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Cheney shooting victim still carries 30 pieces of shot inside him

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Cheney apparently never personally apologized; Whittington kept bloodstained vest to warn children about firearms safety; Conservative media watchdog complains Washington Post published article to hurt Republicans in polls

It took five years but the media is finally following up on the medical progress of a man accidentally shot by the Vice President of the United States.

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Of course, not everyone is happy about that.

Since Dick Cheney shot him, Harry Whittington’s aim has been to move on,” is the title of Paul Farhi’s four-page-story inside Thursday’s Washington Post.

Nearly five years on, Harry Whittington still speaks with a slight flutter in his voice — a “warble,” he calls it, inadvertently choosing a bird metaphor. His easy East Texas drawl changed forever one day in February 2006 when a tiny lead pellet pierced his larynx. It’s still there.

Whittington sweeps a hand up to his dusky face and points near his right eye, then to the right side of his forehead. The eye socket, hairline and hand have birdshot pellets lodged in them, too. If you look closely — and strangers occasionally sidle up to him to do just that — the accident’s remnants are evident; there’s a tiny bump in each spot.

Every so often, for months afterward, some of the lead in Whittington’s body worked its way to the surface. But many pieces remain too deeply embedded to remove, including one near his heart. At 82, Whittington knows he will live the rest of his days with about 30 pieces of shot inside him. Somehow, he jokes, he can get through a metal detector without causing a commotion.

The Post notes that Whittington saved the bloodstained vest he wore to keep “not just as a souvenir but as a warning.”

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He shows it to friends, and to the children of friends, to illustrate the dangers of firearms. “It’s an education for them,” he says.

MSNBC notes in their writeup of the article, “Cheney has not apologized in public for the shooting, and when asked by the Post if Cheney had done so in private, Whittington paused, then said sharply: ‘I’m not going to go into that.'”

The Post said Whittington was “too gracious” to say Cheney had not said sorry, but also did not dispute he had not received an apology.

Despite this, he told the paper that he regarded Cheney as “a very capable and honorable man.”

“He’s said some very kind things to me,” Whittington said.

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At Huffington Post, Nick Wing blogs, “And with all the speculation that various hunting protocol may have been breached by Cheney, a man that was misrepresented as Whittington’s ‘old friend’ and ‘hunting buddy’ — the two had met only a few times — the only thing that the Texas attorney is left with is a good story and a blood-spattered memento of his ill-fated hunting trip with the Vice President.”

At the Wall Street Journal, law blogger Ashby Jones writes, “It was one of those strange media events: Whittington was prominently on the radar screen for a few days and then gone — not much has been heard from him since.”

At the conservative media watchdog blog Newsbusters, Tim Graham complains that the article might be intended to hurt Republicans in polls, “In a case of curious timing, as the Democrats collapse in the polls, the big, splashy front-page story in Thursday’s Style section of The Washington Post is ‘Since Dick Cheney shot him, a lawyer’s aim has been to move on.'”

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Reporter Paul Farhi is quite positive about lawyer Harry Whittington, who still carries birdshot in his face and body from the quail-hunting accident in February 2006, but the story shows that Bush-hating lefties still find this as fascinating as conservatives looking into Chappaquiddick. Farhi stoops to suggest that maybe it wasn’t an accident: “Eyewitnesses, including Cheney, said the shooting was accidental. Whittington doesn’t dispute that, but his memory of the event is limited only to his most immediate sensations.” And why would Cheney shoot this man on purpose? The Post doesn’t try to answer.

The Cheney-shoots-man story takes up all of page C-9 with text and pictures, and concludes with the punch that Cheney is a world-class jerk who has never apologized.

After noting that “Cheney obviously took responsibility and expressed regret and called it one of the worst days of his life in his first interview with Brit Hume a few days later,” Graham adds, “If Cheney never actually said “I’m sorry,” that’s just ridiculous — both as a human being and as a politician. But if the politician in question were a Democrat, the Post would accept the ‘very kind words’ as not only good enough, but as testimony that the Democrat was indeed a very kind person. The timing on revisiting this old, embarrassing story is clearly political.”

In 2005, RAW STORY reported (cache link), “An article at MSNBC’s Website was edited to remove references to alcohol, that may have been available at a picnic, which preceded the accidental shooting of a 78-year-old lawyer by Vice President Cheney last Saturday.”

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The following paragraph was removed for unexplained reasons from the article sometime after it first was published on the Internet:

Armstrong also told NBC News that she does not believe alcohol was involved in the accident. She says she believes no one that day was drinking, although she says there may have been beer available during a picnic lunch that preceded the incident. “There may be a beer or two in there,” she said, “but remember not everyone in the party was shooting.”

Jane Hamsher at the popular firedoglake blog included the “beer quote” in a post she wrote while it was still on the Web live, then later noted in an update that the article appeared to have been “scrubbed” (or removed) from the MSNBC Website. Hamsher also linked to an earlier post she wrote in which a similiar “scrubbing” occurred, but that time at the CBS News Website.

At The Nation, John Nichols wrote, “The MSNBC story, which appeared only briefly before the website was scrubbed for reasons not yet explained, has been kept alive by the able web investigators at www.rawstory.com and other progressive blogs. And so it should be, as the prospect that alcohol may have been involved in the Texas incident takes the story in a whole new direction.”

As with her over-the-top efforts to blame Whittington, the victim, for getting in the way of Cheney’s birdshot blast, Armstrong’s line on liquor smells a little more like an attempt to cover for the vice president than full disclosure.

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