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CyberAlert -- 07/24/2000 -- Cheney a "Reasonable" Conservative

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Cheney a "Reasonable" Conservative; "Political Mistake" Not to Pick McCain; "Smart" to Tap Ridge

1) Despite a "very conservative" record, Dick Cheney "appeared to be a moderate, reasonable person" because he dealt candidly with the press, Steve Roberts asserted. NBC's Andrea Mitchell tagged him "very conservative" with "a moderate face." CBS warned "his voting record might be too conservative to fit with Bush."

2) A phone number provided by NBC reporter Pete Williams, a former aide to Dick Cheney, enabled NBC's Lisa Myers to break the news that Cheney had changed his voter registration to Wyoming.

3) The McCain for VP boomlet excited ABC's Cokie Roberts. On Friday she proclaimed if Bush "wants to win it's a good idea." On Sunday she called it a "political mistake" to not choose McCain.

4) McCain for VP "landed in Texas with a thud" or "the Texas Governor did nothing to dampen it"? Depends if you watched CBS or NBC Friday night.

5) Media regret over Bush's expected failure to name a "pro-choice" VP. World News Tonight anchor Elizabeth Vargas bemoaned how that decision opens up Bush to charges of reflecting "the same old party," and on Inside Washington NPR's Nina Totenberg insisted it would "be smart" for Bush to defy his base by picking Ridge.

6) A memo from Hillary's campaign clearly asked supporters to misrepresent themselves to reporters, but that's okay with Newsweek's Eleanor Clift: "That's not lying. That's not volunteering information. There's a difference."


1

Dick Cheney has a "very conservative" voting record, Steve Roberts warned on Sunday's Late Edition, but he nevertheless "appeared to be a moderate, reasonable person" because he dealt with the press.

In the July 23 roundtable discussion on the CNN show about the latest GOP VP talk, Roberts, a former New York Times reporter now toiling for U.S. News, may have best reflected the Washington media attitude toward potential VP pick Cheney: despite being a conservative he's an okay guy. Roberts asserted:

"I covered Dick Cheney for many years. He's a man of great solidity. He's a man who has very good relations with the press. He's a little like John McCain. He voted very conservatively but he appeared to be a moderate, reasonable person because he was candid with the press and open, but he is not a particularly dynamic person."

Earlier, on NBC's Meet the Press, reporter Andrea Mitchell expressed the same theme, but added how Cheney voted "against fair housing," among other sins:

"He has a very conservative voting record, he has a moderate face. He's being praised today by people as diverse as David Obey, a very liberal Democratic Congressman from Wisconsin, Tony Coelho, because he always got along in the House. He would be Speaker of the House had not left to become Defense Secretary because Newt Gingrich would never have risen up. But he was a very conservative voting record, against some Social Security issues, against fair housing. This man is very good for conserving the Republican base on that side and he will, I think, be the running mate."

Meanwhile, CBS News made sure its viewers realized how conservative Cheney is as well as another name forwarded in speculation. On Saturday's CBS Evening News, in listing negatives for both Cheney and former Senator John Danforth, CBS News analyst Gloria Borger assessed from the left:

"But Cheney does have those heart problems and he also has a conservative voting record during the Reagan years which could be mined by the Democrats. And since we're sure that the Supreme Court appointments are going to be a major issue in this campaign, John Danforth's key role in shepherding that Clarence Thomas nomination through the Senate would also become an issue for the Democrats."

The next night, Sunday July 23, reporter Bill Whitaker passed along supposed concern that Cheney is too conservative for Bush: "Former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, who's generated considerable buzz in recent days, would be the kind of solid, loyal number two Bush seeks. But some Republicans say his voting record might be too conservative to fit with Bush and his health record, of three heart attacks and bypass surgery, might be a problem."

2

NBC's hiring of a former aide to Dick Cheney helped NBC News reporter Lisa Myers scoop her colleagues on Friday night in reporting how the former Defense Secretary changed his voter registration from Texas to Wyoming. Electors from a state cannot vote for a President and Vice President from that same state.

On Meet the Press she explained how she discovered the development. NBC News colleague Pete Williams told her that as of Tuesday Cheney had not registered to vote in Wyoming, "so he gave me the number of the Teton County clerk's office."

Tim Russert: "Pete's a resident of Wyoming."

Myers: "Yes, and knows Wyoming well and knows the Cheneys well. And so I called them up and got a very nice woman by the name of Sharon Nethercott , and I said is Richard Cheney registered to vote there and she says yes. And I said when did he register and she said today. What she said was that he walked in that morning, filled out the card withdrawing his registration from Texas, moving it to Wyoming. I said could we get a copy of the card. She said nope, we've already mailed it. So they're efficient in Wyoming too."

For all her effort, Myers didn't even make it onto Friday's NBC Nightly News with her scoop, though anchor Brian Williams mentioned it. Myers did get onto MSNBC at just before 6:30p ET with her "breaking news."

As for how Williams "knows Wyoming well," Meet the Press viewers were not informed of the connection between Williams, who joined NBC News in early 1993, and Cheney. During the Gulf War Williams served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs under Cheney. In the late '80s, after ten years as a anchor and reporter for KTWO-TV in Casper, Wyoming, he had jumped to Cheney's congressional office as Press Secretary and Legislative Assistant to the then-U.S. Representative.

3

The McCain for VP boomlet of Friday had died down by Sunday, but it sure excited ABC's Cokie Roberts. On Friday she proclaimed "if he wants to win it's a good idea." On Sunday she called not choosing him a "political mistake."

Roberts came aboard the July 21 World News Tonight to discuss the McCain option with anchor Peter Jennings, whom she told: "...If Bush shies away from naming McCain when it looks like McCain wants the job then it makes Bush look weak, it makes it look like he's not up to picking a person who could overshadow him, who could have his own plans and who could attract his own voters. Does he want to win or does he want to be comfortable."

Jennings: "You get a yes or a no here. Will Bush pick McCain?"

Roberts: "Oh, that's not fair [laughs]. If he wants to win it's a good idea."

By Sunday, with the McCain boomlet dying, she rued on the July 23 This Week: "The Gore campaign was in a total panic on Friday. 'Please God let it not be true' and George Bush was basically saying the same thing, 'please God let it not be true.' I think that he thinks that he can win without McCain and that he just doesn't want to do it. He doesn't want to have somebody there that's making him unhappy and miserable all the time and could be stabbing him in the back and seizing the limelight, but boy I think it's a political mistake. I think those numbers are very striking numbers."

4

McCain for VP "landed in Texas with a thud" or "the Texas Governor did nothing to dampen it"? Depends if you watched CBS or NBC Friday night.

The July 21 CBS Evening News led with Bill Whitaker on the McCain possibility: "The hat John McCain seemed to throw back in the VP ring landed in Texas with a thud."

Bush: "I'm going to take time to make up my mind, I'm going to take my time, I'm taking my time, and I'll make up my mind and let you know."

But the NBC Nightly News story made the possibility of McCain seem more viable. Anchor Brian Williams declared that "reports that an old and bitter rival, John McCain, might be back in the running for Vice President have created a media frenzy and today the Texas Governor did nothing to dampen it."

David Gregory began his story: "On his ranch outside of Austin today Governor Bush refuses to say whether Senator McCain's change of heart means the Arizona Senator is now a leading contender for the number slot."

Bush: "I've heard there's a lot of speculation that goes on in the course of the vice presidential selection and John's a good man, he's a good friend of mine."

5

Regret over Bush's expected failure to name a "pro-choice" VP. World News Tonight anchor Elizabeth Vargas bemoaned how that decision opens up Bush to charges of promoting "the same old party," and on Inside Washington NPR's Nina Totenberg insisted it would "be smart" for Bush to defy his base.

-- On Saturday's World News Tonight, after a piece by Linda Douglass in which she listed Cheney, Danforth, Frank Keating and Chuck Hagel as the remaining VP possibilities, ABC analyst George Stephanopoulos assessed Danforth and Cheney:

"They're both clearly conservative, but have a reputation for working with Democrats. And what's also interesting, if you look at Linda's list, not a single candidate left on Linda's list who's pro-choice. Bush may have decided he just doesn't want to take that risk."

Anchor Elizabeth Vargas, apparently referring to conservative influence: "Possibly opening up charges of the same old party then?"

Stephanopoulos: "No question about it and Democrats might want to pounce on that but what Bush gets is he doesn't get any upset at the convention and he forestalls Pat Buchanan."

-- On Inside Washington NPR's Nina Totenberg urged Bush to pick Tom Ridge: "This looks increasingly like it's going to be a very close race. And while I don't think that the vice presidential choice will actually make a difference to voters per se, I think that he could, for the first time with his choice, actually say he's his own man by defying the base just a little bit with somebody like Tom Ridge. I don't think he'll do it, but that would be smart."

Like that kind of move would lead media liberals to actually vote for Bush.

6

Eleanor Clift, in full Clinton mode. Depends upon your definition of deceit. In a segment on the McLaughlin Group about the allegation that Hillary Clinton once referred to someone as a "Jew bastard," host John McLaughlin put on screen the text of a memo from Karen Adler, a Hillary campaign worker, to supporters:

"These are the names and numbers of the two reporters from the Jewish papers that are covering the Hillary story. I would appreciate it if you would call these people as concerned citizens. (It is important that you not say that you are calling because the campaign asked you to, but because you are outraged with what was said about her.) The most important thing is to let them know that you know Hillary and you know that she would never make these kinds of anti-Semitic or racist comments."

Despite the clear request to misrepresent who they were and to not say they were calling at the request of the campaign, Newsweek's Eleanor Clift maintained: "That's not lying. That's not volunteering information. There's a difference."

Clift showed there's a difference between an independent reporter and someone in the tank for a candidate. -- Brent Baker


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