February 20, 2006
What if Dick Cheney Hadn't Stiffed the Press?By Herbert E. Meyer
For more than a week now, the press has been beating up on Vice President Dick Cheney for his handling — or, rather, for his mis—handling — of how the accidental shooting of his friend while on a hunting trip in Texas was disclosed. The theme that runs through all this criticism is that the Vice President made a terrible mistake in not arranging for news of the shooting to be disclosed immediately, rather than waiting 14 hours to put out the word.
But what if Dick Cheney hadn't stiffed the press? Let's conduct what scientists call a 'thought experiment.' Let's press the rewind button and go back to the very moment of the accidental shooting....
Cheney spots a quail, pulls the trigger —— and to his horror Harry Whittington falls to the ground. Without a moment's hesitation the Vice President reaches into his pocket, pulls out his cell phone, and calls NBC News White House Correspondent David Gregory.
Gregory? This is Cheney. I'm hunting in Texas and I've just accidentally shot my friend.
Thirty seconds ago, maybe forty. Took a while to find your number.
Is he dead or alive?
Don't know. But I thought I better call you to get the word out fast.
While this conversation is taking place, another conversation is taking place on television:
Welcome to Hardball, I'm Chris Matthews. According to a new MSNBC poll, the Bush Administration is now the most hated and distrusted Administration in our country's history. The question is, why. My guests today have two very different perspectives on all this. Nancy Pelosi is the House Democratic leader, and Katrina Vanden Heuvel is the highly—respected editor of the non—partisan magazine, The Nation. It's a pleasure to have you ladies on the show today. I must say, both of you are not only brainy, but gorgeous — I mean, really hot. I wonder why it is that Democrats aren't afraid of smart, good—looking women. I was just talking with my kid brother in Philadelphia — did I mention he's just been nominated for Lieutenant Governor — and he was saying.....Wait a minute. We've got breaking news from David Gregory. David, you're on the air.
Chris, the Vice President has just shot his friend in Texas. Right now, that's all we know, but —
My god, David, you really are a great reporter. What a scoop. You're amazing. What you're saying is that Cheney's first thought was the public—relations, that all he really cares about is getting out first with the news so that he can control the spin.
That's right, Chris. As you know, that's the one thing this White House really does well. Frankly, I was astonished by my conversation with the Vice President. I got the impression he cared more about getting out the word than about his friend's life.
Well, remember David, Cheney used to run Halliburton and in the corporate world life is cheap. I just can't get over the way this Bush Administration gave all those fat contracts in Iraq to their friends in the business community. Congresswoman Pelosi, what's your take on this? By the way, it really is an honor to have you on the show. You're great, the way you cut through all the spin and —
Thank you, Chris. It seems to me that —
No, really, it's people like you that make politics a respected profession. We're just about out of time and —
——there's a lot to this story we just don't know. Right now we only have the Vice President's word that the shooting just happened and —
I want to bring Katrina into this. Katrina — by the way, that leather jacket is just stunning — what's your take on this? We're just about out of time and —
This is just so typical of this gun—loving Bush crowd. They have no regard whatsoever for human life. Why would anyone be surprised that Cheney shot someone? We're killing people in Iraq every day, and this Administration has tried to jail photographers who've tried to take pictures of dead —
Katrina, you're great. Just fantastic. That's it for today's edition of Hardball. I'm Chris Matthews, and we'll be back tomorrow with more about this new scandal involving the Bush Administration's latest maneuver to manipulate public opinion about the war.
Now, let's fast—forward to the 5PM editors' meeting at The New York Times, where key decisions are made about the next day's edition.... On second thought, let's not. You get the point: The mainstream press hates the Bush Administration generally, and the Vice President in particular. Its only objective is to discredit the Bush Administration, and by doing so to increase the chances of a Democratic victory in the upcoming 2006 elections and, of course, in the 2008 Presidential election. So rather than cover the news, they manufacture one 'scandal' after another.
Simply put, the mainstream press was looking for an excuse to stick it to Dick Cheney, and they found one. The only thing we can be sure of is that it won't be long before another senior member of the Bush Administration becomes the victim of a manufactured 'scandal' — and then another, and another.....
Herbert E. Meyer served during the Reagan Administration as Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence and Vice Chairman of the CIA's National Intelligence Council. His DVD on The Siege of Western Civilization has become an international best—seller. In his own one and only appearance on Hardball, Herb was not described by Chris Matthews as either brainy or gorgeous. Herb would have settled — happily —— for one of the two.