February 18, 2006
People want to know what it is like to be a conservative columnist
at the San Francisco Chronicle. Suffice it to say, there
are days -- as in the Monday after Vice President Dick Cheney shot
a buddy in a quail-hunting accident -- when I'd rather be working
for a conservative rag, like The Weekly Standard.
If I close
my eyes, I can imagine the scene. I'm not at The Chronicle,
I'm breakfasting with other journalists -- and because they're
conservative, too, they don't think I'm a total freak. We all
agree, speaking passionately about hunting protocol, that it was
wrong for Harry Whittington to take it lightly. We shake our heads,
gravely disappointed that Whittington forsook an individual's
profound responsibility -- that is taken too lightly by the liberal
media -- to warn others when he is standing where they are shooting.
Chronicle, I'm like the nerd with a bull's-eye taped on his
back. Nothing can stop the barrage. I try to be pre-emptive. As
I pick up political reporter Carla Marinucci for the drive into
work Monday, I speak first: "No Cheney jokes."
five -- before we reach the freeway ramp. And at work all day,
certain individuals (who don't know who they are) lie in wait
-- anxious for the moment they can buttonhole me and launch their
own orange vest/yellowcake uranium joke here. Inquiring minds
want to know: Aren't I going to write about Cheney? What am I
supposed to say? Accidents are bad? OK. Accidents are bad. For
the record, here it is: Dick Cheney should not have shot Harry
Whittington. Not that most reporters will leave the brouhaha there.
There is the familiar refrain, which is always the follow-up when
you don't bash the Bushies enough: What about the White House's
handling of the incident?
a good way to announce that the vice president shot someone by
mistake. There's this cheesy way that pundits troll for an angle
-- they try to frame a story on something ennobling, so it won't
look like they're taking potshots (pun intended) at the veep while
he's down. It's lowbrow fascination masquerading as high-minded
principle, equivalent to news stations running an item about Pamela
Anderson's boycott of the Kentucky Derby because of her animal-rights
activism, when the real goal is to show B-roll of Anderson half-naked
the Corpus Christi Caller-Times versus The New York
Times angle, the full day without disclosure angle, even
the Scooter Libby/Valerie Plame angle. Please. These are all self-important
ways of not saying what many journalists simply want to holler
from the rooftops: Dick Cheney is Elmer Fudd.
2006 Creators Syndicate