NO ONE SHOULD BE MEAN TO CHENEY…. Once in a while, during his briefings, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs will get in little digs at the administration’s detractors, with varying degrees of sarcasm. Opinions will vary, but his sense of humor tends to work for me.

What’s interesting, though, is that some members of the press corps seem taken aback when Gibbs fails to show deference to Dick Cheney.

One of the odder things we’ve seen from some members of the White House press corps this year is a kind of zealous over-protectiveness of the previous administration — Dick Cheney, in particular. […]

[During yesterday’s] briefing, another reporter (I’m not sure who) attacked Gibbs again for being mean to Cheney. The reporter said Gibbs had taken a “swipe” at Cheney. What was the swipe? Earlier in the briefing, Gibbs had responded to Cheney’s attack by puckishly saying he had a lot of time on his hands. That was the swipe.

This is just weird.

It is, indeed. Dick Cheney has been waging a crusade to undermine public confidence in the White House, dropping any pretense of institutional and/or historic norms. Indeed, the former vice president had just wrapped up a ridiculous and spectacularly dishonest tirade against the president. Gibbs makes a subtle dig about Cheney having nothing else to do with his time, and some reporters think Gibbs ought to show Cheney more respect?

This isn’t the first time. In March, after one of the former VP’s other petty attacks, Gibbs joked, “I guess Rush Limbaugh was busy. So they trotted out the next most popular member of the Republican cabal.” ABC, CBS, and MSNBC all expressed their disappointment that the press secretary would take such a disrespectful tone towards Cheney.

To be sure, there are lines that shouldn’t be crossed. If Gibbs started leveling personal attacks against Cheney from the briefing room podium, I could understand some pushback. But Cheney is on a crusade against the White House. Why can’t the press secretary give as good as he gets?

Cheney is a big boy. I think he can handle it.

If these reporters were at least as concerned about the former vice president’s dishonesty as they were about Gibbs being mean to him, the coverage would probably be better.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.