On September 29, the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign issued two attacks against Senator John Kerry for statements he made during an interview that morning on ABC's Good Morning America. Immediately after Kerry's interview, the Bush camp emailed reporters, attacking Kerry for incorrectly stating the time of day at which he made the following statement: "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it." And at a mid-morning town-hall meeting, Vice President Dick Cheney grossly distorted what Kerry told Good Morning America about his position on the Iraq war. While the media paid ample attention to the Bush campaign's attack on Kerry for saying he made a six-month old statement at night rather than at noon, the vice president's distortion of Kerry's statements on the war was almost completely ignored.
Only the September 29 edition of "Noted Now," ABC News' "Up-to-the-Minute Political News Digest," reported Cheney's distortion of Kerry's statements:
CHENEY DISTORTS KERRY'S DIANE SAWYER INTERVIEW: " ... when asked if he, knowing everything he knows now, would he have voted the way he did then. He said 'yes'. This morning Diane Sawyer interviewed him on 'Good Morning America,' and asked the same question, knowing everything you know now, would you have voted that way, and he said 'no'. He's changed his mind on many occasions," Vice President Cheney says in Duluth, MN.
- WHAT KERRY WAS ACTUALLY ASKED: "Was the war in Iraq worth it?"
- WHAT KERRY REALLY SAID: "It was a mistake to do what he did," Kerry said, referring to President Bush's decision to start the war. "But we have to succeed now that we've done what he's - I mean look - we have to succeed."
On the other hand, media flocked to report the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign's "noon" retort:
- From an Associated Press article that was published nationwide: "According to press reports of the appearance, Kerry made the remarks around noon. Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt suggested that maybe Kerry was on 'Paris time.'" [Associated Press, September 29]
- CNN host Paula Zahn: "John Kerry addressed the flip-flop issue by trying to clarify his line that he had voted for $87 billion in funding for U.S. troops before he voted against it. ... Actually, Kerry made two stops in West Virginia that day. In March, he used the 'for and against' line during the afternoon event, not the night event, which the Republicans have made a big deal of today." [Paula Zahn Now, CNN, September 29]
- CNN host Judy Woodruff: "And another angle to the flip-flop dispute. Kerry commented today on his line that he voted for $87 billion in funding for U.S. troops in Iraq before he voted against it. Kerry acknowledged that he didn't speak clearly back in March during an appearance in West Virginia, but he said that he spoke, quote, 'late in the evening' when he was, quote, 'dead tired.' Well, the Bush camp quickly responded that that primary season event was held around noon, to which the Kerry camp fired back, 'The Bush campaign would rather debate time of day than policy.' There you go." [Inside Politics, CNN, September 29]
- FOX News Channel host Sean Hannity: "[H]e [Kerry] was asked this morning to explain this silly comment, 'I actually voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it.' And his answer was, 'It was just a very inarticulate way to say something. I had one of those inarticulate moments late in the evening,' blah, blah, blah. But it turns out he actually made that remark at a noontime appearance at Marsh University. Is he lying and making false excuses? [Hannity & Colmes, FOX News Channel, September 29]
- FOX News Channel chief political correspondent Carl Cameron: "But before and after Kerry voted in favor of war authorization, he repeatedly called Saddam a threat based on the intelligence. Later he opposed the $87 billion for Iraqi reconstruction. Kerry knows he must better explain this infamous gaffe. ... Except, it wasn't a late-night rally. It was 1:20 in the afternoon." [Special Report with Brit Hume, FOX News Channel, September 29]
- NBC News White House correspondent Norah O'Donnell: "He [Kerry] was asked why he made that comment. I voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it. He said to Diane Sawyer, well, I was very tired. I made it late at night. In fact, he made it at a noontime rally. And so the Bush campaign said he must have been checking Paris time on his watch. It's a low blow, but it is sort of the mocking that they have done of Senator Kerry to great effect. Making fun of him in a way that resonates perhaps with voters. And it is part of the skill that they've used." [Hardball, MSNBC, September 29]
- Syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh: "First thing I want to know is if he did this late at night because he's using tired as the excuse here. ... My videographer and producer there, Cookie Prayias, has just told me that this event took place in the afternoon." [The Rush Limbaugh Show, September 29]