Monday, June 13, 2005

Cheney Lambastes Media Coverage of Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility

Brian Williams closed NBC Nightly News tonight by excusing the amount of coverage given to the Michael Jackson child molestation trial.

"As a man who once sat in this chair said, we can't be above the news," Williams opined, referring to former anchor Tom Brokaw, who made an artform out of frowning and grimacing when forced to report good news for Republicans or conservatives.

Somehow NBC found itself above this news, from an American Forces Press Service story:
MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla., June 13, 2005 - Vice President Richard B. Cheney bristled in a June 10 interview here at the attention being given to allegations made by detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and how the publicity given to those allegations far outweighs that given to the good things U.S. servicemembers are doing.

Cheney spoke with Air Force Master Sgt. Sean Lehman of the Pentagon Channel after presenting medals to five special operations servicemembers for valor in combat.

"I think what's representative of the efforts that we've mounted is best captured by those five men I decorated today - amazing Americans who put their lives on the line for their fellow soldiers and for the American people, and that doesn't get enough coverage," he said.

"We've got over 500 individuals there who are primarily terrorists -- who were captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan, are members of al Qaeda, or in some fashion constitute a threat to the United States," Cheney said. Yet, he noted, the detainees at Guantanamo are treated and fed well, they receive medical care and their religious needs are catered to. Much of the criticism leveled at Guantanamo, he said, focuses on isolated incidents or results from rumors peddled by former detainees who have been freed.

"We absolutely have to have a facility like this as long as we're engaged in the global war on terror," Cheney said. "And the important thing is that we not release these people back on to the street so they can go out and kill more Americans. I think there has been a certain lack of perspective ... on the part of some public officials as well as a number of folks in the press, frankly, who spend all their time thinking somehow that's representative, or that what we're doing at Abu Ghraib or, in this case, Guantanamo, is somehow unlawful or illicit, or not consistent with American practices and principles."

While the media are free to focus on whatever they choose to, the vice president said, he expressed the hope that distorted coverage or the actions of a few would not overshadow "the enormous goodness of this great nation."
When the Vice President of the United States finds it necessary to castigate the media for their grossly biased coverage of the war on terror, that's news.

But Brian Williams is right about one thing. NBC isn't above the news, even when they choose not to cover it.