OK…I took some artistic license with the quotes around the word “accidentally” in the headline, but I couldn’t resist.
UPDATE: I guess I was too tired from shoveling snow yesterday to focus on this story and didn’t notice that this happened SATURDAY. The world didn’t find out about it until late afternoon SUNDAY.
Are you telling me this administration is so secretive that the Vice President can shoot a man and the world not be told about it until more than 18 hours later? I ask that rhetorically, of course, knowing the answer is “yes.”
According to Editor & Publisher, the Corpus Christi (TX) Caller-Times was the first newspaper to report the shooting, which took place around 5:30 p.m. Saturday. But the first reports did not come until Sunday afternoon.
E&P has learned that the official confirmation of the shooting came about only after a local reporter in Corpus Christi, Texas, received a tip from the owner of the property where the shooting occurred and called Vice President Cheney’s office for confirmation.
The confirmation was made but there was no indication whether the Vice President’s office, the White House, or anyone else intended to announce the shooting if the reporter, Jaime Powell of the Corpus Christ Caller-Times, had not received word from the ranch owner.
One of Powell’s colleagues at paper, Beth Francesco, told E&P that Powell had built up a strong source relationship with the prominent ranch owner, Katharine Armstrong, which led to the tip. Powell is chief political reporter for the paper and also covers the area where the ranch is located south of Sarita.
Armstrong called the paper Sunday morning looking for Powell, who was not at work. When they did talk, Armstrong revealed the shooting of prominent Austin attorney Harry Whittington, who is now in stable condition in a hospital. Powell then called Cheney’s office for the confirmation around midday. The newspaper broke the story at mid-afternoon–not a word about it had appeared before then.
Powell asked Cheney spokesperson Lea Ann McBride if the White House intended to release information about the shooting and was told by McBride, “I’m not going to speculate. When you put the call into me, I was able to confirm that account.”
The E&P story goes on to say that McBride, when asked why she or the White House did not make a statement about the incident on the day it happened, told the New York Times, “We deferred to the Armstrongs regarding what had taken place at their ranch.”
So now it’s the job of a property owner to put out a press release saying the man who is second in command of the United States of America (or first in command, depending on who you ask) shot somebody? Are you freakin’ kidding me?
The E&P story ends with some strong words from the Chicago Tribune’s Frank James, who wrote the following on the paper’s “The Swamp” blog run by the paper’s Washington bureau:
When a vice president of the U.S. shoots a man under any circumstance, that is extremely relevant information. What might be the excuse to justify not immediately making the incident public?
The vice president is well-known for preferring to operate in secret….Some secrecy, especially when it comes to the executing the duties of president or vice president, is understandable and expected by Americans.
But when the vice president’s office, or the White House, delays in reporting a shooting like Saturday’s to the public via the media, it needlessly raises suspicions and questions of trust. And it may just further the impression held by many, rightly or wrongly, that the White House doesn’t place the highest premium on keeping the public fully and immediately informed.