The Media's War Against Dick Cheney
Dick Cheney has begun a media tour to promote his memoir, In My Time, with excerpts of his NBC Dateline interview showing up on Wednesday's Nightly News and Thursday's Today. If history is a guide, Cheney will face a liberal media that has been stunningly hostile and derisive in their coverage of the former Vice President.
Prior to his selection as George W. Bush's running mate in the summer of 2000, the liberal networks generally treated Cheney — who served as White House chief of staff, Congressman and Secretary of Defense — as a respected Republican leader. But the media turned on Cheney as soon as he joined the Republican ticket, portraying him as an extremist who was "anti-equal rights" and "against education" — even distorting his vote on a non-binding resolution as a vote "against releasing Nelson Mandela from prison," as if the U.S. House had such power.
After September 11, 2001, the networks channeled liberal displeasure with Cheney's strenuous anti-terror agenda, and the far Left unleashed venomous assaults on Cheney — casting the Vice President as a "terrorist," "a goon," and a war criminal. After a suicide bomber attacked the base in Afghanistan where Cheney was visiting — leaving the Vice President unharmed — HBO's Bill Maher argued: "I'm just saying if he did die, other people, more people would live. That's a fact."
MRC has compiled the most noteworthy examples of the media's venomous coverage below, accompanied by audio and video excerpts where noted:
"When you talk about votes like that, that he [Dick Cheney] made while in Congress — anti-affirmative action, anti-abortion, anti-gun control, anti-equal rights — how does George Bush portray him as a compassionate conservative?"
— Today co-host Matt Lauer to Tim Russert, July 26, 2000.
"I have to ask you, as an African-American, if you have any difficulty supporting a man who voted against releasing Nelson Mandela from prison....Is that kind of vote acceptable under any circumstance?"
— Co-host Jane Clayson to Republican Congressman J. C. Watts on CBS's Early Show, July 31, 2000.
"I'm just curious, do you have any problems with the fact that he did vote against Head Start — because you care so deeply about education — and against a resolution that would have allowed Nelson Mandela to be released from prison?"
— Katie Couric to Colin Powell, August 1, 2000 Today.
Katie Couric: "Dick Cheney's past voting record, his congressional voting record, which is quite conservative, is likely to come under fire as well."
Tim Russert: "Absolutely. His votes against Head Start, his votes against education, against Medicare, against gun control....Dick Cheney was an extremely conservative Congressman, there's no doubt about it."
— October 5, 2000 Today.
"In politics, self-made men seem to fall into two categories: sunny and dark....In the 2004 election, Dick Cheney projects the bleakness of a Wyoming winter, while John Edwards always appears to be strolling in the Carolina sunshine."
— Story by Newsweek's Evan Thomas, Susannah Meadows and Arian Campo-Flores as part of a July 19, 2004 cover package on Kerry and Edwards, "The Sunshine Boys?"
"I read you once took a psychological profile test, and it said the position you're most suited for is undertaker."
— ABC's Claire Shipman to Vice President Cheney in an interview shown August 31, 2004 on Good Morning America. [MP3 audio]
"There are those who believe that Dick Cheney has led this administration and this President down a path of recklessness, that maybe his approach, his dark approach to this constant battle against another civilization, is actually the wrong approach for ultimately keeping America safe."
— NBC White House reporter David Gregory during live convention coverage on MSNBC about 8:30pm EDT on September 1, 2004 about two hours before Cheney spoke. [MP3 audio]
"The day I say Dick Cheney is going to run for President, I'll kill myself. All we need is one more liar."
— Hearst White House columnist Helen Thomas, as quoted in the 'Under the Dome' column by Albert Eisele and Jeff Dufour in The Hill newspaper, July 28, 2005.
"I'd like to put this personally, if I can. You're a grandfather. I'm a father. When we look at those girls and we think that the country we're about to pass to them is a country where the Vice President can't say whether or not we have secret prisons around the world, whether water-boarding and mock executions is consistent with our values, and a country where the government is surveilling Americans without the warrant of a court — is that the country we want to pass on to them?"
— Co-anchor Terry Moran to Vice President Dick Cheney in an interview shown on ABC's Nightline, December 19, 2005. [MP3 audio]
"Cheney is a terrorist. He terrorizes our enemies abroad and innocent citizens here at home indiscriminately. Who ever thought [accidental shooting victim] Harry Whittington would be the answer to America's prayers. Finally, someone who might get that lying, thieving Cheney into a courtroom to answer some direct questions."
— Actor/left-wing activist Alec Baldwin in a February 17, 2006 blog entry posted at HuffingtonPost.com.
"I'm just saying if he did die, other people, more people would live. That's a fact."
— Host Bill Maher on his HBO show Real Time, March 2, 2007, discussing how a few commenters at a left-wing blog were upset a suicide bomber's attempt to kill Cheney in Afghanistan had failed. [MP3 audio]
MSNBC's Chris Matthews: "Russ Feingold wants to censure the President, the Vice President..."
Left-wing filmmaker Michael Moore: "Good idea....Personally I'd like to see a perp walk coming out of the West Wing of the White House."
Matthews: "Do you think they're guilty of war crimes?"
Moore: "Absolutely....I think we need a trial, in this country, where Mr. Cheney and Mr. Bush would be brought up on charges for causing the deaths of so many people...."
Matthews: "It's interesting if you go back....the Nuremberg Trials weren't about the genocide, it was about waging an aggressive war. I love reading some of that language. It's interesting."
— MSNBC's Hardball, July 23, 2007. [MP3 audio]
"Is Cheney a goon? I don't mean that to be like a smart ass, but he seems like he might be a goon....My feeling about Cheney — and also Bush, but especially Cheney — is that he just couldn't care less about Americans. And the same is true of George Bush. And all they really want to do is somehow kiss up to the oil people....Is there any humanity in either of these guys?"
— CBS Late Show host David Letterman interviewing former White House press secretary Scott McClellan, June 11, 2008. [MP3 audio]
"You've ruled against impeaching George Bush and Dick Cheney....Why do you, why do you insist on not impeaching these people so that the world and America can really see the crimes that they've committed?"
— Co-host Joy Behar on ABC's The View, July 28, 2008 asking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi why she refuses to begin impeachment proceedings against President Bush and Vice President Cheney.
"I think this has been a profoundly un-American administration....[But] it's going to be very hard to prosecute these people. The Obama folks don't want to do it, because they want to focus on the big problems we have going forward. It might happen overseas, you know, I raised the possibility of Cheney being snatched mid-stream while, you know, fly fishing in Norway, as Augusto Pinochet, the dictator in Chile, was."
— Time's Joe Klein on MSNBC's 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, January 8, 2009.
"Well, 100,000 people are dead now because he got it wrong about nuclear weapons before, back in 2001. We have to remember that Dick Cheney was wrong in a way that was lethal....He does seem like a character out of Dr. Strangelove."
— MSNBC's Chris Matthews on Hardball, February 4, 2009.
"Flatly, it may be time for Mr. Cheney to leave this country. The partisanship, divisiveness, and naivete to which he ascribed every single criticism of his and President Bush's delusional policies of the last eight years have now roared forth in a destructive and uninformed diatribe from Mr. Cheney that can only serve to undermine the nation's new President....You, Mr. Cheney, you terrified more Americans than did any terrorist in the last seven years, and now it is time for you to desist, or to be made to desist."
— MSNBC's Keith Olbermann in a 'Special Comment' reacting to former Vice President Cheney's warnings about future terrorism, February 5, 2009 Countdown.
"He is an enemy of the country, in my opinion, Dick Cheney is, he is an enemy of the country....I just think the guy's such a freakin' loser. You know, Lord, take him to the Promised Land, will you? See, I don't even wish the guy goes to Hell, I just want to get him the hell out of here."
— Ed Schultz, The Ed Schultz Show, May 11, 2009. [MP3 audio]
"Is Dick Cheney running for President?...In some ways, I kind of admire this, kind of, crazy jihad, this one man, kind of, hate-fest that he runs on cable shows."
— Former New Yorker and Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown on MSNBC's Morning Joe, May 12, 2009. [MP3 audio]
"This was as sleazy a presentation by a Vice President as we've had since Spiro Agnew. This was an absolute abomination....This guy just has to lie from beginning to end through his setup of his opposition's position in order to advance any of his ideas at all, none of which have any proof to them at all....This is the kind of sleazy arguing that this guy does in these speeches. It is just ridiculous. It is an insult to the intelligence of anyone who's listening to him."
— MSNBC political analyst Lawrence O'Donnell during live coverage following Cheney's speech on terrorism, May 21, 2009.
"If a Democrat was doing this in a Republican administration, wouldn't the Republicans be saying, this is traitorous?"
— CNN's Anderson Cooper on Anderson Cooper 360, May 21, 2009, asking former Vice President Cheney's daughter, Liz, about her father's criticism of the Obama administration.
"If Ronald Reagan were President, he would try Dick Cheney for war crimes."
— Family Guy's Seth MacFarlane on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, February 19, 2010. [MP3 audio]
"You're damn right, Dick Cheney's heart's a political football. We ought to rip it out and kick it around and stuff it back in him."
— Ed Schultz on The Ed Schultz Show, February 24, 2010. [MP3 audio]
Host Joy Behar: "Was it hard to play Dick Cheney?...Because I know that you're not a fan of Cheney....Where did you find it in yourself to go down and find that satanic spot that we all know so well?"
Actor Richard Dreyfuss: "Are you leading me somewhere? First of all, every actor likes the play bad guys.... To play Dick Cheney, all I had to do was find my Dick Cheney. And you can find all the villainy in the world in your own heart, and that's what an actor's job is. I always say to kids, inside you is Hitler and Jesus. And you got to find the appropriate person and bring them out."
— Exchange on HLN's Joy Behar Show, October 18, 2010. [MP3 audio]