amazed at how bitter the relationship between the administration and the press has become as a result of this non-issue. Consider, for example, this exchange at yesterday's White House press briefing:
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that I've expressed my views, and we went through this yesterday.

Q But that's a non-answer...

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, but can I finish responding? I'm glad to answer your questions.

Q You didn't answer that question. It was very respectful --

MR. McCLELLAN: I was very respectful and responsive to you all --

Q The Vice President basically decided on his own to not disclose this, which is at odds with how you do business and how the President does business, right?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't want to make this about anything other than what it is. It is what it is, David. I was very respectful and responsive to your questions yesterday. I provided you the information I knew based on the facts that were available, and we've been through this pretty thoroughly.

Q You don't have an answer to this question. All right, one final question.

MR. McCLELLAN: Wait, wait, I'm just not going to go back through it again. I'd appreciate it if you'd let me respond fully before you jump in.

Q All right, but -- well, hold on one second. I've got one final question.

MR. McCLELLAN: Other people in this room have questions, and we've got an event coming up.

Q I understand that, but I'm not getting answers here, Scott, and I'm trying to be forthright with you, but don't tell me that you're giving us complete answers when you're not actually answering the question, because everybody knows what is an answer and what is not an answer.
If you get a chance to listen to this exchange instead of just reading it, the tone of the voices conveys quite effectively just how bitter it was. In fact, it was bitter enough to get replayed on Tuesday's Nightly News, with a commentary from Brian Williams about how unusual such bitterness is. (Of course, it was NBC's David Gregory who was arguing with McClellan.)

I think an important part of what's going on here is that Dick Cheney -- and not George Bush -- is at the heart of this controversy. Last night on Hardball, the WaPo's Jim VandeHei agreed with Chris Matthews that the President himself would never be so resistant to media coverage. Then VandeHei said that
[Cheney's] never going to come out publicly and talk about this. In your clip before, you‘ve shown, he shows he has absolute disdain for the media, particularly the national media, he doesn‘t give a hill of beans what you and I think about him, so he‘s going to handle this the way he wants to handle it.
In other words, this is a grudge match that has very little to do with the actual situation at hand.

My final comment is this. Some people may think that this whole episode demonstrates that the media has it in for Republicans. Not by a longshot.

Rather, it demonstrates how profoundly journalists resent being kept away from the story, regardless of what it is. The Clinton administration didn't understand this either and was punished severely. It just happens to be the Republicans' turn now because they're in the White House.
(17) opinions -- Add your opinion

It's hardly a conspiracy theory to try to think of a good reason why Cheney delayed talking to local law enforcement for 12 hours after the incident. (Yes, law enforcement, not the press. His delay in talking to the press is hardly unusual. In fact Cheney's SOP is usually to refuse to talk to the press at all.)

The accident happened around 6PM Saturday night, and he didn't talk to the local Sheriff's deputies until Sunday morning. Why? It's not like he had urgent work to do, otherwise he wouldn't have been hunting at all. And McClellan's explanation (that Cheney was busy making sure the victim got medical attention) doesn't pass the giggle test. Are we really to believe that Cheney was administering CPR himself? That no one else could help?

I can only think of one reason for the delay: Cheney needed to sober up. No other explanation fits the evidence. And it is worth noting that he has two DUI's on his record from his younger days.
Ridiculous and FALSE comment anonymous. The secret service was already on the scene when the accident occurred. The sherrif's department and the medical personal arrived on the scene shortly after the accident. Cheney spoke with the police at the scene immediately upon their arrival. What occurred the next day was a FORMAL STATEMENT given to police. In fact, the police had asked Cheney to give them the statement at 10 am the next morning. Cheney then asked to move it forward two hours to 8 am. Your assertion that he didn't talk to the sherrif's department until Sunday morning is patently false, either because you are uninformed or willfully lieing. He spoke to them shortly after the accident and gave a FORMAL STATEMENT the next day. That is actually a rather quick response, as people involved in accidents of this nature usually refuse to give FORMAL STATEMENTS or wait a considerable time before doing so. At least try to include facts instead of lies when you are trying to spin.
maxxjd, here's the timeline:


Cheney did not speak to any law enforcement until 9AM Sunday, almost 15 hours after the accident.
If the link above doesn't work, go to forbes.com and search "timeline cheney hunting".
Anonymous, you really should just admit your bias, and stop before your lies go from ridiculous to absurd. Try reading the official police reports regarding the investigation, which state specifically that Constable Medellin, the former sheriff of the county spoke with the hunting party immediately after the accident (including Cheney). Further, the secret service contacted the sheriff's office immediately thereafter. One final point, along with your lies, you try to spin the fact that Cheney did not give an official statement for 12 hours into some kind of sinister attempt by Cheney to "delay talking to local law enforcement." This erroneous attempt to obfuscate and make it look like Cheney was not cooperating is deceitful at best. Cheney did not delay speaking with the police or refuse in any way. The sheriff stated specifically that he did not request an immediate interview but decided on his own to schedule an interview the next day, whcih Cheney then requested to move to an earlier time. Your attempt to change what actually happened into some kind of shady delay on the part of Cheney is pathetic, deceitful, and unambiguously false.
Here is the Kennedy County Sheriff's Report of the incident:


(It's only five pages and doesn't take long to read.)

It states that the investigating officer, Chief Deputy Giberto San Miguel Jr., met with Cheney for the first time on Sunday morning a little after 8AM.

The report states that Constable Ramiro Medellin spoke "with some of the people in the hunting party" a short time after the accident occured. It does not state that he spoke with Cheney.

Everyone in this situation agrees that the shooting was an accident. The only question is whether it was a drunken accident like Chappaquidick. The "drunk premise" does fit the evidence. And I repeat, Cheney has had problems with alcohol before.
So what you're saying anon. is that even though everyone else there, including the victim, said there was no alcohol involved except for a single beer 4-5 hours before the incident, that Cheney, what? was running back to the pickup truck all day long and swigging Wild Turkey?

Or maybe you just mean to say that Cheney actually had a six-pack at lunch (since the running to the pickup truck may be too far fetched for even you). Let's see, Cheney looks to be about 200 pounds or so, so even if he did drink a six-pack at lunch, he'd still have been sober by the time of the incident.

Hey, maybe he was snorting coke? Yea, that's the ticket...

Amazing at what conspiracy theories those bereft of logic will dream up.
It's pretty clear ya'll aren't hunters. I know quite a few fellow sportsmen who will take a flask with them on their hunts. It's a terrible idea, but it's not uncommon (I don't hunt personally with such folks). No need to "run back to the pick-up" (who is making up stories now)? Besdies, the other witnesses-- as pals, political allies, and donors to the vice president, are hardly objective. The idea that they would have spent a few hours getting their stories straight that evening isn't out of the ballpark of possibilities, but it is unfounded.

At any rate, I doubt that is actually what happened, precisely because we don't yet have any evidence to contradict the Veep's account of events. Until then, these are indeed all conspiracy theories.

Finally, David, you're full of it. The press has a legitimate interest in covering this story because the circumstances surrounding it were so extraordinary. The tension that resulted from the botched release to the press is just what's keeping it above the fold for now. Do you really mind it being there though? You shoot someone-- even if it's accidental-- and it doesn't just go away. That's part of the risk hunters assume when they utilize their legal right to bear arms for sport.
Pembrokian: In case it wasn't clear (I'm the anon. with the pickup truck scenario) I was being facetious and mocking anon. 1's take on it.
"The press has a legitimate interest in covering this story because the circumstances surrounding it were so extraordinary."
no one said the press didnt have a legitimate interest in covering the story, but I have yet to see any extraodinary circumstances.

"The tension that resulted from the botched release to the press is just what's keeping it above the fold for now."
Botched? I dont see that. They may not like it that it was initially released to a local outlet. They may not like it that he went on Fox. So what?

"You shoot someone-- even if it's accidental-- and it doesn't just go away. "
Yep, but one would like it if they stuck to the facts rather than making them up.
Extraordinary circumstances-- the vice president shoots someone for the first time since 1804.

Botched release to the press-- Any time the president or vice president is involved in such a major incident, the national press should be notified by Communications at the White House immediately-- not because it hurts their feelings to not be informed, but because it is in the public's interest to have the full information from an official source as soon as possible. Having Anne Armstrong's daughter release the information through a friend at the local newspaper betrays a level of contempt for the public that is unacceptable for the Vice President of the United States.

Facts/Making it up-- Agree.
" Having Anne Armstrong's daughter release the information through a friend at the local newspaper betrays a level of contempt for the public that is unacceptable for the Vice President of the United States."

Why does the national press= the public? How does giving this part of the press the finger show contempt towards me, who in his own small, small way is surely a part of the public? Cheney demonstrated a (calculated (?)) contempt for the national press, especially the wire services and the White House press, to this I wholeheartedly agree. And given their record this is something I fully applaud. Support. Enjoy. Viva la small town newspaper. Viva the annointed press sturm and drang as the flow of information starts at the bottom of the rung and moves it way up. More conspiracy theories!! More elites in a lather!! Delicious.

Anyway, as I am one member of the so-called "public", a voting member too, who feels anything but having been betrayed or thought contemptable, "the public" is one less person and thus not whole, not a "the". Whether we are the greater or lesser part of the public I don't know, but I am confident "we" are not an unsubstantial part.
Good to see we've run away from the subject of bitter relations between the administration and the press into a debate about the incident itself. But even reading the partisans here, I'm getting better information than I've seen in most of the MSM reports. I followed anonymous' link (a different one, not me), and now know the allegation that this was not immediately reported to law enforcement is false. I find it interesting that the Forbes timeline is wildly at odds with the police report wiht respect toinitial notification. Perhaps they're unaware that some parts of the planet are not in the eastern time zone...

As to the issue in the post, this whole episode is a tantrum by people starting to realize they're irrelevant. I don't need "news analysis" from some talking head when I can read the police report myself.

Most of the reports I hear on TV about areas I have some expertise in suffer from an almost comical level of ignorance about the issue being discussed, and I have to assume that ignorance extends to areas I don't know much about, so why should I believe anything these idiots have to say?

"Cheney demonstrated a (calculated (?)) contempt for the national press, especially the wire services and the White House press, to this I wholeheartedly agree. And given their record this is something I fully applaud. Support. Enjoy."

Yes. It was rare entertainment. Clueless reporters from the Upper West Side and Hay-Adams talking knowingly about hunting. David Gregory pretending that he's not looking in a mirror. Dana Milbank in a clown suit. Breathless hopes that Vice-President Cheney's friend somehow might die of a heart attack. Pompous malevolence that's inadvertently comic is very entertaining.

"...so why should I believe anything these idiots have to say?"

A rhetorical question. surely.
Showing a calculated contempt for the press? That sounds right. Any intelligent person would do exactly that. Press people are compleat morons, full of themselves, but clearly with nothing important to do. Manufacturing news is all they know.

Journalism school is for imbeciles. Obviously it all goes downhill from there.
Glad to see a healthy debate. And just for the record, I don't think journalists are morons. Just very intelligent people whose blinders ensure that they see things rather differently from those outside the profession.
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