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February 22, 2006
And On Review, There Is No Story

NBC has breaking news on Quailgate, and it won't please the members of the Fourth Estate. It turns out that all of the witnesses to the shooting have a consistent story -- and it matches what Dick Cheney said all along about the accidental shooting of Harry Whittington:

NBC News has obtained new documents regarding the shooting accident involving Vice President Dick Cheney.

NBC News filed an Open Records Act request with the sheriff's office in Kenedy County, Texas, which investigated the shooting. Late Wednesday, NBC received two dozen pages of documents, including hand-written affidavits on the shooting never before made public. ...

In this case, all the accounts are similar and consistent with how Vice President Cheney has already described the incident. The statements say Cheney and his friend were about 30 yards apart when the vice president shot, aiming for a single bird. The statements all agree this was an accident, and no one places blame on Whittington.

Several of the statements say that no one was drinking alcohol during the late-afternoon hunt — again, consistent with the vice president's account. One member of the hunting party does volunteer that she had a glass of wine at lunch, four hours before the accident.

All of the witnesses tell the same essential story: no one was drunk, the Veep aimed at a bird, and swung around to shoot it and hit his friend by mistake instead. The ellipsis in the above quotation eliminated one paragraph, however:

There are six new affidavits from members of the shooting party. Most are dated Feb. 15, four days after the shooting. One is dated Feb. 17, almost a week after the vice president accidentally shot his friend, Harry Whittington. Some law enforcement experts say that's an unusually long period of time, after a shooting, to gather written statements from witnesses. Ideally, they say, investigators like to get such affidavits when memories are still fresh, and can't be influenced by other witness accounts.

So on one hand, NBC wants to impress everyone by telling them that they've scooped the rest of the media by getting a hold of the affidavits first. Then, before they even report what the documents say, they undermine them with a thinly-veiled accusation of witness tampering. Besides, the police only worry about timing of statements when they investigate crimes, not incidents where everyone involved insists that the shooting was accidental, including the victim.

Now can we get the media kids to agree that this was never a story?

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 22, 2006 9:52 PM

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