Thursday, February 16, 2006

Cheney's Response Snubs MSM

Dick Cheney's interview with Fox News's Brit Hume was just what he needed it to be. He came across as someone trying to hide emotions of embarrassment and pain after having shot a friend in a hunting accident. And regardless of his friend's improving health, he appeared shaken, calling the event the worst day of his life.

He also made the observation that the media noise being made about the event was mainly about the media themselves, not Cheney, Whittington or the shooting.

But most interesting was the choice to give the story to a local newspaper, and not to the national media. The rationale offered was that the national media wouldn't get the hunting aspect of the story, mainly because they have no idea how guns or hunting work, and probably that the MSM could not be trusted to do anything more than turn it into yet another gun control or anti Cheney/Administration story. And rather than state that it could have been handled better, Cheney indicated that he made the choice he did, and would do so again. A series of very significant thumbs of the nose at the media-left.

But the choice of Fox News was equally troubling to them. I heard on the radio that Brit Hume was asked as he got to the White House by other reporters whether he/Fox was chosen because Fox is a conservative news outlet. His equally vexing response was that the Administration probably chose Fox because they wanted to have the interview aired by the cable news outlet with the biggest audience. Smack!

The question remains how the now again-snubbed White House press corps, the "other guys", will behave today and tomorrow. Certainly Cheney's interview gave them in word--but not in substance--what they had been demanding, but it was all he had to do from the public's perspective, presuming he had to do anything at all. It also gives the press a break--an opportunity to stand down and shut up, and for this weeks behavior to be largely forgotten. But if they don't resist the temptation to continue to push the story for their own ends, it will create the same problems for them which we saw early in the week, with the correspondents' ego-driven frustration and unprofessional behavior becoming more of the news than the story itself.

Because when the story becomes about the reporter, it's almost never a good thing. It causes the public to question the fairness and seriousness of the people who report the news, which has become a very easily understood and troubling issue in recent years.

The White House knows this, and through the increasingly popular outlet of Fox News, laid a very clever trap for other members of the press corps.

The question is whether the cheese smells better to the rat than the risk of springing the trap.

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