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Posted by on May 22, 2009 in Politics | 22 comments

The Curious Case of Liz Cheney

I’m glad I wasn’t the only one, because I’d begun to worry that the 2 to 3 Knob Creek to Folgers breakfast mixture was taking an early toll on me. Apparently it was not just my imagination, and as Steve Benen points out, Liz Cheney has been on virtually every television channel in the nation twenty-four hours per day for the last two weeks. I know that I personally caught her on CNN, Fox, ABC and MSNBC myself. And, as Benen points out, her visit to Morning Joe amounted to more than a guest interview.

That’s 12 appearances, in nine and a half days, spanning four networks. (On today’s “Morning Joe,” Liz Cheney was on for an entire hour — effectively becoming a co-host of the program.) And this is just television, and doesn’t include Liz Cheney’s interviews on radio or with print media.

The first thing to note here is that there is simply no valid criticism to be leveled at Liz Cheney for making these appearances. Like any other American who is interested in politics, she’s entitled to get out there on the soapbox and air her views with whoever will have her. And who doesn’t like defending their dad?

No, the real question here is what the networks are thinking, trotting out the daughter of a former VP this often and in such high profile appearances? After all, much like Hillary Clinton in 2000, what does she really have by way of credentials aside from her last name? Really not much more than John McCain’s daughter, aside from one position which she only got by virtue of her last name anyway. Yet both of them are being foisted off on the media consuming public like it was an exclusive interview with the Ghost of Elvis.

The major issue I have with Liz is her manners (or lack thereof) in the interview chair. Her appearance on Morning Joe, for example, was a classic example of the other spots she has done. A question is asked and Liz is given virtually forever to repeat the talking points issued by her father. Then a countering argument is asked for from another speaker. They manage to get three – or at most five – words out of their mouth and Liz jumps in, shouts them down, and begins parroting the same points over and over again. And the hosts pretty much uniformly fail to challenge her on her lack of understanding of debate. It’s like the worst of the abortion debates you’ve ever seen where the speakers just shout over and over, seeming to feel that their view will carry the day if only they can stop the other side from being heard at all.

As an aside to my Republican friends, I hear plenty of complaints about the young McCain daughter hitting the media circuits, but not so much about Liz eating up the air time.

What’s up, MSM folks? How is this a hot get for the morning circuit?

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  • Silhouette

    The relation to the number of appearances and her vehemence defending her father is in direct proportion to her justified fears that he will be behind bars soon.

    The more she talks, the more guilty it makes Dick look. We arent’ stupid you know.

  • rudi

    I like Joe S, but he’s pandering to his token audience with Liz Cheney. Maybe a true patroit like Juanyta Ortiz could have explained the W and Cheney vision better than his spokeswomen by injection. ;- )

  • CStanley

    As an aside to my Republican friends, I hear plenty of complaints about the young McCain daughter hitting the media circuits, but not so much about Liz eating up the air time.

    Um, maybe because Meghan McCain comes across as an airhead who’s a useful idiot for the left, while Cheney actually makes intellectual arguments to support her point of view? Plus, even if you claim it was just nepotism, she did have a position in the administration and speaks from first hand knowledge.

  • HemmD


    Come on, volume is not a valid argument. Maybe she and Mancow could go on Maddow’s show where an adult conversation would ensue. Old Joe riddles his show with over talking co-hosts and guests all the time, so it would be instructive to all if she was faced with facts. Facts like Mancow’s recent conversion from believer that water boarding is not torture to six seconds of actual experience of water boarding.

    That’s all it took to him to see the truth, and all the shouting from the Cheney clan won’t change that.

  • Shaun here. I’m getting some sort of weird-assed Disqus comment box that I’ve never seen, so this comment will hopefully go through . . .

    As I wrote today at my own blog, my thoughts keep drifting to our first foray to the beach of the season this weekend, but I just can’t shake the horror that was the mainstream media “reaction” to the Cheney-Obama national-security cage match on Thursday. And its fawning obeisance to Liz Cheney, who is her father in a pants suit.

    Lest I not be clear, as highly unusual as it was I think the former vice president had every right to defend at length the Bush torture regime, although I subscribe to the view that his out-of-the-bunker road show since the Obama inauguration is on ongoing effort to inoculate himself against possible future legal action and not just the work of a bald-faced saboteur. His daughter has no such standing or right.

    But what keeps bothering the hell out of me is that a news media that was deeply complicitous in allowing Bush administration excesses — from an immoral war to assaults on the rule of law — to go substantially unchallenged once again rolled over in viewing the dueling speeches as a “debate.”

    Lincoln-Douglas was a debate. Cheney-Obama most certainly was not. But by framing it as such, that complicit media tacitly endorses the former vice president’s view that the administration did not torture and to declare its extreme interrogation methods as such is to libel the torturers . . . er, proud professionals.

    At the end of the day the former veep won the day by successfully framing the day in his terms and not even a long soak in the ocean is going to wash that reality away.

  • jwest

    “The major issue I have with Liz is her manners (or lack thereof) in the interview chair.”

    I would like to challenge the TMV readers and authors to review the Liz Cheney interviews this weekend via YouTube and render a judgment as to her manners. This will be a good gauge of intellectual honesty.

    Jazz, you have written some things that I disagree with, but this article is the first that makes me think you’re not up to the challenge of critical thought. Liz Cheney was shouting down people? I have reread your article twice and notice that Lawrence O’Donnell isn’t mentioned, although he has appeared a number of times in the same segments. Since you fail to write a word about him, I assume you agree with his interview style and manners.

    Is this article really your opinion? Were you looking for acceptance from the liberals by writing this sort of drivel? What will people think of your reasoning skills after reading this?

    Leave the insanity to Shaun Mullen, he has a patent on it. And before you write, think.

  • CStanley

    I haven’t seen the Morning Joe segment that Jazz refers to but I have to say that I was surprised by the way he characterized her ‘manners’ after having seen her on several other shows (a couple of clips were posted here a week or two ago, for instance.) In the segments I saw, she was not at all ‘ill mannered’, never raised her voice even though the interviewer was clearly out of line several times, and was extremely articulate in stating her positions. I will say that she seems pretty aggressive in using her time to answer questions without allowing interruptions- but since when is that bad form, particularly when interviewers so often shout down their subjects and cut them off before they can give complete responses? Maybe we need to rethink our expectations of mannerly interviewing- because to me, most of the time the offense is on the part of the ‘journalists’, not the guests, when questions are not permitted to be responded to. I’m not saying that interviewees should be allowed to filibuster or have their responses unchallenged, but it seems to me that in our ADHD world we keep getting these two minute spots where the ‘journalists’ have an agenda and make sure that they don’t allow the interviewee to go off script.

    So, I guess I’m with jwest in wondering what’s up with Jazz in this interpretation, but I’ll try to check out that particular segment to see if there’s any justification for what he’s saying. Frankly though, since I’ve seen several interviews with her that were very well done (on her part), even if this one was an exception then I certainly don’t think that justifies singling her out for criticism since I can think of dozens of examples of people who CONSTANTLY bluster their way through interviews.

    • My my my…. leave you bunch of scamps alone in a comments thread for a couple of days and you’re worse than a sewing circle! Anyway, on to the bones of contention.

      Some clever work by our more conservative readers in this thread on a few counts, but I’m afraid not quite clever enough. (Bonus points for trying, though!) First of all, there is the false attitude that I was somehow trying to compare Meghan McCain to Liz Cheney. I *mentioned* Meghan only because of the one thing they seem to share in common… the fact that there is little to recommend them for all of the air time they are getting aside from their last names. Neither of them merits it, so you can stop pretending I’m out here flogging McCain’s little girl.

      As to Liz’s resume, which you’ve highlighted in such detail… very nice. She should be proud of her education and work background. Again, though, it’s nothing that you wouldn’t find on the resume of tens if not hundreds of thousands of mid level functionaries in America for the most part. The real highlights, obviously, are getting her feet under the table at the State Department and working for Dick Armitage, who has been thick as thieves with Cheney for ages. Are any of you honestly going to say she’d have gotten within a block of the door for either of those positions had her name not been Cheney? And what did she accomplish in those positions aside from “being there”?

      As to the manners question, there has been one link posted here to a YouTube clip of Liz on GMA for six minutes. And even in that, as Stockboy points out, she was cutting off people who disagreed with her in less than two minutes. That was nothing, however, compared to her stint on Morning Joe… twice. Each time we watched a question be put to her and everyone sitting there quietly and politely while she went on and on with her answer. Than a counterpoint followup question was put to somebody else on the panel with a different view and they didn’t get twenty words out of their mouth before Cheney was cutting them off. That’s not a case of being “aggressive in using her time to answer questions without allowing interruptions.” That’s just dominating all of the time by rudely cutting off anyone who has other viewpoints and “shouting people down” even if you’re not raising your voice to Geraldo Rivera levels to do so.

      But after doing more reading, I think I see what’s got a bee in your collective bonnets. There is apparently some buzz going around now about Liz riding her dad’s coattails and taking a run at higher office. So, of course, anyone who isn’t worshiping at her feet must be silenced. Got it. Thanks.

  • SteveK

    jwest said: “Leave the insanity to Shaun Mullen, he has a patent on it. And before you write, think.”

    Your completely off topic, totally inappropriate attack on another poster (one who isn’t even participating in this thread) leads one to believe that the ‘j’ in ‘jwest’ might very well stand for jerk as that’s how your comment reads.

    Childish ad hominem does nothing to help your position or point of view.

    • jwest


      Bite me. There is not a word or phrase or insult that would come close to being appropriate for Shaun.

      If I responded in kind to one tenth the crap he posts on this site, Gandelman would need to hose it down nightly.

  • EEllis

    You may disagree with her but Cheney seems very smart and knowledgeable. It seems reasonable to have her on seeing as she clearly knows the subjects and could be inferred to have some knowledge of her fathers opinions. Only reason I can see to slam her in particular is because she might be effective.

  • StockBoySF

    The YouTube video jwest provided a link to DOES show Liz Cheney interrupting and speaking over Lawrence O’Donnell (at about time mark 1:45). Whether you consider this to be bad manners is another thing.

    The thing about the video… Liz used her background as a former State Dept. official to give her credibility, but she was on as a daughter defending her dad, the former VP. This probably makes more viewers more sympathetic to her dad (and her). If she had defended the “former Vice President Dick Cheney” then people would think of Cheney as a villian….. But since she defended her “dad”… how can one not help but feel empathy (or sympathy) for dads and their daughters who defend them? Clever (and smart) tactic. Much better than defending “ex-Vice President Cheney”. In fact the title of the video is, “Liz Cheney Defends Her Dad on Torture”.

    As far as CStanley’s comment about Meghan McCain coming across as an airhead and Liz Cheney coming across as more articulate… I agree. Though I will point out that if the American people are expected to take Sarah Palin seriously as a VP, then why can’t people take Meghan McCain seriously for her views? Meghan isn’t even running for anything. Meghan is just being a real person who is more in tune with the average American than Palin. Or any of the Cheney lot for that matter.

    I like Meghan McCain and why not? She’s putting herself out for public criticism by saying what she wants to. She’s not even trying to score points as a politician running for office or getting some economic gain. And HER DAD isn’t likely to be prosecuted for war crimes. Meghan McCain may come across as an airhead to some people, but at least what she says is honest. I prefer honesty (in whatever form) any day of the week over clever articulateness to cover up misdeeds and possible crimes.

  • EEllis

    Come on Stockboy he (Lawrence O’Donnell) was more aggressive and interrupted much more than she did and at a higher volume. He made three points and then She interrupted to address those points. She acted and came off as much more professional than he did. We are not given the link to the show the poster references but in what we saw the complaints are absurd.

  • Cut and pasted from Wikipedia on Liz Cheney:

    “Prior to attending law school, Cheney worked for the State Department for five years and the U.S. Agency for International Development between 1989 and 1993. After 1993, she took a job at Armitage Associates LLP, the consulting firm founded by Richard Armitage, then a former Defense Department official and Iran-Contra operative who later served as Deputy Secretary of State.

    After graduating from law school, Cheney practiced law in the private sector (at the law firm of White & Case) and as an international law attorney and consultant at the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group. She has also served as Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of State for Assistance to the former Soviet Union, and as a USAID officer in U.S. embassies in Budapest and Warsaw.[3]”

    1) This is the individual who Jazz Shaw compares with Mehgan McCain, whose most notable achievement to date is her proclamation that she’s proud of her fat juicy ass.

    2) Add in Jazz Shaw’s false claim that Liz Cheney behaved rudely in the interviews, a claim that, if true, could easily have been backed up by a minute of Googling to obtain the pertinent YouTube links. Those links – not provided by Jazz Shaw – were provided by a subsequent poster, and they decisively disproved Jazz Shaw’s claim.

    Conclusion #1: Jazz Shaw attempt to get away with spreading falsehoods about Liz Cheney was an EPIC FAIL.

    Conclusion #2: The FTC will soon enact an truth-in-blog-titles regulation, which will compel a change in this blog’s title from Moderate Voice to: Unthinking Liberals & the Squishes Who Love Them.

  • Section 9

    What sophmoric, petulant whining on the part of Jazz Shaw.

    Liz Cheney shows that she has the stones to go on MSNBC and hand Larry O’Donnell his head in his hand and the Left starts whining about manners? Please. Where were you people when Bush was being compared unfavorably to Hitler?

    I want to see the episode where Liz turns Olbermann into a new member of the Vienna Boys Choir. Now THAT will be worth my monthly subscription to DirectTV!

  • Addendum: My earlier clip from Wikipedia failed to cover Liz Cheney’s later positions in the State Department, including – starting in February, 2005 – “Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State For Near Eastern Affairs.”making her “the second-ranking U.S. diplomat for the Middle East.”

    See the link I provided above.

  • blueman9000

    Liz Cheney was a fairly high ranking government official.

    Megan McCain hasn’t held a real job in her life.

  • Shootist

    Quote from the article, “After all, much like Hillary Clinton in 2000, what does she really have by way of credentials . . .”

    After all, much like Barack Hussien Obama in 2004, what does she really have by way of credentials?

  • EEllis

    Show it Jazz. On the posted link Cheney was by far the more profesional and polite of the two speakers. Really the worst thing you got on her is her last name.

  • middleagedmessenger

    Liz Cheney is a intelligent & accomplished person, certainly far, far more so than lightweights such as Meghan McCain and Jazz Shaw.

    1) Shaw compared Cheney to McCain, got caught with that blatant bit of dishonesty, and then tried, and failed, to wriggle his way out of it with his latest post.

    2) When his false claim that Cheney was rude was refuted by actual video evidence, Shaw simply offered more assertions, rather than the pertinent YouTube clips (for the obvious reason.) But Shaw’s assertions have already proven untrustworthy.

    3) So all we are left with is an ungrounded and unreasoning resentment by Jazz Shaw, who is apparently scandalized that Liz Cheney would defend her father on national TV,


    4) The fact that Jazz Shaw does not feel an internal tug to be honest in argument, when talking about the facts and character of those he resents.

  • CStanley

    Jazz, do you really mean to suggest that anyone who disagrees with your general opinion of Liz Cheney must have an agenda? You asked what I thought was a legitimate question, why Republicans aren’t as negative toward Cheney’s public appearances as some of us have been toward Meghan McCain, and quite frankly I think the comparison itself (not our reactions) is pretty absurd. Sure, both women are the daughters of politicians. And I didn’t claim that Liz Cheney didn’t get where she was without family connections- I’m quite sure that was a factor, just as it was for oh, say half of Washington DC.

    But when it comes to each of these women having some background to speak about issues, there’s just no comparison between Cheney’s knowledge and Meghan McCain’s pop culture, campaign trail experience. It’s ludicrous to say that Republicans are inconsistent to react to the two women in different ways.

    And finally, as others here have pointed out, you fail to provide a link to the Morning Joe segment that got your nose so out of joint. Your assertion about her being rude, so it’s your burden of proof. Don’t blame us for pointing to the other segments where we have seen her giving an interview in a calm but assertive manner, and finding her in that sense a credible spokesperson for her viewpoint. I don’t happen to agree with a lot that she defends (I think a much more interesting part of the story is that Cheney himself was largely repudiated toward the end of the Bush administration.) I also see the interviewers often missing legitimate rebuttal points- but I don’t see any evidence that they’re missing their opportunity because she’s bullying them- instead, I see what I often see, journalists who came with a few talking points but really don’t know the subject matter enough to probe at the weak arguments that might be advanced by the subject or to redirect questions that aren’t given a straight answer.

  • aluceo

    The recent appearances of the Cheneys over the media as a credible political opponent on par to the Obama administration’s policies and stances raises an issue of journalistic deontology! This is definitely of artificial making. On the one hand, we’ve got a legitimately elected President of the United States who has undergone the rigorous electoral process having to make his case to the American people and coming out successful in eliciting the policies he intends to carry out during his mandate within the confines of the American political institutional structure and process. On the other hand, we’ve got political personae (the Cheneys) who are effectively being presented by the media as a legitimate opponent on par to the Obama administration whereas they do not bear any electoral mandate whatsoever for the political views they profer and with no consequent responsiblity, stake and risk that will arise from any such mandate while the President is tied to them.
    The latest case in point, is Liz Cheney’s appearance on the Scarborough Show with her critical and undermining views of the President presented in effect as critical views to the Obama speech delivered in Egypt under the disguise of expressing her opinions. For comments/expressions of opinion on the President’s policies, her views as well as those of her father have been given such a broad artificial reception by the media that runs very contrary to the expression of opinion as we’ve come to know it. These views are rather given almost the same weight and placed on par as the political stances of a legitimately elected president with a legitimate mandate for the policies he is undertaking while the Cheney’s hold no such legitimate mandate and with no accompanying political accountability whatsoever. The issue here is that such attitude by the media is contrary to what we’ve come to expect from normal implicit democratic rules. If the Cheneys had any pretense for policies they wished to be implemented after the Bush Administration, the solution would have simply been for Dick or Liz to run for president. Since they didn’t, it is artificial for the media to strive to present them as a counterweight on par to the Obama administration’s policies well beyong what will be expected for the opinion of a simple citizen that the Cheneys are now notwithstanding their previous political roles. And by the way, by extension is it acceptable that any citizen, no matter what self-righteous pretense they might have, to be artificially given a similar counterweight role on par with the President on any policy issues of the Obama administration while not holding any legitimate political mandate for which they will be politically accountable for their stances? It can be understandable, that the Cheneys can be of direct concern when it comes to matters of direct relation to political issues having to do with Cheney’s role in the Bush administration. But to raise their views on the policies and stances the administration should take on par with the President undermines appropriate journalistic deontology because as we should all know by now “elections do matter”.
    What strikes the mind here is that the Cheneys have perfectly understood this “naïvété” of the media and are using this “media confusion about fairness” to artificially strive to extirpate Mr. Dick Cheney from accusations of introducing torture policies during the Bush Administration among other political accusations. Their strategy is very simple. Legally, Cheney can’t make it (they know that secretly). In all courts of law, so-called EITs are definitely torture practices. Besides, the facts as we know them are overwhelmingly against him and the Bush Administration, and Dick Cheney’s contradictions are extensive. The real strategy of the Cheney’s here is totally otherly: turn it “political”. First, saying torture works and was for the good of the country should elicit the fervour of many Americans. Afterall, all what is needed is that a substantial number of Americans polled buy to this argument, and then the issue’s legal underpinning may be undermined. Secondly, posing artificially as the right wing counterweight to the Obama’s administration policies elicits the impression and fervour in some quarters particularly to the right that he is making the President moderate and thus he is political useful. A look at this second political trick shows how the media has effectively been manipulated: knowing fairly well that in his administrative role the President will have to take practical and pragmatic postures with respect to the release of photos of abused detainees as well as on other policies, all what Dick simply have to do is to posit that he is against releasing the pictures and pretend to take critical policy issues postures on the right, making him seemingly a moderating influence on the President. Thirdly, the Cheneys simply have to claim that Obama is following the Bush Administration’s policies he criticized pointing to his strategies in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo. In this case too, the media is manipulated as they ignore the fact that the Obama administration does not have the luxury of starting from scratch as Bush had on all these issues but rather adopts a “course correction strategy” of the situations to bring them as close as possible to what he advocates. The fact is that, the underlying strategy of Dick and her daughter is to make this three steps political trick extirpate Dick from the accusations levied against the former administration. The sad thing is that the media is “naïvely” falling for these political tricks!

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