Friday, February 17, 2006

I must disagree with National Review over Cheney's press relations

For some reason, even conservatives are parroting the thought that Cheney should have immediately contacted the media after 5:30 p.m. (when his shooting accident happened) rather than at 11:00 a.m. the next morning, when the ranch owner contacted the local press. I think Cheney was a little busy in the immediate aftermath of the shooting so let's asusme that at around, say, 7:30 p.m. things calmed down (i.e., the medical condition of Mr. Whittington was stable and known to be so). What to do?

Eat dinner, have a cocktail, go to sleep, call the media in the morning. This wasn't life or death nor was the Veep himself injured. The story is interesting, but there was absolutely no urgency to its publication, except to the media-obsessed media who think the world revolves around them.

So why does National Review's Window on the Week say this:

"Nonetheless, the vice president also probably erred in not reporting the information sooner. His actions are defensible and, on the merits, sound. But the vice president is also a politician, and politicians — particularly conservative ones — should understand that an unfair media climate comes with the territory, and that ignoring this reality on principle often creates even bigger problems."

Does the existence of a hostile, irrational, partisan media mean that the Veep should cow-tow to them? I have yet to hear any rational argument that the public needed to know about this accident sooner than they did. That is the only legitimate basis to criticise Cheney for not reporting the accident sooner.

The only way Cheney could have made a "mistake" is in the pure, crass political calculation sense. But it wasn't. If the unfounded speculation (e.g. Cheney was drunk) was bad with the, well I won't say "delay" because there was no delay, imagine how bad the unfounded speculation would have been if the accident was reported earlier. Cheney killed a man! No wait, he seriously wounded a man, probably an illegal alien - oops, undocumented guest worker - trying to cross the border! Man Cheney shot clings to life, death could come at any moment! Etc.

Cheney did not make a mistake, objectively or politically, in notifying the press when and how he did. Cheney's only mistake, politically and objectively, was the shooting itself. National Review should know better. Perhaps because they are also in the media biz, they are blinded by this obvious reality.


Blogger Publius said...

I agree, Ben, that Cheney not reporting the incident right away in and of itself is not a big deal. Nobody was truly impacted by the fact that the story came out midday Sunday rather than Saturday night.

However, there is an interesting aspect to this story. Why was Cheney allowed to wait until the next day to speak with local law enforcement? Would a regular citizen be afforded that same opportunity? I would guess not.

The significance of this story is not the delay in speaking with the national media, it is in the delay in speaking with law enforcement.

What do you think?

2:57 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

I agree, but I believe that Cheney did in fact speak with local law enforcement (or, at least, a former sheriff that the current sheriff knew well) on Saturday shortly after the incident. See the Wizbang! post here:

12:45 PM  

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