Media shoots, misses in Cheney incident

Reporters have launched an attack of hard-hitting questions on the vice president. And no, they aren’t asking about botched intelligence reports or the U.S. plan for rebuilding Iraq. Instead journalists have been asking Dick Cheney about the incident now known as “Quailgate.”

The quail-hunting accident that left 78-year-old lawyer Harry Whittington in the hospital has incited a media frenzy, not to mention created a political liability for the Bush administration to tackle.

The priorities of the U.S. media are downright disappointing. They’ll accuse the vice president of shooting his fellow hunting pal on purpose, but they won’t accuse him of lying about pre-Iraq war weapons of mass destruction information. Conclusion: The hijinks involved with quail hunting is more important than the truth about national security. Simple enough, right?

Reporters need to put these investigative skills to work on stories that really matter. With the growing amount of questionable activity committed by the Bush administration, there are stories out there that demand straight-forward questions that will get the answers that shake things up. The probes by the House of Representatives into the events leading up to the disaster in New Orleans has been pushed to the back burner. The only thing America cares about now is how scandalous it would be if Cheney is an attempted murderer.

The media has lost touch with what news really is. The public can easily be sucked in by a human interest story, but that should not be mistaken for hard news. This country is a goldmine of stories that could really make people think; however, reporters settle for any story with a potentially funny headline.

News outlets even are trying to blame the vice president of attempting to cover up the entire incident because of the one day delay before an announcement to the press. This delay will only cause more problems for the vice president.

The more time that passed between Cheney actually shooting a man and the press finding out about it, the more people will want to place more blame on the vice president. As reporters stand around asking “Why didn’t you tell us?” Americans will be increasingly willing to fall for the conspiracy theory behind the hunting accident.

Additionally, the press office in the White House has never been a fan of the way Cheney runs things, and this will only make it worse. White House press secretary Scott McClellan has been careful to make it known to the world that the way this was handled was Cheney’s idea. According to The New York Times yesterday, McClellan did not agree that this was the proper way to deal with this type of story.

The fact that the vice president of the United States shot a man can make for some cheap-shot jokes, but it shouldn’t result in reporters investigating a cover-up. Through all the jokes by late-night comedians and even Trent Lott (“Shooter in chief” was pretty clever), reporters need to see the difference in real news and comical human interest.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.