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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Cheney Speaks

Fox has played a first clip from the Brit Hume interview. Cheney was talking about privacy issues and why the local paper in Corpus Christi was contacted - says they contacted the local paper because Katherine Armstrong knew the reporter there and knew she was experience covering hunting matters.

Fox then spoke with Fred Barnes, who says that he feels Cheney mishandled this -- should have contacted national news.

Barnes says Brit should ask about sequence of events and why there was gap between incident and when the newspaper was called. And why Cheney did not call the WH press office himself. Says that

Second clip:
"Ultimately, I'm the guy who pulled the trigger. You can talk about all the conditions that existed at the time, but I'm responsible for what happened. It's a day I'll never forget." (That's me paraphrasing from the sound bite. C&L should have clips up soon and I'll link to it so you can see exactly what Cheney says here.)

Barnes says after the clip that hopefully the discussion of the sequence of events will flesh out just how responsible the Vice President really was. (In other words, Cheney will say he's responsible, while the Wurlitzer continues to blame the victim. Classy.)

Third clip:
Cheney talks about Whittington falling to the ground. Will never get it out of his mind. One of the worst days of my life at that moment. Guessing he was about 30 yards away when he was shot.

Barnes says not sure he consulted attorneys on this (after being prompted on this topic by Faux news host). Barnes says he probably talked with Armstrong on details to be sure he was accurate. (RH: Yeah, I bet he did.) Barnes says he needs to explain why the delay, take personal responsibility, and hope that Whittington doesn't take another turn for the worse.

Why do the sit-down today? Barnes says that WH press office angry that Veep hadn't taken care of this earlier. (This echoes what I heard from Bob Novak earlier on Fox, btw..."pissed at Cheney" meme continues.) Barnes says that it sounds like CHeney was "calling the shots" with media contacts (no pun intended).

Fourth clip:
Struck on the right side of his face, his neck, and the right torso. Ran over to Whittington who was laying on his back, bleeding, could see where the shot had struck him. Fortunately, had medical team with him -- always have one wherever Cheney goes -- and his physician's assistant was there to administer treatment. Cheney spoke with Whittington, and Harry did not respond. (That doesn't sound good.)

Barnes hits question as to why press wasn't notified immediately again. Fox says more to come at 6:00 pm ET. More tape may be forthcoming -- will try and report as I see it.

Brit Hume will be on Fox shortly to talk about the interview. Cheney apparently had no press people with him -- says it was a private hunting trip, so didn't bring anyone along.

Fifth Clip:
Katherine Armstrong was eyewitness, had hunted there all her life, says she was the past head of the Wildlife commission for the state of Texas, and she knew the local media people -- so Cheney thought that was the right call in getting the information out.

Demeanor is calm and not emotional in any of the clips I've seen.

Brit Hume on now.

Says Cheney is unapologetic on the information handling with press. Hume says public will likely be sympathetic to Cheney, given the way the Wshington Press Corps has been acting, but that's neither here nor there. (What a wanker!)

Played clip for the third time where Cheney says you can't blame Harry -- that Cheney is one who pulled trigger and shot his friend and that it is a moment he'll never forget. (This is clearly going to be the Fox News soundbite of the day. Sympathetic in verbage, but oddly distant in demeanor. Will be interested in people's comments on their take on Cheney here. He's perhaps a bit shaken, but really calm -- maybe all the interview prep has taken the edge off for him.)

Playing clip again of Cheney talking about Whittington falling to the ground.

Hume says that Cheney goes through in detail about why the decisions were made with regard to press contacts or lack thereof. Hume says he tried to ask as many reasonable questions as he felt fellow press folks would want to ask, especally if this is going to be Cheney's only press contact on this matter. Goes over medical concerns.

Whittington's wife was at the Armstrong ranch, and efforts made to immediately contact her to let her know Whittington had been shot and was on way to hospital and make arrangements to get wife to him. Goes through some of the timeline issues in the interview, apparently.

Hume goes over the press contact with local paper again. Shepherd Smith ask whether Cheney had any statement as to why he waited until today to make public statement. Hume says Cheney waited because he was concerned about Whittington's condition. Hume says Cheney has known Whittington since his work in the Ford White House -- a friendly acquaintence, but not a good friend.

Hume says he asked about leaving McClellan "out to dry," and Cheney said he thought McClellan was doing a good job, but no apologies.

Hume says Cheney said he had a beer at lunch -- that had been hours earlier -- no one was drinking. Went back to ranch, took a break for a few hours, and then went back out hunting at 3 pm. Says it was out of his system by the time they went back out. Cheney told Hume he had BBQ and a beer a lunch. (That should be an interesting point of discussion.)

Hume then goes on to say that people in America don't feel deprived that they found out about this on Sunday afternoon instead of on Saturday. "Not a question of cover-up." Private hunting accident made public because it was the Vice President who shot someone. If the Veep had been shot, it would have been another matter. (I'm sure the Whittington's appreciate that, Brit.)

The partisans are angry, of course, as usual, according to Hume. (RH: Because, you know, the fact that all the facts have been dribbling out now for days on end with nothing from Cheney directly until today is not odd in the least. *snerk*)

The interview ran 25 minutes in length -- they plan on running the interview at some length. Brit says he was transfixed while conducting the interview. (Yup, get out the nerf balls.)