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Cheney Vs. Journalism

U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney 2005/5/6
AP
This column was written by John Nichols

In addition to serving as the most powerful vice president in history, Dick Cheney also finds time to be the King of Irony.

In that latter role, Cheney is scheduled to present the Gerald Ford Journalism Awards during a closed-door luncheon on Monday, June 13, at the National Press Club in Washington. The Ford Awards honor what Cheney refers to as "distinguished reporting on the presidency and national defense" -- which, considering the Washington press corps' stenographic coverage of the White House prior to the launch of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, is something of an oxymoron.

But there could be no greater oxymoron than the association of the name "Dick Cheney" with the craft of journalism. No wonder the organizers of the event felt it necessary to include four explanation marks on the notice that: "THIS EVENT IS FOR MEMBERS AND THEIR GUESTS ONLY!!!!"

The crowning irony of Cheney giving out journalism awards is that the vice president hates everything about journalism, unless, of course, it is the journalism of Rupert Murdoch.

Dick Cheney does not have a taste for media that might challenge his preconceived notions. And he has never approved of reporters who believe the White House has a duty to communicate critical information to the American people. Cheney is not joking when he says, "It's easy to complain about the press -- I've been doing it for a good part of my career."

A militant when it comes to White House secrecy, Cheney has a long history of punishing aides who cooperate with reporters -- before the 1991 Persian Gulf War, then-Secretary of Defense Cheney fired Air Force Chief of Staff General Michael J. Dugan for discussing general war planning with the Washington Post.

But, while Cheney can be rough on his subordinates, he is even rougher with the rare journalist who seeks to be anything more than a stenographer for the White House.