February 14, 2006


After Cheney's Shooting Incident, Time to Unload (Mark Leibovich, 2/14/06, Washington Post)

[...] As neither President Bush nor Cheney spoke publicly about the accident yesterday, it fell to White House spokesman Scott McClellan to suffer the media equivalent of birdshot. He was pressed repeatedly on why it took a day for the administration to acknowledge that the vice president had accidentally shot a man.

The most heated public moment occurred during McClellan's off-camera "gaggle" with White House reporters yesterday morning. It featured NBC's David Gregory, one of McClellan's most persistent inquisitors over the last year, who raised his voice while asking a question about the incident.

"Hold on," McClellan interrupted, pointing out that "the cameras aren't on right now. You can do this later."

"Don't accuse me of trying to pose to the cameras," Gregory replied. "Don't be a jerk to me personally when I'm asking you a serious question."

"You don't have to yell," McClellan said.

"I will yell," said Gregory, jabbing his finger in McClellan's direction. "If you want to use that podium to try to take shots at me personally, which I don't appreciate, then I will raise my voice, because that's wrong." [...]

One reporter, apparently stoked by confusion between her wildest fantasies and political reality, actually asked McClellan if the vice president would resign over this.

Posted by Matt Murphy at February 14, 2006 1:54 AM

Incidentally, I've just checked the latest stats, and nothing has changed:

Ted Kennedy: 1
Dick Cheney: 0

Posted by: Matt Murphy at February 14, 2006 2:49 AM

And I'm told that a reporter on MSNBC referred to "an incident the White House alleges was a hunting accident..."

Posted by: Matt Murphy at February 14, 2006 2:57 AM

And what is more, one reporter asked if there would be "federal" charges.

Posted by: jd watson [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 14, 2006 3:59 AM

When are they going to put someone at the podium that can dispose of these fools? One might think the reporters do that fine by themselves, but really assisted suicide is much more satisfying.

Posted by: RC at February 14, 2006 5:52 AM

As satisfying as it would to have someone up there who would destroy these idiots, it's not good politics. Let the reporters look shrill and agressive as they harass a poor press secretary 'just trying to do his job'.

The Whitehouse cannot afford to look like a smartass or smug or dismissive of public scrutiny. McClellan's job is to hand them rope, not get down in the mud with them.

Posted by: Amos at February 14, 2006 5:59 AM

RC - my heart agrees with you but my head agrees with Amos. There's that old political saying tha when your opponent is destroying himself stay back - the press have become such a laughingtock after Wilson/Plame, Katrina, etc. that this just adds to the evidence.

Posted by: AWW at February 14, 2006 8:17 AM

Yes, but so much of politics is not about what you should have to do, but what is effective. It doesn't matter how these press conferences play to us, it plays differently to others. There's a reason making fun of people can be one of the cruelest things, and it's not because it's undignified. Brian Lamb once remarked that his irate callers are not upset that they're getting fooled, they're upset that the other guy is....well, it's true. Maybe I need this for my blood pressure?

In any event, talking them down doesn't mean he has to fight dirty. Remember how happy we were when Bush started pushing his agenda and challenging his critics after long pause?

Posted by: RC at February 14, 2006 8:39 AM

Re: Criminal charges.

Guns are sui generis. They are supposed to be dangerous. They would be defective if they were not dangerous.

Logically, conscious disregard of the known danger of departing from safe hunting and gun handling procedures would be per se recklessly endangering another person. Likewise recklessness or even simple negligence in the use of a deadly weapon may satisfy the intent requirement for some assault crimes.

In practice, hunting accidents are very rarely criminally prosecuted. Too rarely, in the opinion of one involved with the discipline of arms.

Posted by: Lou Gots at February 14, 2006 9:10 AM

It is ok to let the press have the opportunity to make fools of themselves. But, McClellan can't even handle this well. He is the worst press secretary since Ron Ziegler.

Posted by: Bob at February 14, 2006 9:42 AM


We might prefer Ann Coulter or Mark Levin (to really challenge them). But what Amos said is very true. And McClellan seems to be doing just fine making them defecate all over themselves.

Posted by: jim hamlen at February 14, 2006 9:53 AM

McClellan is doing a great job of staying calm and patiently answering the same question over and over again using the exact same words, as the press corps gets more and more irritated and arrogant.

Ace">http://ace.mu.nu/">Ace of Spades (scroll down) has the video of the press conference and some amusing thoughts on the subject.

Posted by: erp at February 14, 2006 10:55 AM

AP headline..."Cheney Violated Texas Hunting Law" Give me a break!

When will we start hearing Cheney's name connected w/Aaron Burr's?

Posted by: Dave W at February 14, 2006 11:35 AM

"When will we start hearing Cheney's name connected w/Aaron Burr's?"

Last Sunday. Someone even had to edit Cheney's wikipedia biography to add the comparison. Great source of unbiased info, the wikipedia.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at February 14, 2006 12:19 PM

"Attention Housekeeping: We need a wet clean-up in Aisle Gregory. Housekeeping to Aisle Gregory, please."

Posted by: Noel at February 14, 2006 9:37 PM

Perhaps McClellan could start calling Gregory "Helen".....

Posted by: ratbert at February 14, 2006 10:39 PM