Friday, February 17, 2006

Cheney and Britney

So Cheney had it both ways: He yielded to the public obligation to provide an explanation for shooting a man, while at the same time flipping the bird (as it were) to the media.

Now, according to the Hotline, the Cheney vs. Media conflict is escalating:

We hear that major television networks and some print entities are trying to figure out a way to follow the Vice President during his weekend sojourns.

Typically, Cheney is unmolested by the media on weekends. No one, aside from a protestor or two, stakes out the Naval Observatory in DC and his staff keeps his schedule closely held.

The President, by contrast, almost always has a full protective pool of print and television reporters accompanying him -- even when he attends completely private events, such as a fundraising reception at the home of Sen. Maj. Leader Bill Frist last week, or one of his impromptu outings to a favorite Tex-Mex joint in Cleveland Park.

But when Cheney wants to get out of town, he can come and go as he pleases. Major media organizations have tried to keep track of Cheney informally but have had little success. (The last time the media camped out on Mass. Ave was during the '00 recount -- when Gore was in office.)
So the networks are thinking about establishing an informal pool to stake out the Naval Observatory and to exchange, on a limited basis, editorial information to facilitate that pool.

Print outlets will also ramp up their coverage.

This is either harrassment or the plot of a bad sitcom. But these private trips are sometimes newsworthy even when no one gets shot. Cheney is arguably as powerful as the president, yet operates almost completely out of public view. It's a shame that it's come to this. There ought to be some basic understanding between the media and the White House that would allow a basic flow of information. The coverage needn't be intrusive. It helps no one, especially Cheney, when the media resort to paparazzi antics. This is getting into Britney Spears territory. Is a Sean Penn moment that far away?

Meanwhile, a TPM reader raises a good question:

Here's a painfully obvious observation. Untold millions of tax dollars are spent on secret service agents and what-not, and the veep is prancing around the wilds with a bunch of other men of a certain age, all carrying GUNS? Let's assume that there isn't anything particularly different about Mr. Cheney that would cause him to make this kind of mistake, which then means that any of his hunting buddies could have been the one to go oops, and he could have been on the business end of the fire-stick. Boom! What were they thinking?

The Secret Service must be thinking hard about what happened. Between his minders there and the media, Cheney will likely end up paying for the shooting mishap with some of his freedom of movement.