Dick Cheney’s Relations with the Press

Jay Rosen offers the most plausible explanation I have seen to date as to why Vice President Cheney waited eighteen hours to tell the press about his weekend hunting accident.

. . . Cheney took the opportunity to show the White House press corps that it is not the natural conduit to the nation-at-large; and it has no special place in the information chain. Cheney does not grant legitimacy to the large news organizations with brand names who think of themselves as proxies for the public and its right to know. Nor does he think the press should know where he is, what he’s doing, or who he’s doing it with.


The public visibility of the presidency itself is under revision, Marvin. More of it lies in shadow all the time. Non-communication has become the standard procedure, not a breakdown in practice but the essence of it. What Dan Froomkin calls the Bush Bubble is designed to keep more of the world out. Cheney himself is almost a shadow figure in the executive branch. His whereabouts are often not known. With these changes, executive power has grown more illegible under Bush the Younger–a sign of the times in Washington.


Cheney has long held the view that the powers of the presidency were dangerously eroded in the 1970s and 80s. The executive “lost” perogatives it needed to gain back for the global struggle with Islamic terror. “Watergate and a lot of the things around Watergate and Vietnam both during the 70’s served, I think, to erode the authority I think the president needs to be effective, especially in the national security area,” he said in December.

Some of that space was lost to the news media, and its demand to be informed about all aspects of the presidency, plus its sense of entitlement to the star interlocutor’s role.

As the press has become more hostile to presidents and less inclined to respect any boundary of personal privacy for public figures, it stands to reason that a counter-reaction would occur. Presidents have long distrusted the press and sought to present information on their own terms.

Clearly, though, this White House and this vice president are taking that to a new level. So far, the public seems to be siding with the White House rather than the press corps.

FILED UNDER: General, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Herb says:

    No one should be supprised that the White House has a great amount of distrust for the press. Most Americans also mistrust the press. The average guy on the street is tired of the constant lies the press tells as well as the vast amount of stupid questions the press asks in any press confrence. The press acts like they and they only are the heart and soul of the people and they have every right to print everything, including our nations secrets. The constant words, “the people have the right to know” is a lot of garbage and spin the press uses as their excuse to print and tell thair lies and half truths as well as to mislead everyone.

    I would clasify reporters in the same low level as lawyers. The bottom of the food chain.

  2. Anderson says:

    So far, the public seems to be siding with the White House rather than the press corps.

    So, the public that hears only what the White House wants it to hear, “seems to be siding with the White House”? How remarkable.

    See this DeLong post (very long), & the first comment thereto, short enough to reprint here:

    this is the first Whitehouse that can always get its message out no matter what most of the press does. Fox News is more than happy to throwout anythign the Whitehouse tells it no questions asked. Talk Radio will jump when the Whitehouse asks it to. The Washington Times and the WSJ editorial page have no scruples. Bob Novak will willingly out CIA agents. The Whitehouse has no need of the traditional press because it has other large avenues which no other administration has had. So they can bully the press knowing they don’t need the press as much as the press needs them.

    The WH is benefiting from being able to lie to a press that thinks it bad manners to say “Hey, that’s a lie!” It won’t, god willing, last forever.

  3. bindare says:

    The MSM Press is now so obviously partisan it is apparent to even the average citizen who usually only pays attention to politics at election time. The right thinking Blogs and talk radio have added to the Liberal Medias dilema by eroding their dominance as the only source of news. Even though they still control what the news story of the day will be, they are losing power and influence and the speed of their fall is accelerating. It couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch of frauds.

  4. Anderson says:

    These remarks about the “liberal media” are apparently made at secondhand.

    My wife’s Katiephobia means, paradoxically, that I’m exposed to the Today Show on a daily basis. Its fawning deference to the White House is astonishing. And Couric used to have a tough rep as an interviewer.

    The news sections of the NY Times and Wash. Post have been notorious for their buying into White House spin (see the DeLong post I linked above).

    Fox News, by contrast, is a propaganda organ for the Republican Party. Literally. Roger Ailes founded it for that purpose, which it has faithfully followed. If you liked Pravda, you’ll love Fox.

  5. uw says:

    This has nothing to do with what the press wants.

    The news that our Vice President shot a man was withheld for almost a day and (more disturbingly) the local police were kept away over night too.

    In so doing, the appearance of hiding something was created. Hiding something about a shooting.

    That’s the real issue. The only thing the White House press had to do with it is that they’re the normal mechanism of communication and thus served as the canary in a coal mine when the communication didn’t occur.

    Casting that as the unreasonable and jealous demands of the liberal media is classic misdirection and a total scam.

    Cheney screwed up. He shot a guy and then acted like that’s nobody’s business but his own.

  6. LJD says:

    So far, the public seems to be siding with the White House rather than the press corps.

    Where? From blogs, to the news, to call-in talk shows, it seems most people are on a witch hunt. I have seen more assumptions and false reports than I care to repeat. Where does all the conspiracy theory come from?

    So now we are to believe that the local authorities are implicated? Or are they complete incompetents, unable to solve the ‘crime’?

    People, what makes you think you or the MSM knows something that the authorities don’t? This was a hunting ACCIDENT, pure and simple. Regardless of how the story was released, there would have been angry backlash about ‘the cover-up’. Hell, even if there was video, we would be hearing about how it was tampered with or incomplete.

    Time to check yourselves people. You can’t just call some one a liar or drunk without proof. I think the VP should start filing slander charges. Why do those who ‘hate’ the admin want so much to see something that isn’t there?

    Fox news? If you don’t like it, turn it off. I’m tired of people bitching about ONE station surrounded by the liberal MSM. CNN gives you their spin: we tortured whoever, bungled this, misreported that. FOX puts both sides on the air, lets them state their position. Fair and balanced. THAT’S what liberals don’t like, and the fact that they are repeatedly allowed to embarass themselves.

  7. Mark says:

    My wifeÂ’s Katiephobia means, paradoxically, that IÂ’m exposed to the Today Show on a daily basis

    Wouldn’t Katiephobia be a fear of Katie Couric, and thus you do not get to see her in the mornings? 🙂

  8. Herb says:

    Wow Anderson:

    You are a bitter one today, guess you haven’t have any luck at all lately.

    Don’t worry though, after 2008 and 2012,, you can stay mad for another 8 years. Soooo sorry.