It’s Dick Cheney Versus CNN’s Wolf Blitzer: Who Is “Out Of Line?”

joe_cheney_angels_small.jpgAnd here we all thought Vice President Dick Cheney was the Vice President of the United States…when his REAL job is editor and media critic.

(Attention Jay Rosen: has the Veep approached you yet to be a coblogger on your GREAT media blog Press Think?)

It seems that Mr. Cheney was on CNN’s The Situation Room with veteran journalist Wolf Blitzer when Blitzer dared to ask Cheney about some negative comments that Focus on the Family — a religious right group that has generally supported the Bush administration and its various campaigns — made about Cheney’s gay daughter’s pregnancy.

Cheney considered the CNN host’s question “out of line” and let Blitzer know that in no uncertain terms several times. Watch it on Crooks And Liars HERE.

Was Blitzer out of line?

There is indeed a privacy issue. However, the story about his daughter Mary’s pregnancy has not exactly been a state secret. It has been all over the airwaves, linked to or written about on many weblogs, covered in the print media. So it is a LEGITIMATE topic — one that Blitzer has not broken in the news media. He isn’t revealing a big secret uncovered by any CNN investigation. You can Google Mary Cheney and find lots of things on Google News and on Google Web.

And there is a LEGITIMATE journalistic question to be asked if Focus on the Family — which is against gay marriage, usually supports the administration, and enjoys warm ties to an administration and a Republican party that has studiously cultivated it — takes a swipe that’s clearly sparked by daughter Mary.

Cheney was using a political form of ju jitsu: by calling Blitzer “out of line” he was suggesting that Blitzer is somehow bigoted against his daughter or the story is somehow off limits.

Is Blitzer the bad guy?

He’s doing his job as a journalist. When he interviews Cheney — or Hillary Clinton or any Democrat, for that matter — his job is to ask a host of questions, some of them tough, and some of them touching on controversies already out there in the news.

If Cheney wanted softball questions, then why didn’t he do what he usually does: why not just give another exclusive interview to Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh?

The issue isn’t Wolf Blitzer being a mean, old, partially-unshaven journalist who’s picking on poor Dick Cheney or his daughter by raising the “l” issue out of the blue. The issue is journalists asking the tough questions journalism schools for years have taught reporters to ask and editors have EXPECTED reporters who’ve paid their dues to ask. The big issue is attemped news management via intimidation of reporters.

Blitzer and other reporters should make sure they ask these kinds of questions…to all of them: Republicans and Democrats and Independents (and Independent Democrats).

There’s a difference between a hack question based on supposition or a “push poll” type question planted by a political operative to smear a politico, and a legitimate question about a widely-covered, ongoing news story. Blitzer asked a question based on an ongoing news story and for a comment on a statement isssued by a group that usually supports Cheney and the Republicans.

SOME OTHER VIEWS ON THIS MINI-CONTROVERSY:

Andrew Sullivan:

The vice-president really does believe that he can somehow champion a party that declares that his daughter must be barred from any legal protections for her child and marriage and never be confronted with the contradiction. Sorry, Mr vice-president, but one day you will have to address how you can front a party dedicated to smearing, marginalizing and disenfranchising a member of your own family. Wolf Blitzer’s question is not out of line. Your hypocrisy is.

Right Voices: “Bring up Cheney’s daughter and you get what you deserve.”

The Agonist:

What really bothers me is that Blitzer was so apologetic about asking a question about Cheney’s gay daughter. Cheney supports Bush who opposes gay marriage and gays having children. So, Wolf’s question is completely in line. Cheney’s a hypocrite, period. But here’s what is going to happen: Cheney and the usual suspects will use this interview as another cudgel to beat up on all them libruls and the librul media and then go do the rest of his interviews with Faux News. I wish Blitzer had just stayed away from the question because it’s a loser. Period.

Digby: “Right. He’s out of line for asking about it. James Dobson, on the other hand, is treated like royalty. These Cheneys are clearly the ones who invented conservative upside-downism, which shouldn’t be surprising since Lynn wrote the book on liberal moral relativism. Black is white — evil is good — conservatives are moral.”

Jersey Is For Lovers:

I find it painfully obvious the Wolf would never of brought this subject up if he were interviewing a gay celebrity. It’s only at times when his morals will not be called to judgment.

Instead of falling into Blitzer’s trap, Dick Cheney replies in a simple “No, I don’t�, when asked if he would like to speak on the subject, followed by a death stare that would scare away a hungry wolf (haha and it did! Mmmm…puns). Was his passive-aggressive outburst called for? Probobly not. Cheney goes on to say how happy he is to have a 6th grandchild, nearly one for each coronary. Wolf sits bumbling until the tension clears. Funny stuff.

Wizbang: “I love how Cheney stares down Blitzer until he left a stammering blob of jello.”

America Wants To Know:

Actors who want to do a character study of anger should get a copy of that tape. Dick Cheney has been in politics and public life a long, long time, and he said all the things that politicians say when confronted with nasty quotes and questions. It wasn’t so much what he said. It was the way he said it. Words were coming out of him like bullets. Interesting. Something’s coming.

UPDATE: Watch it yourself here via You Tube and make your own decision. Most noteworthy: Cheney’s withering look and Blitzer feeling uncomfortable that he is asking the question (which does not mean it’s an inappropriate one since oftentimes journalists have a tough question on their list that is one they wish they didn’t have to ask but feel they must since it is a valid question that’s out there):
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