ABC’s Popularity Advice to Dick Cheney: Reach Out and ‘Talk to Doonesbury’

On Wednesday’s "Good Morning America," ABC reporters offered advice to Dick Cheney on how to resuscitate his "rock bottom poll numbers." The network featured clips from a Bush-bashing cartoon and correspondent Cokie Roberts even suggested that if the Vice President wants to change his image, he needs to do it on "Jon Stewart and maybe talk to Doonesbury."

The Claire Shipman-hosted segment, which played like a media victory lap over Cheney’s unpopularity, also featured snarky comments, such as this dig about the Vice President briefly taking over for George W. Bush during his colonoscopy in July:

Claire Shipman: "He was even acting president for a few hours during the President's recent colonoscopy. Did he dream about taking on Iran? No, he says. He wrote a letter for his grandkids and then made it public."

Additionally, ABC appears to be infatuated with "Lil’ Bush," Comedy Central’s liberal cartoon. Wednesday’s GMA, not for the first time, featured a clip from the program. Regarding Cheney’s more frequent appearances on radio and the new book written about him, Shipman wondered:

Shipman: "What gives? A blitz to boost his leaden poll numbers, to staunch the ubiquitous lampooning?"

[Clip from ‘Lil Bush’]

"Lil’" Dick Cheney "[Mumbles] October surprise."

"Lil’" George W. Bush: "He’s right!"

On June 14, 2007, ABC reporter Dan Harris also previewed the left-wing program on "Good Morning America":

Dan Harris: "That's Lil' George, the leader of the gang. There's also Lil' Rummy, Lil' Cheney, who barely talks and chews the head off chickens, and Lil' Condi, who has an unrequited crush on George."

[Clip: Lil' Cheney mumbles.]

Ms. Shipman closed her August 1 report by stating that the Vice President’s media blitz may not be effective because "his poll numbers are so low now, it's not clear he'll be an effective messenger, especially to the mainstream."

Not to worry, if Cheney’s poll numbers were to rise, GMA could always air more clips from "Lil’ Bush" to take care of such a problem.

A transcript of the August 1 segment follows:

7:12am

Robin Roberts: "Now to extreme make-over Cheney edition? Or is it? We’ve all noticed the normally reclusive Vice President has been all over the television and on radio the past few days. And it has people wondering, what's going on here? GMA's senior national correspondent Claire Shipman has more from D.C. So, what's going on here, Claire?"

Claire Shipman: "[Laughs] Good question, Robin. Well, look, given his rock-bottom poll numbers, he is hardly the person that Republican image-makers would choose to be the face of the administration these days. Everybody is wondering what the strategy is."

ABC Graphic: "What Does Cheney Want? Is VP Trying to Improve Image?"

Vice President Dick Cheney: "There are always things in war that happen that nobody anticipated. Surprises."

Shipman: "Suddenly, the vice president is everywhere. On Larry King–"

Cheney: "But that doesn’t mean the strategy isn’t, isn’t the correct strategy."

Shipman: "— in a new authorized bio."

Stephen Hayes (Author of Cheney): "He thinks that he’s got a job to do."

Shipman: "He was even acting president for a few hours during the President's recent colonoscopy. Did he dream about taking on Iran? No, he says, he wrote a letter for his grand kids and then made it public. ‘As I write this,’ it begins, ‘our nation is engaged in a war with terrorists of global reach.’ A bit on the somber side for kids, but he explained on national radio–"

Mark Knoller (CBS radio): "What did you say in that letter?"

Cheney: "A souvenir for them to have down the road some day."

Shipman: "What gives? A blitz to boost his leaden poll numbers, to staunch the ubiquitous lampooning?"

[Brief clip from ‘Lil Bush’]

Cheney "[Mumbles] October surprise."

Bush: "He’s right!"

[Clip ends]

Cokie Roberts (ABC News): "If he wants to change his image, he has to do it on David Letterman, Jay Leno, Jon Stewart and maybe talk to Doonesbury."

Shipman: "Well, that’s not going to happen. And Cheney insiders say this junket is nothing so ambitious. First of all, the VP doesn't take much to being molded."

Hayes: "Dick Cheney is not someone who sits at the vice president's residence at night and scratches his head and thinks, ‘Hmm, how can I go from 26 percent favorability to 37 percent favorability?’"

Shipman: "Not that his team hasn't tried to coach him. A few years ago, I was invited to his ranch to see the family man. His aides told me he complained about our invasion the whole time. The fact is, even today, whenever he speaks, he's always unapologetically Dick Cheney."

Larry King: "In retrospect, you would still go into Iraq?"

Cheney: "Yes, sir."

King: "So those 3,000-plus lives have not died in vain?"

Cheney: "No, sir."

Shipman: "Now, his team says the VP has simply gone public as part of an administration PR blitz on Iraq, an attempt to gain a little bit of momentum before the September report. But what's interesting is, while the Vice President has been dispatched to make an important case in the past for the administration and it's worked, his poll numbers are so low now, it's not clear he'll be an effective messenger, especially to the mainstream."

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org