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Vote for Kerry, Vote for Terror

Reported by Judy - September 8, 2004 -

Fox News devoted plenty of time to Dick Cheney's claim that voting for John Kerry means "the danger is that we'll get hit again" by terrorists, bringing up the matter eight times in two hours today (Sept. 8) but the context for the outrageous remark favored Cheney and the Republicans.

Fox and Friends brought up the quote five times and Fox News Live with Jon Scott brought it up three times. The two shows also interviewed two Republicans and ZERO Democrats about Cheney's remarks.

The first time it came up during the 8 a.m. hour, Fox played the Cheney remark, but only summarized John Edwards' rebuttal that terrorism is not a Democratic or Republican issue but an American issue.

Fox and Friends co-host Steve Doocy also interviewed radical conservative Tony Blankley, Washington Times editorial page editor, who defended Cheney's statement as "the logical conclusion" of Bush's characterization of John Kerry's positions on Iraq as reactive and weak. Blankley also predicted Bush will win the election and described the Kerry campaign as in "chaos" with "two sets of warring staffers arguing with him over what he ought to be doing." No Democrat was asked to rebut Blankley's cheap shots.

Doocy asked Blankley about his appearance on a talk show with a Democrat who was "going nuts" about the smear boats. Blankley never identified the show or the Democrat, but said he "took it as a sign of desperation." Doocy never asked him for more details or questioned whether Blankley simply made up the incident to "prove" his point."

During Fox News Live, Kelly Wright, Washington correspondent, led off with Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge's warning that terrorists still want to attack the U.S. before the elections. (Jon Scott promoed the piece by saying Ridge warned Americans not to let their guard down just yet.) Wright did play both the Cheney and Edwards clip, but juxtaposing it with yet another Tom Ridge scare speech no doubt bolstered the credibility of Cheney.

For the second straight hour, Fox News featured a Republican discussing the Cheney statement with no live Democratic response. Scott paraphrased Cheney in his promo and added that "as you might expect," the Kerry campaign was not happy with the comment. In other words, don't pay any attention to what they say because you already know what they are going to say.

After the break interviewed Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas. Although Scott played both Edwards' and Cheney's statements, he interviewed no Democrat to counter Hutchison's statement that Kerry would have "a pretty lax approach" to terrorism and that, "We don't want somebody who is going to be weak really in relation to the war on terror." Rather than actually ask a question, Scott made a statement about Cheney's statement reflecting GOP criticism of Kerry known as someone who "sticks his finger into the political winds" to decide policy.

Then he brought up the Russian school attack so that Hutchison could remind viewers "what kind of people we are dealing with" and that this "is not an enemy that is going to respond to quiet diplomacy." Scott did not ask Hutchison when Kerry said he would use "quiet diplomacy" in dealing with terrorists themselves.

Fox slanted its coverage of Cheney's remarks in obvious and not-so-obvious ways. It offered Democrats no chance to rebut Republicans who appeared to "explain" Cheney's remarks and asked Republicans softball questions. More subtly, Fox News and Scott used another of Ridge's terror warnings and the Russian school disaster to remind viewers about the continuing threat of terrorism and thus make Cheney's statement more believable and more effective.