Cheney granted two hours of time, and then, voila, a month before the 2006 midterms, up popped Woodward on CBS's "60 Minutes" running tapes of the Cheney conversation for the Ford book as if he'd given his consent to being interviewed for "State of Denial." The scoop was that old Nixon hand Henry Kissinger had easy access to the Bush White House.
Hayes reports Cheney said he called Woodward and unleashed a "low-volume tirade," to which Woodward just responded: "It's on the record. It's on the record. It's on the record. Everything is on the record." Obviously, Cheney thought there were conditions in effect -- his comments were reserved for the Ford book for a later date -- but Woodward would concede nothing, so Cheney hung up on him.
Woodward used the same movable line when he talked to Hayes. He claimed Cheney had said "nothing about Ford could be used until I do my Ford book," but Woodward weaseled around it by establishing the rule in his own mind that unless Cheney used the words "Jerry Ford" in the sentence, it was all usable -- to help secure him a big splash on "60 Minutes." His lust for fame and fortune came first.
And he would milk it for all he could. A week after "60 Minutes," Woodward went on "Meet the Press" to insist that Cheney's anger at Woodward's ethics-schmethics behavior was symptomatic of Cheney's state of denial: "It's a metaphor for what's going on. Hang up when somebody has a different point of view or information you don't want to deal with."
Perhaps the most amusing media anecdote in the Hayes book is an e-mail sent to Cheney aide Kevin Kellems by Bill Keller, the executive editor of the New York Times. In his quest for access, Keller acknowledged the "liberal assumptions" of most journalists, but then claimed liberal bias in the Times was "relatively rare." (Break here for laughter.) Keller insisted to Cheney that he wouldn't want to be like Attorney General John Ashcroft and refuse interviews. Ashcroft, he warned, "still lives in the land of the stereotype."
To suggest to Dick Cheney that he wouldn't be stereotyped by liberals if he merely granted access to an unethical media that hates his conservative guts isn't helpful. It's a threat, a form of political blackmail. No wonder the vice president doesn't care for the press. Scary freedoms, indeed.
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