The Media's Selective Attention Span
Within the space of just a few days, we had a former President call for tax-payer funding of a known terrorist organization, a former Vice-President offer aid and comfort to our enemies while giving a speech in a foreign country, and a sitting Vice-President accidentally shoot a friend while quail hunting. Of these three events, the one with the least importance to our national security became the fixation of a self-indulgent media for well over a week.
Given what we already know about the selective memories of many in the mainstream media, it should come as no surprise that they also seem to suffer from a case of selective attention span. On issues that don't present liberals in a favorable light, the press suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder. When it comes to similar situations involving conservatives however, they become obsessive-compulsives. Perhaps a dose of Ritalin is in order.
In the first of these events, we had former President Jimmy Carter call for the continuation of American aid for the Palestinian Authority which, given their recent election results, is tantamount to direct funding of Hamas, a terrorist organization with the avowed goal of the destruction of Israel. Note that in the aftermath of this comment there was no constant hounding by the press as to whether or not the former President would retract, reconsider or revise his remarks. Nor were there any stakeouts of his home attempting to catch him leaving for the office each morning to grill him as to why he refused to do so, or to demand an apology on behalf of the Jewish people.
The second example saw former Vice-President Al Gore, while speaking at a conference in Saudi Arabia, accuse his own country of "terrible abuses" of captured terrorists and "indiscriminately round(ing) up" Arabs after 9/11 on minor charges and holding them "in conditions that were just unforgivable". He went even further and referred to the facilities where we hold captured terrorists as Bush gulags. He made these statements to an Arab audience on foreign soil, in reference to a country where he once campaigned to be President.
These two events by major American political figures went hardly noticed by the American people thanks to a nonplused media that was more interested in Dick Cheney's hunting accident and finding out why they weren't the first to know about it.
If ever there was a real life example of the dictionary definition of the term "feeding frenzy" as it applies to the press, this was it. And what instigated the frenzy was less the story itself, but the media's injured sense of entitlement. "Why did some local Texas paper get the scoop?" "Why was a private citizen putting out the information?" "Why hasn't he come forward and apologized?" Imagine those words in a whiney cry-baby voice and you've got the gist of how the press briefing went in case you missed it.
Immediately, they went into full blown conspiracy mode, speculating that Cheney was either drunk and/or attempting a cover-up of the incident. Such theories fit the standard liberal template, whereas it being the result of an accident while two buddies were out hunting did not.
First they demanded that Cheney offer a public "apology", despite the fact the no one but Harry Wittington was injured. When Cheney did take to the airwaves to discuss his accident, the press corps derided the fact that he chose to do so on Fox News. Then the press complained that the apology wasn't good enough, since he didn't actually use the words "I'm sorry".
What they wanted was a full blown press conference, with Cheney hauled in to contritely bow, scrape and submit himself to their machine gun style questioning. In other words, a repeat of what White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan endured a few days earlier. A chance for reporters to beat up on a public figure before the TV cameras, then thump their chests as they stand over the carcass of their prey. (At least this is how it goes when they dream about it at night.)
The incident did serve some purpose however, by offering a great example of how self important these so-called journalists really are. One went so far as to yell at the White House Press Secretary and call him a "jerk" during an open briefing. No wonder these guy's ratings are going down the drain. People see them for the self-centered bunch they really are.
Columnist Thomas Sowell has pointed out that our friends in the media and on the left in general are (not surprisingly) being selective about what they choose to call a "scandal" and get exercised about. Noting that these are the same people who accuse the Bush administration of "domestic spying", but largely ignored real domestic spying conducted by the Clinton administration, not to mention the hundreds of FBI files that Clinton political hacks absconded for their own purposes.
While one could perhaps attribute a good bit of the inordinate attention to the Cheney story to the fact that there was little other news, as we've seen, that just wasn't the case. It was an opportunity to criticize a conservative Republican that they maintain a vehement distaste for. In other words the Cheney story fit the template, and it triggered the inner obsessive-compulsive in them all.