The first revolt of the American colonists against their British rulers was immortalized by Ralph Waldo Emerson as "the shot heard round the world." Vice President Dick Cheney's hunting accident has now become the shot heard round the Beltway.
The accidental shooting of Harry Whittington, while he was on a hunting trip with Dick Cheney, has nothing to do with government policy or the Vice President's official duties but the mainstream media have gone ballistic over it nevertheless.
They are also angry that the news was not given to them more quickly, which prevented it from becoming the feeding frenzy of the Sunday television talk shows. Whether this delay was deliberate or otherwise, it is being called a "cover-up" in the media, as if there were some crime to cover up.
NBC White House correspondent David Gregory was shouting at White House press secretary Scott McClellan, as if Mr. Gregory's Constitutional rights were being violated. It was a classic example of a special interest demanding special privileges -- as if they were rights.
There is nothing in the Constitution or the laws that says that the media have a right to be in the White House at all, much less to have press conferences.
This has become a customary courtesy over the years, but courtesy is a two-way street, except for those in the media who act like spoiled brats, as if they have some inherent right to whatever serves their institutional, career, or ideological purposes.
The media love to wrap themselves in the mantle of "the public's right to know" but there is no such dedication to that right when it goes against the journalists' own prejudices.
The public's right to know what a "partial birth abortion" is has been consistently disregarded for years by whole networks, even when they have given wide coverage to abortion controversies. Whatever your position on abortions, you need to know what you are talking about but the media recognize no such "right to know."
If you knew, you might not agree with them.
The same journalists who used phony documents to attack President Bush's military service recognize no "right to know" why Senator John Kerry's honorable discharge is dated long after his service was over and during the Carter administration, when less than honorable discharges were allowed to be upgraded to honorable.
The "public's right to know" apparently extends only to such things as will not cause the public to reach conclusions different from those of the liberal media.
My favorite press secretary was Margaret Tutwiler, who treated reporters like misbehaving little boys, which is how they often acted. Nor were the reporters' antics due solely to personal boorishness.
They had before them the example of Dan Rather and Sam Donaldson, who reached the big time on TV by being snotty to Presidents. At the very least, White House correspondents can get more time on the tube by waxing indignant at what they choose to portray as violations of "the public's right to know" while the cameras are rolling.
An off-duty incident in Dick Cheney's private life has been hyped in the media as if it had some real significance for more than a quarter of a billion Americans.
The media want to know when was President Bush informed about this incident? What did the White House press secretary know and when did he know it?
The people who mattered -- doctors and local law enforcement -- were informed immediately about the hunting accident. What was President Bush supposed to do -- other than provide the media with something to print or broadcast?
The media are so full of themselves -- among other things that they are full of -- that they act as if the government exists to provide them with something to publicize. The time is long overdue to put these people in their place. Where is Margaret Tutwiler when we need her?
The New York Times informs us solemnly that, if Mr. Whittington dies, there will be a grand jury investigation.
If Mr. Whittington is so uncooperative as not to die, there will be much disappointment and frustration in Beltway media circles.