This is turning into the gift that keeps on giving. Not only did CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer get totally schooled by the Vice President’s wife last Friday in front of the whole nation, but now he’s actually saying that he was surprised by Lynne Cheney's behavior.
On CNN’s Late Edition Sunday, Blitzer set up a replay of the now famous interview with the following (video here):
I've been covering the Cheneys for many years, including on a day-to-day basis, when he was the defense secretary during the first Gulf War and I was CNN's Pentagon correspondent.
Mrs. Cheney has been a frequent guest on my programs. In recent years, I've often invited her to discuss her new children's books, but she always is open to discussing the news of the day.
He unashamedly continued:
In this most recent interview, she, of course, knew we would be speaking about politics. That was reaffirmed to her staff only hours before the interview.
As a former co-host of CNN's "Crossfire" program during the 1990s, she knows her way around the media. She was never shy in sparring with Democratic strategists Bob Beckel, her co-host.
Still, I was frankly surprised when she came out swinging on Friday, surprised by what she said about CNN's "Broken Government" series, specifically the excellent one-hour report by our chief national correspondent, John King, one of the most precise and respected journalists in Washington, and CNN's decision to air sniper video provided to our intrepid Baghdad correspondent Michael Ware by insurgents in Iraq, which Anderson Cooper specifically branded, and I'm quoting now, "a single propaganda tape;" surprised at her sniping at my patriotism.
Amazing. Let’s analyze this bit by bit. First off, Blitzer made it clear that Cheney “was never shy in sparring with Democratic strategists Bob Beckel, her co-host,” when she was on CNN's "Crossfire" years ago. As such, why would he be “surprised when she came out swinging on Friday?” That’s a contradiction.
This is particularly absurd given that Blitzer fired the first shot across the bow in the interview. Here’s how it began:
BLITZER: And joining us now, the wife of the vice president of the United States, Lynne Cheney, no stranger to CNN.
Thanks very much for coming in.
L. CHENEY: Thank you, Wolf, for having me.
BLITZER: And we're going to talk about this excellent new book, "Our 50 States: A Family Adventure Across America." This is a book that I recommend for all ages, and I see it's already a best-seller.
L. CHENEY: I'm very proud of this book. It was an effort of two years for Robin Glasser and me. And it was inspiring the whole time. It's a story of the whole country told by a family going on a road trip. And my grandchildren love it.
BLITZER: I want to get to that, all that. But I want to pick your brain a little bit on news that's happening right now, including your husband, the vice president.
He was interviewed earlier this week out in North Dakota and he had this exchange with a radio talk show host. Listen to this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP FROM RADIO PROGRAM, COURTESY WDAY)
So, after Cheney uttered a mere five sentences about her new book, Blitzer went right to a controversial audiotape of her husband, and said the following at its conclusion: “It made it sound -- and there's been interpretation to this effect, that he was, in effect, confirming that the United States used this water boarding, this technique that has been rejected by the international community that simulates a prisoner being drowned, if you will; that he was, in effect, supposedly confirming that the U.S. has been using it.”
Given this, and Cheney’s experience on “Crossfire”, why wouldn’t Blitzer have expected exactly the reaction from Cheney that he got? Frankly, given Blitzer’s familiarity with his guest and her experience on “Crossfire”, it seems quite disingenuous of him to state any surprise at all concerning her behavior. That’s akin to being shocked when the floor gets wet after you drop a glass of water.
Furthermore, how could Blitzer not have known that once he opened this can of worms, the CNN program “Broken Government”, as well as the airing of the terrorist sniper videos, were going to be raised by his guest? Did he feel that a former “Crossfire” host was going to allow him to bring up her husband and waterboarding without referring to the recent propaganda being aired by his network?
There’s an old expression: if you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. It seems that in this case, Blitzer met his match, and now he’s crying foul to his viewing audience.
Honestly, I’m not sure which is more disgraceful: Blitzer’s performance on Friday, or this cowardly plea on Sunday.