Time magazine reports today that President George W. Bush “had to lean” on Vice President Dick Cheney to get him to go public about his shooting of a friend on a hunting trip last weekend. What Time didn’t tell you is that we reported that first here on Capitol Hill Blue.
Reports Nancy Gibbs and Mike Allen in the current issue of Time:
Bush had to lean on Cheney to talk publicly about the gun accident, but the real challenge for the two is how to get the Administration back on track.The daily intelligence briefing at the White House is a secret, serious affair, conducted each morning for the President in the Oval Office by the experts in charge of knowing as much as possible about as much as possible. The President routinely asks what’s going on in some of the darkest corners of the world. But last week George W. Bush’s concerns included what was going on in an office down the hall, where Vice President Dick Cheney had been lying low since shooting his friend Harry Whittington in a late afternoon quail hunt in Texas over the weekend. Not just the communications pros and the commentariat but Bush too understood that Cheney needed to get out there and tell his story, but the Vice President was still resisting. Until Cheney said something, Bush couldn’t talk to reporters either. There would be no other story, no other message than that the Vice President of the United States had accidentally shot a man and was refusing to talk about what had happened.
Cheney’s hastily-arranged interview with the Bush-friendly Fox News Channel came only after an angry President Bush ordered his recalcitrant Vice President to try and undo the damage of four days of silence on the shooting that left 78-year-old Texas lawyer Harry Worthington hospitalized in intensive care after one of the shotgun pellets reached his heart.
County Sheriff Ramon Salinas III was barbecuing in his back yard with his family at 5:30 p.m. Saturday when sheriff’s Capt. Charles Kirk called to report “a possible hunting accident at Armstrong Ranch.”
A few minutes later, a Secret Service agent called.
“He said the reason he was calling was to officially notify the sheriff’s department that the vice president was involved in that shooting accident,” Salinas said.
Kirk went to the Armstrong Ranch gate but was not allowed on the property. He called Salinas to report he was there with a U.S. Border Patrol agent who didn’t know what was going on.
CBS News the next day reported that sheriff’s deputies were not allowed on Armstrong ranch property and acted like it was a big scoop.
“This kind of thing happens all the time,” Thompson said today. “We get the story and it shows up later in some other media and they always seem to forget we had it first. We had the NSA spying story a year ahead of the New York Times. As usual, we got it first and we got it right.”