Thursday, February 16, 2006
Brit Hume friendly and not-so-friendly
Except for a few misteps, Fox News' Brit Hume did better than many would have expected in his exclusively exclusive interview with Vice President Dick Cheney today (transcript).
In between perhaps his two finest moments of the interview (finest in terms of asking hard, pointed questions, reacting off of what the Vice President had just said), Hume suffered one of those misteps.
This came after Cheney explained why he waited until the next day before even discussing calling the media (which is quite preposterous or at least it would be if it were a scene in any political movie, book or tv show):
Q Well, what -- you must have recognized, though, with all your experience in Washington, that this was going to be a big story.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, true, it was unprecedented. I've been in the business for a long time and never seen a situation quite like this. We've had experiences where the President has been shot; we've never had a situation where the Vice President shot somebody.
Then Hume made the mistake of leading Cheney and letting him repeat almost simultameously the same words back:
Q Not since Aaron Burr.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Not since Aaron Burr --
Q Different circumstances.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Different circumstances.
Different circumstances, indeed (it's hard to resist).
But then Hume went for the throat:
Q Well, did it occur to you that sooner was -- I mean, the one thing that we've all kind of learned over the last several decades is that if something like this happens, as a rule sooner is better.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, if it's accurate. If it's accurate. And this is a complicated story.
Q But there were some things you knew. I mean, you knew the man had been shot, you knew he was injured, you knew he was in the hospital, and you knew you'd shot him.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Correct.
Q And you knew certainly by sometime that evening that the relevant members of his family had been called. I realize you didn't know the outcome, and you could argue that you don't know the outcome today, really, finally.
Washington Post reporter and media critic, Howard Kurtz, from Brit Hume, Cheney's Choice For a Straight Shooter:
Mary Matalin, a former Cheney aide and informal adviser who accompanied him to the interview in the vice president's ceremonial office, said the vice president likes Hume but that "our objective was to get the whole story out in a consecutive way. He wanted a long form. We had no desire for anything other than comprehensive and hard questions."
Matalin said Cheney considered holding a news conference, but that "would have meant a lot of grandstanding" by reporters. "Everyone asks the same questions so they can get on their networks," she said. Matalin said she didn't think "any purpose would be served" by the vice president doing further interviews because every news organization will excerpt the Fox session.
Hume, who has known Cheney since he was a House member from Wyoming, said he believes the vice president chose Fox because it is the top-rated cable network, and picked him because he hosts the only Washington-oriented hour on Fox's schedule.
From my Raw Story article:
Hume later told Fox Anchor Shepard Smith that he tried to get Cheney to admit that he made a mistake in the handling of the incident, but was unable to do so, and that the vice president was "utterly unapologetic" about that aspect. Hume wondered how Cheney felt about leaving White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan and others hung "out to dry." But the Vice President thought that the White House staff had handled the matter appropriately.
It was obvious from Hume's body, face and verbal language that he wasn't satisfied with Vice President's "utterly unapologetic" stance regarding - assumingly - every single action taken by the entire staff of the White House since he accidently shot his friend.
There were other questions Hume could have asked, but it certainly was better than I expected.
As I wrote at Raw Story:
Fox News is generally more favorable to the Bush Administration than the other major cable news channels, so there may be some additional criticism hurled at the Vice President's decision to appear in a friendlier venue, instead of holding a press conference himself, where he could answer questions from the White House press corps, many of whom are still upset about the nearly 24-hour delay in reporting the incident in the first place.
Perhaps Kurtz is a Raw reader:
Fox News is widely viewed as more sympathetic to the Bush administration than the other networks, particularly through its high-profile talk show hosts. Asked about suggestions that Cheney chose Fox to assure himself of a friendly forum, Hume said: "If they want to say that, that's fine. Let people look at the transcript of the interview."
I accidently caught Bill O'Reilly's show later in the evening, where he kept arguing with guests and rationality that this wasn't a story. While I don't think the Vice President's going to be able to get away without holding a press conference, at the very least we were spared the sight of O'Reilly holding hands with Cheney and walking him through an interview (where they could have addressed more important things like the war against Christmas, I presume).
Some on the right don't want to hear it...but the admission of alcohol consumption by Cheney should fuel the fire higher.
For even if Cheney wasn't under the influence when he shot Whittington, as the Times points out:
"Shooting Safety Rules" of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department warn, "Don't drink alcohol or take drugs before or while handling firearms or bow and arrows."
Who can say what kind of state Cheney was in when he resumed hunting anywhere from one to two hours after enjoying a beer?
And Armstrong, Cheney's designated witness, has been telling different stories about alcohol all over the mainstream media.
How come US Ambassador to Switzerland Pamela Willeford isn't being called on to the carpet? She was the closest person to the accident, plus she works for the federal government.
(But don't believe that silly rumour-mongering out there, Willeford's husband was also at the ranch, so there isn't any Swiss Vice Connection)