Saturday, February 18, 2006

The overblown fuss over Cheney's hunting accident

I defer to no one in my dislike of Dick Cheney. As the most influential vice-president in our history, he was a leading architect of our disastrous Iraq invasion. Who can forget his nonsensical arguments linking 9/11 to Saddam, his prediction about how U.S. troops would be welcomed as liberators, and his glowing claims of our "progress" in Iraq?

Beyond Iraq, his secretive dealings with the oil industry, his disdain for the genuine interests of working-class voters, and his long record as a right-wing extremist mark him as the kind of politician who is unsuited for national leadership. Moreover, his macho war-hawk image seems to clash with his background as a Vietnam draft-dodger.

Having said all this, I contend that the fuss over how and when the news of Cheney's accidental shooting of a hunting companion was revealed has been overblown. I am retiree who had a 40-year career as a journalist. But I regard the controversy over how and when Cheney's hunting/shooting episode was disclosed to the public as a synthetic crisis produced by the media. They suffer from an occupational obsession about being first with the news, even when the news, as in this case, really is not all that vital, considering the serious state of current domestic and foreign affairs.

Sure, it is important to know that our Vice-President accidentally shot a hunting companion. But did it really matter whether we learned this on Saturday, when the accident actually happened, or the next day or two?

In particular, I blame the cable news channels that are saddled with the responsibility of filling air time all day and night, even when there is no legitimate news to report. I point to MSNBC's Chris Matthews, who I normally admire as one of TV's most skilled interviewers, as one of the most blatant promoters of this so-called crisis.

I confess that my sour view of the Cheney episode probably reflects, in part, my disinterest in hunting as a sport. As a boy raised in the Bronx's city streets, I never touched a gun until I was in the Army at 18. Nor have I touched a firearm during the 60 years since my military service.

Nevertheless, I do take pride in having qualified as a marksman, firing an M-1 Garand rifle during infantry training. I subsequently became equally skilled with a Thompson sub-machine gun, my authorized weapon when I was subsequently assigned to the Signal Corps.

Meaning no disrespect for ardent hunters, I must also confess that, as a city boy, I do not grasp the joy one experiences shooting harmless birds in the air. For me, the idea of a sport means hitting a baseball, smacking a tennis or golf ball, throwing and catching a football, or otherwise competing on a field where the opponent is a fellow human being.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is considerable truth in some of what you say about the manner in which the media has handled not only this incident, but much of what constitutes "news" today.

However, I was trained in the safe use of the most basic of guns by my father while in high school. Frankly, I am left wondering if there was more than a bit of carelessness here, including by the shooter, despite the good ole boys all coming to each other's defense.

I also dislike the fact that a normal police investigation, by those in whose jurisdiction the accident took place, did not occur until the following day, though I know the Secret Service was present. Local authorities were probably relieved, as had there been some extenuating circumstances, no doubt they would have had little freedom to accurately report them.

As far as I'm concerned, this failure to treat the accident in a manner as would be done with any other citizen of this country illustrates an "above the law" or "priviledged personage" attitude, not to mention undue secretiveness, that permeates this administration. They have done little or nothing to warrant my trust and confidence since they took office.

Sunday, February 19, 2006 3:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hear, hear. The waste of time this week when there is so much more important stuff to report makes me nuts. And I wish reporters would use such wasted time instead, to dig deeper and further into stories they report too superficially.

Sunday, February 19, 2006 7:37:00 AM  
Blogger Norma said...

I agree it was a media event. Journalists in the east coast press seem insulted they weren't consulted. And I agree with you about not see the joy in shooting little birds.

But like many on the left of center, you have difficulty believing anything in this administration could be of George Bush.

Rush Limbaugh ranted for 3 hours a day about how the press was overdoing the Cheney story! He did have one good point: keep all financial reports from the gov't top secret, then leak them to the press. That way the good news will get to the front page.

And shooting incident was reported to the local authorities, as it came out later. The county, however, only has about 400 residents, so I'm sure that doesn't please big city folks.

Monday, February 20, 2006 5:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, the shooting incident was reported to local authorities, but they decided(?) not to investigate until the next day. I don't recall hearing of other accidents, especially where a shooting is involved, postponed in such a manner. So much for timely delivery of services to rule out extenuating circumstances. Wonder how many other shootings they had to investigate that day in the county of 400 residents? I can't speak to whether or not big city folks would be pleased or not since I don't live in one.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006 1:02:00 AM  

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