Washington Post Accuses White House of "Arrogance of Power'

February 15th, 2006 10:43 PM

Today, a Washington Post Op-Ed columnist, Dave Ignatius said this of the Bush Administration:

There is a temptation that seeps into the souls of even the most righteous politicians and leads them to bend the rules, and eventually the truth, to suit the political needs of the moment. That arrogance of power is on display with the Bush administration.

Of course, Mr. Ignatius is referring to the latest MSM obsession, the unfortunate accident in which Vice President Chaney peppered a friend with shotgun pellets while on a hunting trip. While the Vice President's friend is expected to fully recover, the mainstream media has so far spent the entire week obsessing over the 24-hour delay in the announcement of this incident. And, while part of the media frenzy is justifiably related to the unusual nature of the accident, the 24-hour delay has rankled the Washington media beyond all understanding.

A perfect example of this is the heated exchange between David Gregory of NBC News and Scott McClellen, the White House's Press Secretary:

Gregory asked White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan about the Cheney hunting accident.

'David, hold on, the cameras aren't on right now,' McClellan replied. 'You can do this later.'

'Don't accuse me of trying to pose to the cameras,' Gregory said, voice rising. '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, pointing a finger at McCellan at his dais. '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.'

'Calm down, Dave, calm down,' said McClellan.

'I'll calm down when I feel like calming down,' Gregory said. 'You answer the question.'

When confronted with their obsessive behavior, many in the MSM have countered by accusing the Bush Administration of exhibiting a "pattern of behavior" in regards to withholding information from the press. As is they were entitled to know anything and everything they wished to know. And Mr. Ignatius seems to have read from the same script. Here is a particularly telling quote:

Bush and Cheney are in the bunker. That's the only way I can make sense of their actions. They are steaming in a broth of daily intelligence reports that highlight the grim terrorist threats facing America. They have sworn blood oaths that they will defend the United States from its adversaries -- no matter what. They have blown past the usual rules and restraints into territory where few presidents have ventured -- a region where the president conducts warrantless wiretaps against Americans in violation of a federal statute, where he authorizes harsh interrogation methods that amount to torture.

President Bush and Vice President Cheney are "in the bunker," according to Mr. Ignatius. They've blown it in Iraq, threatened our freedoms here at home, violated laws... They've even tortured terrorists!

But is this really all about a pattern exhibited by the Bush Administration? Have Democrats always been perfectly forthcoming to the press? In his Op-Ed, even Mr. Ignatius admits to his credit that this is not the case; citing Senator Kennedy's role in the death of Mary Joe Kepechne in 1969 and Kennedy's delay in discussing his role in the accident.

What Mr. Ignatius does not say, however, is that Senator Kennedy has, over the decades, consistently refused to answer any questions regarding the incident at Chappaquiddick. Would a stubborn refusal to answer questions related to an accident in which a woman died not constitute a pattern?

What about Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid's heart attack, which took place in mid-August of 2005? Senator Reid's staff waited three days before announcing the incident and, upon being queried by the Washington media why there was such a long delay, were told, "The reason was the tests and the evaluations that they were doing. We wanted to make sure we knew what we were announcing. You need conclusive information."

This answer, when offered by a Democrat, seemed quite acceptable to the press at the time. But upon being told much the same thing by Scott McClellen and Cheney's staff, this explanation was summarily rejected. At the same time, it remains to be seen if even one mainstream outlet has proposed the simpler and more likely explanation that perhaps the Vice President was simply too distraught to speak to the press at the time.

So, is this really a Bush Administration pattern?

I'm not convinced, especially considering the fact that the mainstream media has, from the first day Bush took office, constantly grumbled over the Administration's tight-lipped approach towards the media. With the previous administration, the Washington media had, first, a President they admired and, second, unprecedented access to officials throughout the Clinton Administration. After eight years of near-complete access to an administration, the more traditional approach of the Bush Administration must have been like a slap in the face to members of the media. And, after five years, they are frustrated, to say the least.

Queue David Gregory's tirade.

The media in this country has traditionally had a great deal of power and influence, both of which have been eroding for at least the past two decades. And now they must deal with an administration that does not bow to their every whim, doesn't play coy during press briefings, and does not invite them into the back rooms of the White House to offer juicy tidbits.

Those poor media elites are feeling snubbed, and completely frustrated with their inability to score points against the administration. The Bush Administration knows that the liberal influence which has long permeated the mainstream media is slowly and surely dissapating. And liberals in the media know that the Bush Adminstration knows it.

The media's arrogance, and its sense of self-importance, has been challenged, both by the current administration as well as the growth of the new media... And liberals in the media do not like this one little bit.