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The MSM Campaign Against Cheney

Wednesday, February 15, 2006  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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Headlines:

Los Angeles Times: Hunter Suffers Setback as Criticism of Cheney Grows

The Washington Post: Cheney’s Response A Concern In GOP

The New York Times: Handling of Mishap Creates Strain in the White House

The Boston Globe: Hunter shot by Cheney has a heart attack

The Globe’s story is particularly breathless, saying the “sudden turn” in Harry Whittington’s condition left the White House “stunned” and his “prognosis difficult.”

Washington Post columnist David Ignatius opines that “arrogance of power is on display with the Bush administration,” and astonishingly compares the Veep’s hunting accident to Chappaquiddick and Watergate:

Nobody died at Armstrong Ranch, but this incident reminds me a bit of Sen. Edward Kennedy’s delay in informing Massachusetts authorities about his role in the fatal automobile accident at Chappaquiddick in 1969. That story, and dozens of others about the Kennedy family, illustrates how wealthy, powerful people can behave as if they are above the law. For my generation, the fall of Richard Nixon is the ultimate allegory about how power can corrupt and destroy. It begins not with venality but with a sense of God-given mission.

The MSM is unhinged, a victim of its Bush hatred, which includes of course hatred of Cheney. The idea that failure to tell the White House press corps of a hunting accident for 14 hours is in anyway similar to leaving a woman to die in a submerged car while fleeing the scene or the cover-up of Watergate is just nuts.

And the American people know it.

What the Beltway gang seems not to understand is that most of America is laughing at them, not frowning at the Veep. There isn’t a single fact we haven’t been told, and we don’t much care if the pampered poobahs of the press got a heads up after four or 14 hours.

There isn’t a cover-up, there isn’t an issue, there isn’t even a controversy.

There is, however, a spectacle, and it is another black eye for the MSM.

This episode doesn’t resemble Chappaqquidick. It resembles Rathergate and Eason Jordon’s overreach, episodes where legacy media allowed its massive blind spot to lead it into a collision with the public it seems not to understand is fully informed and mostly contemptuous of its preening and screaming.

David Gregory is playing the new Mary Mapes, and Dana Milbank the new Rather, the former obtusely, stubbornly and breathlessly believing he’s got a story that’s not a story, the latter revealing an animosity towards the White House so deep as to call into question his ability to even pretend to be objective again.

It will be hard for anyone to top Ignatius’ comparison of this hunting accident –which was known to about 20 people within two minutes of its happening, and fully laid out to the public the next day– with Chappaquiddick, but some will try. This is a gift to the Vice President, as the attempted exploitation of his injuring his friend by an angry, vain and partisan MSM is already transparent and already resented by the public that has long understood the deep bias of the talking heads on the tube and which has another exhibit in the long line of case studies of that bias.

I searched the online sites of the four papers above, btw, for any story of Al Gore’s remarks in Saudi Arabia on Sunday in which the once and possibly future candidate for the presidency charged the United States with “terrible abuses” against Arabs in the aftermath of 9/11, and of “indiscriminately round[ing] up” of Arabs who were then held in “unforgivable” conditions.

I could find no articles on the story in the four papers.

The “Cheney cover-up” meme is wholly fabricated while the MSM itself covers for the former vice president’s slander on the country made in front of a foreign audience.

Look at these numbers for total viewers from Mediabistro:

6pm: Hume: 1,448,000 / Dobbs: 745,000 / Abrams: 290,000

7pm: Shep: 1,458,000 / Blitzer: 625,000 / Hardball: 534,000 / Showbiz: 123,000

8pm: O’Reilly: 2,244,000 / Zahn: 647,000 / Countdown: 479,000 / Grace: 529,000 / On The Money: 223,000

9pm: H&C: 1,379,000 / King: 751,000 / Rita: 284,000 / Prime News: 346,000 / Mad Money: 182,000

10pm: Greta: 1,088,000 / Cooper: 594,000 / Scarborough: 293,000 / Grace: 272,000 / Deutsch: 121,000

11pm: O’Reilly repeat: 1,000,000 / Cooper: 373,000 / Situation: 169,000 / Showbiz repeat: 149,000 / On The Money repeat: 59,000

Now add to the FNC audience the huge audience for talk radio, recently described in an Arbitron research report this way:

News/Talk/Information has thehighest average listener ageamong the nation’s top 15formats, yet advertisers covet thevery high incomes and educationlevels among those listeners….

News/Talk/Information
listeners are very likely to be
married, but they’re not as
likely as listeners to other
formats to have children in
the house. They are the most
likely to own their own home,
and about one-third of the
base have reached or
surpassed the traditional
retirement age.
News/Talk/Information
listeners represent
enthusiastic online
users'”they often visit
newspaper, broadcast media
and financial information
sites. They even listen to radio
stations online in large
numbers. Listeners to this
format are more likely to
identify themselves as
Republican than any of the
nation’s other top formats.

Add to the FNC audience and the radio audience the blog audience, and even David Gregory should be able to understand why the public won’t buy his hysteria as legit: Too many news consumers have the facts, and don’t have to depend upon David and Dana and the other anti-Bushbots of the press room for spin.

The Cheney story will not work out the way the MSM wants it too because there is a huge push-back from non-left wing news sources who have already been playing the audio from the press briefings which embarasses the Gregorys of the world.

Will legacy media ever figure this out?

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