There's plenty to mull over in Joe Hagan's excellent profile of Liz Cheney featured over the weekend in New York magazine. There's focus on her role as her father's bulldog, her own political future (dare we whisper, "President Cheney?"), her willingness to aggressively deny reality in defense of her father, Michael Goldfarb's admission that he has "a little crush on her." ("It's hard not to!" he gushes.)
But perhaps the most disturbing bits are not about Cheney at all, but rather about the current state of the Village, and the press that waits upon m'lords and ladies. First, here's what she's up to, and here's her mission:
She has spent nearly every day since her father’s departure from the White House attempting to extricate him from the jaws of infamy by turning current events into a referendum on his policies. Casting herself as his defense lawyer, she has appeared on television 40-odd times in the last year. And she’s conducting the research for a Dick Cheney memoir, a book she persuaded her father to write.
Forty-odd times on TV. Interesting, that. But not nearly as interesting as this part:
When her father has something to say about Obama, the former vice-president takes a break from the book to prepare a political attack, feeding statements to his preferred media conduit, Politico.com.
Yeah, you bet your sweet ass that's emphasis added. There's something that should go on the masthead: "Politico: Dick Cheney's preferred media conduit when launching political attacks against President Obama." Truth in advertising and all that.
Still, while Politico's the most obvious go-to outlet for the Cheney Dynasty, it's clear from reading the article that there's enough nudge nudge palling around in The Village to make a mockery of the traditional media's claim to professional objectivity. Politico's not the only oh-so-cozy Cheney pet (it's just the favorite!). Consider this:
Fox is a regular pulpit, of course, but Liz is also all over NBC, where she happens to be social friends with Meet the Press host David Gregory (whose wife worked with Liz ’s husband at the law firm Latham & Watkins), family friends with Justice Department reporter Pete Williams (Dick Cheney’s press aide when he was secretary of Defense), and neighborhood friends with Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski, daughter of Carter-administration national-security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski. When Mika criticized Dick Cheney on her show last year, the former vice-president sent her a box of chocolate cupcakes.
Lawrence O’Donnell, an MSNBC pundit who engaged in a particularly testy shouting match on Good Morning America with Liz Cheney over waterboarding, says the networks have allowed her a high degree of control over her appearances. “She had up to that point been completely accustomed to having interviews go her way and ceded on her terms,” he observes. “She has been careful to make sure that the interviews worked that way.”
Liz’s friends say she sets the bar for all-American normality: She watches Mad Men and 24 on TV, drives an SUV, attends Girl Scout meetings, and is frequently spotted on the sidelines of soccer fields, trading gossip with people like Terry McAuliffe, Washington Post reporter Glenn Kessler, and other power players whose kids go to the Country Day School or the Potomac School.
"That's the bar for "all-American normality?" Palling around with the former head of the DNC and Post reporters between appearances on (40-odd) talk shows that are "ceded" on her own terms? This idea that the national press corps can cozy up to sources or people in power they cover during afternoon soccer games or over Saturday night dinners, then turn around and hold their feet to the fire is ridiculous. You know it. I know it. Everyone outside of Beltway zip codes knows that. Hell, anyone who's ever tried to challenge a neighbor at a local meeting knows it.
But the Village? Meh. They have their own rules. And cupcakes.