View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Wednesday, July 23, 2003

The Denver Post, ahead of the curve as always, has a discussion of what it presumes to be Vice President Cheney's role in "cooking" intelligence reports. This was judged by the paper's editors to be more important than the actual death of two actual sons of an actual former dictator. Aside from the too-knowing discussion of "neocons" in the Administration, lacking only references to Leo Strauss, the reporter spends a great deal of time on Cheney's public appearances promoting the administration's policy, especially the now-infamous March 16th interview on Meet the Press. In it, you may recall, Cheney says that Iraq "has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons." Oh, you don't recall?

One of the coolest things about being in school is the access to LexisNexis, and one of the coolest things about LexisNexis(TM) Academic, is its transcripts of news reports. I'm sure newsrooms all over the country, even those at the Denver Post Washington Bureau, have access to LexisNexis. I'm less sure about their willingness to do basic research before rushing into print to parrot the latest Democratic criticisms. So, to help them out, here are some other quotes (full sentences only, thank you) from that interview:

We know he's out trying once again to produce nuclear weapons and we know that he has a long-standing relationship with various terrorist groups, including the al-Qaeda organization.

Well, I think I've just given [our rationale for war], Tim, in terms of the combination of his development and use of chemical weapons, his development of biological weapons, his pursuit of nuclear weapons.

He's had years to get good at it and we know he has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.

What do you think he meant? Listening to he show, what would you have thought he meant? I know what Tim Russert thought. Tim Russert went right onto a question about the 2000 campaign. Here's this bombshell, this wild statement, that Saddam had a nuclear weapon, and Tim Russert, the sharpest knife in the interview drawer, goes right on with the script. And that's why you didn't recall this comment until it was brought to you attention. Because you, Tim Russert, and everyone else listening knew exactly what Dick Cheney was talking about. Because in the next two weeks, exactly two broadcasts referred to this as though Cheney was suggesting Saddam already had the bomb - one NPR commentary by Daniel Schorr, and one interview by Paula Zahn. That's it, that's the list. Print journalists were even quieter. Only one article, in the Washington Post, picked up on the comment.

Someone might suggest that I'm being unfair to the Post, that I'm picking on one comment, albeit an extended one, in a much larger article. Well, inasmuch as they're picking on one statement in a very broad case against Saddam, they might want to consider that themselves.

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