The press corps’ over-the-top reaction to this event reflects two things, I think: the reporters’ detestation of the administration, and their ignorance of firearms. If Cheney had been trout fishing and a companion had walked behind him as he started to cast, so that he inadvertently snagged his friend, resulting in a hospital visit, would we have seen this kind of frenzy? I don’t think so. I think that, among other things, the press corps’ innate ignorance of, and hostility to, firearms is coming through.
Putting aside whether the media detests getting the run around for two+ days, I’ll focus on fishing. While fly casting, I myself have snagged just about everything in sight: My hat, my ear, the fence, willows, tall grass, short grass, rocks, the back of my shirt, occasionally a fish, and very nearly a cow. While I know people who have put a hook right into a partner or a passerby, I’ve been fortunate enough never to do so. Fly fishers have developed a complicated but generally effective strategy of not casting when people are standing behind them, and knowledgable bystanders are generally smart enough to stay out of the way.
Fly casting, by its nature, involves throwing line outside of one’s field of vision. Shooting, I think not so much. In fact, I’ll admit to being horribly ignorant of firearm etiquitte, but I’m pretty sure that the Shotgun Getting Started Quickguide includes the phrases “don’t shoot at people,” and “look at your target.” Further, I’ve never heard of anybody being nearly killed by a fishhook. A quick googling turns up no systematic recording of No. 12 Adams-inflicted injuries—quite in contrast to the wealth of data and research on shooting accidents.
Accusing the media of not understanding guns, and then comparing guns to fly rods: Not a brilliant strategy.
Update: I do hope that, should I someday put a friend in the hospital with an errant cast, that I would have the good taste to instruct my staff to refrain from joking about it.
Update II: I’d send out those instructions double-quick, too, so that I wouldn’t look too ogrish if the fishook caused a heart attack.