Double-Barrelled Blast: GMA Floats Cheney Cover-Up, Doubts Witness Account

Good Morning America took a double-barrelled blast at Vice President Cheney this morning over his accidental shooting of a quail-hunting companion, suggesting the White House might have tried to cover up the incident and calling into question a witness's version of events.

GMA did at first describe the accident as having occurred because the victim, attorney Harry Whittington, failed to observe the quail-hunting rule by which hunters remain in a single line as they advance, indicating that the accident occurred after Whittington left the line to retrieve a bird from the tall grass.

But GMA host Charlie Gibson later claimed that there was "growing political fallout" from the incident, wondering:

"Why didn't the White House tell everyone when this accident happened? Why did they wait so long and did that make a bad situation even worse?"

The MSM typically treats talk radio and the pajamahadeen with contempt, but when it suits their purposes . . . ABC White House reporter Jessica Yellin stated that it took the VP's office nearly 24 hours to go public with the incident, adding:

"That delay has prompted speculation online and on talk radio that perhaps Mr. Cheney was hoping to cover up the incident."

So GMA wouldn't offer the cover-up conspiracy theory as its own, but used the convenient hook of reporting that the suddenly respectable new-media types had.

Gibson then interviewed Kathryn Garcia, the youthful reporter at the Corpus Christi Caller-Times who broke the story. Garcia, manning the paper's news desk on a sleepy Sunday morning, had this world-class story fall into her lap when ranch-owner Katharine Armstrong called in and couldn't find the reporter she was looking for.

Gibson tried to lure Garcia into second-guessing Armstrong's account of the accident:

"I know that she told you that Mr. Whittington did not follow protocol and came up from behind the VP and didn't announce that he was there having gone off to fetch a quail. But we've talked to a bunch of hunters who say they've never heard of that, that there's no protocol like that. That the real problem is that the shooter has to be aware of where everyone in his party may be. Do you know anything about hunting protocol?"

The engaging Ms. Garcia wouldn't buy into Gibson's theory. Disclaiming much knowledge of hunting, she did allow that while "you're supposed to look before shooting, I think it would have been smart for Mr. Whittington to announce his presence."

Sorry, Charlie!

Finkelstein lives in Ithaca, NY where he hosts the local TV program "Right Angle." Email him at: mark@gunhill.net

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.