Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The FACTS on Cheney and Whittington

Last week, as I was hammering away at the Cheney story, a comment came into PTF asking for the facts as we saw them. Here's the comment that was posted:
As I said to your comment on my blog, give me the facts as your left thinking mind sees them.

The fact is the secret service called the local authorities within an hour and you spin that to mean he was hiding something because they have to setup a time for them to arrive the next morning. Where is the fact in what your spin says?

Another fact; the landowner called the local media and informed them or the incident (simple hunting accident) and just because he didn't schedule a Washington Press Conference is because he didn't have any with him (it was a private hunting party). It wasn't some lurid rendevous that I have heard being suggested by some crazy liberals.

So give me some facts as you think you know them.

We at PTF like to try and accomodate all of our readers, and as such, I will attempt to lay out the facts known in the Cheney-Whittington shooting incident last week:

* It is reported that Secret Service notified local police about the incident within an hour. It is also reported, however, that the police were told by Secret Service not to come to the scene of the incident until the next day. This contradicted local authority, and general police policy;

* Katharine Armstrong told people that there wasn't even a thought about releasing this as a story to anyone on Saturday. It was only on Sunday that she discussed it with the Vice President and decided to call the local media. "I said, 'Mr. Vice President, this is going to be public, and I'm comfortable going to the hometown newspaper,'" she told The Associated Press. "And he said, 'You go ahead and do whatever you are comfortable doing.'"

According to TIME Magazine:
At about 8 a.m. Sunday, a Cheney aide called strategist Mary Matalin, who regularly advises the Vice President. The aide read her a statement about the accident that Cheney had considered releasing before he decided to encourage Armstrong to go to the Caller-Times. But the statement "didn't say much of anything," Matalin says--not even that Cheney was the shooter. Matalin then spoke with a second aide and with Cheney's family and heard different versions of what had happened in the shooting. She decided no statement should be released amid the confusion. Matalin spoke with Cheney, and, she says, they agreed that "a fuller accounting, with an eyewitness," would be preferable.

* While the story was held from any source of media, local or otherwise, the President was told at 8:00PM on Saturday. However, Scott McClellan then reported that he didn't personally know Cheney was the shooter until the next morning, about 6:00AM on Sunday, when he was awakened with the news.

* On Sunday, Texas Parks and Wildlife reported that Cheney was legally hunting with all required licenses and paperwork. The department paperwork reported on Monday, however, that he was missing a game bird stamp. Minor, but a fact nonetheless, and another contradiction.

* Initially, Karen Armstrong reported that "No one was drinking.... No, zero, zippo." The investigating officer later reported that in an interview with Mr. Whittington, the 78-year old man "explained foremost there was no alcohol during the hunt." When Cheney finally came forward in an interivew on Wednesday, he stated ""I had a beer at lunch."

* In the reports about Whittington's condition on Sunday, Karen Armstrong reported that "He was talking. His eyes were open." Cheney stated in his interview fith Fox News that Whittington was not responsive when he rushed over to him. It wasn't until later that Armstrong reported that she was about 100 yards away from the incident, and when she saw Secret Service running toward the President, she initially believed that the Vice President had suffered a heart-related problem.

These are all FACTS. No opinion inserted. No "spin." I am listing simply what was reported by the involved parties. No insinuation of anyone being drunk. No wild stories about affairs with women other than their spouses. No mention here of a vast conspiracy.

Here's my question - and I send it out once again to all of the Vice Presidential Cheerleaders who support with a blind faith that is sometimes staggering to imagine. Given THESE facts, aren't there enough contradictions that the media, in seeing the contradictions, SHOULD HAVE followed up on the events of the day. Isn't it quite possible that the Vice President could have indeed killed his hunting partner? Yes, we're all thankful that he didn't, but given that as a possibility, isn't it their responsibility to look into the events as they unfolded?

And if it is, couldn't the Vice President and the Bush Administration have quieted this story MUCH sooner, had they simply come forward and answered questions in a straight-forward manner? And sooner than Wednesday?

Beyond all the "factual contradictions" of the story, my argument is simply that the management of this very small incident is emblematic of a MUCH larger problem with the Bush Administration in how they deal with the press, with those who oppose them, and with the American people in general. Forget policy and partisan gripes for a moment, and simply focus on the mechanics of how they "Press The Flesh" - how they get their message out to the American people.

Can't you admit that they botched it in this case?

Just like they've botched their message on Social Security? Whether you love or hate the policy, you HAVE to admit that the President's message out on his "Social Security tour" did NOTHING to generate support for the policy.

Or how they botched the message related to the ongoing battle of insurgency in Iraq? Again, support the war or demand it's end right this moment - you've got to know that the Bush Administration has floundered in maintaining the support of the American public for the war.

Or how they've botched their message even recently with regard to Homeland Security - can you say Dubai and our national ports, anyone?

Without the ability to find your own weaknesses, you allow your enemy to point them out instead, and take advantage of them before you can. This is not to say that the ineffective and impotent Democrats currently leading the Democratic party will be able to take advantage of it - 2004 is more than enough proof of that. But I do believe that a new breed of Democrats is on the horizon, and that they WILL make the change in 2006 and 2008.

Posted by FleshPresser at 1:18 PM /


  • Blogger Jon posted at 7:18 PM  
    Thank you for giving the facts as you know then and interjecting the ridiculous contradictions you kept adding.

    Now that you stated the facts as you know them and all I can say, NON STORY. All of the minor issues you brought up don't amount to a hill of beans.

    So nice try and I hope next time something comes to light it might actually be a story. It is obvious that the local authorities weren''t overly concerned like you seemed to be abotu this non issue.

    Again thanks for giving the actual facts and not giving innuendo and speculation like many of the Anti-Bush peopole have been writing.

  • Blogger FleshPresser posted at 3:17 PM  
    Jon -

    With all due respect, the "ridiculous contradictions" pointed out are not ridiculous at all.

    I will agree with you, as I have all along, that the event itself is a non-story. THAT'S NOT THE POINT. What I have said all along is that the MANAGEMENT of the story is THE story.

    The simple FACT is that all of these people answered different things - Armstrong says no booze. Whittington says no booze. Then Cheney says "oops... yeah.. booze."

    Armstrong is snet out as the official "eyewitness" and then admits that she was over 100 yards away from the event as it took place, and initially thought it was the Vice President who went down.

    THIS is the part of the story that's important - mismanagement of a small, insignificant event such as this makes one wonder how the BIG, IMPORTANT events that shape your life and mine are actually managed.

    If you can't see that simple, simple point, then you're simply wearing blinders. But I won't give up hope for you. :)

  • Blogger Jon posted at 10:40 PM  
    The fact that the story is a non story is the important thing and the management of the story as you called is all nothing but a waste of time and is exactly where the conspiracy theories are born.

  • Blogger FleshPresser posted at 11:02 PM  
    Looks like we'll have to agree to disagree, then.

    I agree that conspiracy theories can be born out of tearing the story apart too much, but at the same time, if the Republicans don't learn a lesson from this (as well as from the "sale of Ports to Dubai story" still going on - a bit MORE important, wouldn't you agree?) then this Administration is going to be more and more of a Lame Duck as we limp toward 2008.

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