Monday, February 13, 2006

18 Hour delay In Reporting Cheney Shooting

Nixon had his 18 and a half minute tape gap, Cheney has his 18 hour delay in reporing he shot a man:

More Questions Raised About Delay in Reporting Cheney Misfire

By Greg Mitchell

Published: February 12, 2006 10:20 PM ET

NEW YORK The more than 18-hour delay in news emerging that the Vice President of the United States had shot a man, sending him to an intensive care unit with his wounds, grew even more curious late Sunday. E&P has learned that the official confirmation of the shooting came about only after a local reporter in Corpus Christi, Texas, received a tip from the owner of the property where the shooting occured and called Vice President Cheney's office for confirmation.

The confirmation was made but there was no indication whether the Vice President's office, the White House, or anyone else intended to announce the shooting if the reporter, Jaime Powell of the Corpus Christ Caller-Times, had not received word from the ranch owner.


While E&P was first to raise the question about the delay Sunday afternoon, Frank James, reporter in the Chicago Tribune's Washington bureau, put his how spin on it later in the day, asking, "How is it that Vice President Cheney can shoot a man, albeit accidentally, on Saturday during a hunting trip and the American public not be informed of it until today?"

Indeed, others raised questions as well. "There was no immediate reason given as to why the incident wasn't reported until Sunday," The Dallas Morning News observed. "The sheriff's office in Kenedy County did not respond to phone calls Sunday."

The president, who was at the White House over the weekend, was informed about the incident in Texas after it happened Saturday by Chief of Staff Andrew Card and Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and was updated on Sunday, press secretary Scott McClellan said.

But neither the White House nor the vice president's staff announced the shooting. The Washington Post reported late Sunday that Cheney's office did not make a public announcement.

Asked by The New York Times why it did not make the news known, Cheney spokeswoman McBride said, "We deferred to the Armstrongs regarding what had taken place at their ranch."

In an odd disparity, Armstrong told the Houston Chronicle that Whittington, 78, was "bruised more than bloodied" in the incident and "his pride was hurt more than anything else." Yet he was airlifted to a hospital and has spent more than a day in an intensive care unit.

The Chronicle also reports Monday that hunting accidents are amazingly rare in Texas. In 2004, it said, the state's 1 million-plus hunters were involved in only 29 hunting-related accidents (19 involving firearms), four of which were fatal.

The delay in announcing the shooting "will likely be the main question asked of the White House about the apparent accidental shooting of a 78-year-old man during a Texas hunting trip by the vice president," the Tribune's James wrote on the Washington bureau's blog at the newspaper's site.

"When a vice president of the U.S. shoots a man under any circumstance," James noted, "that is extremely relevant information. What might be the excuse to justify not immediately making the incident public?

"The vice president is well-known for preferring to operate in secret....Some secrecy, especially when it comes to the executing the duties of president or vice president, is understandable and expected by Americans.

"But when the vice president's office, or the White House, delays in reporting a shooting like Saturday's to the public via the media, it needlessly raises suspicions and questions of trust. And it may just further the impression held by many, rightly or wrongly, that the White House doesn't place the highest premium on keeping the public fully and immediately informed."

Could be a couple of reasons why Cheney's office waited 18 hours to report that Cheney shot a man.

First, as the E&P article makes clear, Cheney is so used to working in the shadows that no matter what happens, he reflexively keeps it secret.

That's one theory and it's a good one.

But I prefer the second theory, which is that Cheney's office wanted to wait until the man, Harry Whittington, was stabilized and out of trouble before alerting the press.

Would have been a different story if the press reported that Cheney shot and killed a man, right?

Which therefore begs the question, if Cheney had killed the guy, would we have learned about the unfortunate incident at all?

Or would people from Cheney's office simply have buried the man's body deep in the woods and said "Harry Whittington? Harry Whittington who?"

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