Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Will Vice President Cheney be indicted--and will the US media report it?

A French investigation into $180 million in bribes paid by oil companies to government officials in Nigeria threatens to implicate US Vice President Richard Cheney, according to reports in the French and British press. The conservative French daily newspaper Le Figaro wrote last month that “the Paris court contemplates an eventual indictment of the present United States’ vice president, Richard Cheney, in his capacity as former CEO of Halliburton.”

The American media, however, has been all but silent on the subject. The first reference to appear in a major US daily occupied all of nine brief paragraphs in the Washington Post January 21. The newspaper buried on page A23 a report that the second highest official in the US government was under investigation for authorizing bribes.

The Post article made no mention of any possible indictment of Cheney, only noting that the bribes were allegedly paid while he was Halliburton’s chief executive, from 1995 to 2000.

. . .

It is worth contrasting their kid-glove treatment of Cheney with the frenzy whipped up, especially by the New York Times and the Washington Post, over the Whitewater investigation. A 15-year-old real-estate deal, involving $150,000 of undeveloped land in the Ozarks, in which no criminal acts were committed and Bill and Hillary Clinton lost money, but which became a cause celebre in the American media. But there is virtually no media interest in the ongoing probe into $180 million in bribes in which the vice president of the United States may be directly implicated.

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