Time: Cheney delayed hunting news

The magazine says the vice president resisted White House efforts to get a report out sooner.

By Tim Grieve
Published February 14, 2006 5:07PM (EST)

Relying on the word of several "Republican sources," Time is reporting that Vice President Dick Cheney played an active role in delaying news reports that he had shot a fellow hunter.

According to the magazine, White House press secretary Scott McClellan was not told of Cheney's involvement in the shooting until 6 a.m. Sunday, at which point, a Time source says, McClellan began pushing hard to have the information released immediately. "But that did not happen right away," Time says. Instead, the magazine reports, "Cheney insisted on carrying out a strategy he had worked out with the ranch owner, Katharine Armstrong, in which she was to call a trusted reporter at the local paper, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, to disclose the news."

Armstrong began calling the reporter around 8 a.m. Texas time but did not connect with him until around 11 a.m., Time says. The Caller-Times finally posted the news on its Web site just before 2 p.m. Texas time -- nearly nine hours after McClellan started pushing for its release and nearly a full day after the incident occurred.

Armstrong and the White House have put out conflicting stories about Cheney's involvement in spinning the news. As Media Matters has noted, Armstrong, the Bush-Cheney Pioneer who hosted the hunt, told CNN that she did not believe that the vice president's office was aware that she was going to report the incident to the local press. At his press briefing Monday, McClellan said that Cheney "spoke with [Armstrong] directly, and they agreed that she would make it public."

"So you're saying that she is lying, that her statement is not correct?" a reporter asked McClellan. "No," he said, "you ought to check with her."

If Time is right, McClellan's account is closer to the truth: Cheney wasn't just aware of the plan to call the local press; he had "worked out" that "stragegy" with Armstrong himself, then ran interference when others tried to get the news out sooner.

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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