Monday, February 13, 2006

The first scandal of 2006: Quail-gate

I didn't originate the title of the latest whitehouse scandal, I heard it on the Laura Ingraham show tonight. But regardless of who made it up, it does accurately portray the media frenzy in making this a scandal, far out of proportion of its merits.

The media, apparently, righteously appalled that the Whitehouse waited 24 hours to disclose the shooting. The accident happened on the 11th of February, but the story broke on the 12th.

It must be a cover up of course, a deep dark shadowy conspiracy.

So the media is demanding answers about why they delayed, even though I can't figure out where it is written they had to disclose it in the first place.

After all, Cheney was not he one shot, so national security was not an issue was it? And the injuries by all reports are thankfully minor, so that's not an issue either. It seems to boil down to the media just wanting to be able to report it because it happened and they want to.

The police have cleared Cheney of wrong doing, except in not having the right game tag. So this isn't going to approach high crimes and misdemeanors either.

Of course Cheney is presently on the hot seat over accusations that he authorized the Plame information so any news about him is a nice tag line to that accusation.

When the WHitehouse began to field the questions about this, it was not pretty.

(Source: the Washington Post)

McClellan began his midday news conference with a few words about how strong the U.S. economy is. Then he took questions, none of which was about the economy. The majority of the 41-minute briefing was given over to Cheney's hunting accident.

"Scott, do you think that the shooting accident involving the vice president on Saturday should have been disclosed to the public on Saturday?" a reporter asked.

McClellan replied -- as he did to many questions -- that the first priority was to ensure that Whittington was receiving appropriate medical care.

"The vice president spoke with Mrs. Katharine Armstrong," McClellan said, referring to the owner of the ranch where Cheney and Whittington were hunting. "And they agreed that she should make that information public. She was an eyewitness. She saw what occurred. And she called her local paper to provide those facts to the local paper."

Later McClellan was asked, "As press secretary, are you satisfied with the way this was handled?"

"Well," he replied, "I think you can always look back at these issues and look at how to do a better job."

After an indecipherable blur of shouted questions, Gregory's voice rose over those of his competitors.

"Let's just be clear here," Gregory said. "The vice president of the United States accidentally shoots a man, and he feels that it's appropriate for a ranch owner who witnessed this to tell the local Corpus Christi newspaper and not the White House press corps at large or notify the public in a national way?"

"Well, I think we all know that once it is made public, then it's going to be news and all of you are going to be seeking that information," McClellan replied.

Several questions followed, including three variations on "When did the president learn that the vice president had shot someone?"

In the course of the session, reporters made seven references to Cheney having "shot" someone, with four to a "shooting."

And it is interesting to note that with all the serious issues, the shooting took most of the 40 minute briefing. I have to wonder if the press corps has their priorities straight.

The News Media seems to love a good scandal, is all I can figure, so here is Quail-Gate, ready to order. I hope they are happy.

But really, the comedians are the real winners in Quail-Gate. They will have a field day on this for sometime.