Saturday, May 23, 2009


Why was Liz Cheney all over television last week?

A week has 168 hours. That’s 10,080 minutes. There’s no way you can make it shorter.

For you and me, we may not care. Life goes on. But, if you’re running a cable news operation, you face an unending, ceaseless demand for “programming.” Ten thousand and eighty minutes divided into program segments of approximately seven minutes each means you must be prepared to deliver some sort of on-air content to cover 1,440 segments – this week, next week, the week after, and… every week until you shut it down, turn it off, or blow your brains out.

Thus, in answer to this oppressing necessity, there has been created in modern American culture the “Talking Head.” These are the faces and mouths, the eyes, ears and hair, which fill the screen and add the audio. Their real purpose - treading water until… the next segment. For the Programming Department, the “Talking Head” is the tiny rat on the spinning wheel – you know, the wheel that turns and turns but never goes anywhere.

If you’re a baseball fan, you’ll immediately understand. The “Talking Head” is the television equivalent of the middle-reliever, someone brought in from the bullpen in the third inning, somebody who can “give you some innings.” No crying baseball? Well, there’s no “mercy rule” in television. No time-out. Every minute is sixty-seconds and you must fill them up – each and every one - with something to look at and something that makes noise. You can never reach the next segment without completing the current one.

Obviously, the qualifications for who can be a “Talking Head” is either very liberally interpreted or totally ignored. “Any port in a storm” has been replaced in the daily world of today’s cable news networks with “Any face, Anytime.” In a moment of panic – when catastrophe strikes – the only known escape is to hit the control room button and bring up Billy Mays’ stain remover rant or the saving grace of the “Sham-Wow.”

“Talking Heads” feed the televised tapeworm. And, there is never enough food.

This explains why we have been lately subjected to former Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughter Liz. She’s out there for Daddy. Were she a few years younger this would easily be labeled child-abuse. Of course, as a father, I appreciate the loyalty and love of a daughter. I have three and I am positive each of them would do for me what Cheney’s daughter has done for him. What greater gift can a daughter give than to publicly embarrass herself to protect her father from the consequences of his action?

So, let us praise Liz Cheney for her devotion to family and her willingness to humiliate herself for her Dad – and now let’s ask the only questions she should have been confronted with while she was on television, but of course she wasn’t.

Question #1: Do you have any idea what you’re talking about?

This is not a frivolous question. She’s defending her father and quite specifically attacking President Obama. Based on what? Her opinion? Her unquestioning love for her father? Or does she have some facts on which to base her opinion that her father’s torture policies were both legal and productive and Obama’s stopping them is wrong and damaging to the nation? Since this is what she said – shouldn’t she be asked - how does she know this?

If Liz Cheney only has opinions – well, we all have opinions. She’s only giving the cable programmers “some innings.” More meat for the monster. Here today, gone tomorrow. If we’re dumb enough to watch, that’s our problem.

But, if she has some real information, some facts, some data to back-up her assertions – well, if she does, where did she get this information, these facts, this data? After all, she’s only Dick Cheney’s daughter. She possesses no other qualifications; she has no official resume or background or experience – and for damn sure – Liz Cheney has no national security clearance. As far as we can tell, she has no first-hand capacity to know anything that you or I don’t know.

Unless, she’s spoken with her father about this issue – about the run-up to the Iraq War and the use of torture and rendition by the CIA and other American agencies and operatives, private, public, secret and foreign.

This leads right into the next question Liz Cheney should have been asked on television.

Question #2: Have you ever discussed this topic with your father?

Maybe she says, “No.” Okay, in that case – why is she on the air?

Maybe she says, “Yes.” In that case isn’t she admitting that her father, the former Vice President of the United States, has violated a number of federal laws regarding the use and dissemination of classified information?

Liz Cheney appeared on every cable news network last week. She also was seen on each of the traditional over-the-air networks. They all covered her remarks. Did anyone, at any of these television operations, ask her these questions?

Perhaps, the next time she sticks her head above the mud, somebody with a microphone will ask her how she got so dirty.

1 comment:

jastover said...

Papa: Liz Cheney is not the total lightweight you seem to imply. She's a University of Chicago trained lawyer who worked for the State Department for five years before law school, and in 2002. was appointed Deputy Assistant secretary of State for Near Eastern affairs (recommended no less by Colin Powell).

She left to work on her father's reelection campaign in 2004, then returned to State in 2005 as a high ranking Mid Eastern diplomat.

Her husband, Philip Perry, was at one time the General Counsel to the Department of Homeland Security.

You might not like her politics, but she is not without qualifications.