MSNBC and CNN Jump to Showcase Time Mag Cover with Cheney Under Dark Cloud

Time magazine's cover story image as reality? Displaying a mini-instance of pack journalism, MSNBC and CNN shows on Thursday afternoon and night pounced on Time magazine's cover story, “The Verdict on Cheney” beside a picture of Cheney under some dark clouds, as evidence Cheney's influence is declining in the White House in the wake of the Scooter Libby verdict. It may be, but the graphics on a magazine cover hardly proves it. Plugging an interview with Michael Duffy, the author of the cover story, MSNBC's Chris Matthews asserted on Hardball: “More coming here about amazing problems facing the Vice President. He's on the cover of Time magazine as we speak and it looks bad.”

On CNN's Paula Zahn Now, Zahn trumpeted how “tonight we're bring out into the open Vice President Cheney's downhill slide” which is “not pretty” and is illustrated by, as she instructed viewers, “Look at the cover of the new Time magazine: The Vice President under a dark cloud. The headline: 'The Verdict on Cheney.' The story inside even brands him as 'the enemy within' the White House, dragging the whole administration down with him." Over on MSNBC's Countdown at the same 8pm EST hour, fill-in host Alison Stewart highlighted how “special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald referred to the quote, 'cloud over the Vice President' in his summation at the Libby trial. The folks at Time magazine painting that cloud over Mr. Cheney quite literally in their art for the new cover story, going as far as to call him quote, 'one of Bush's biggest liabilities.'"

“Cheney In Twilight” reads the table of contents headline for the Time.com posting of the story in the March 19 edition of the magazine to be released on Friday, a title which is also displayed as the headline over the story inside the hard copy of the magazine. The summary for the article: “Bush chose him because he was safe and sound. But the Libby trial spotlighted a Vice President whose overbearing style has become one of the Administration's biggest problems.”

As recounted in a NewsBusters posting by Geoffrey Dickens, Thursday's Today show featured the Time cover as Meredith Vieira inquired of Tim Russert:
“Friday's issue of Time magazine is gonna feature a cover story on the Vice President. It's written by Michael Duffy. And among other things Duffy writes, 'Cheney has become the administration's enemy within, the man whose single-minded pursuit of ideological goals, creaking political instincts and love of secrecy produced an independent operation inside the White House that has done more harm than good.' You understand the workings of the White House. What is your reaction to that assessment?"
Zahn's intro in full for her March 8 segment, with Time's "Cheney in Twilight" two-page spread displayed on screen:
“Tonight we're bring out into the open Vice President Cheney's downhill slide. The perjury and obstruction of justice verdicts this week against his ex-Chief-of-Staff, Scooter Libby, is focusing more attention on the Vice President this week more than ever and it's not pretty. Look at the cover of the new Time magazine: The Vice President under a dark cloud. The headline: 'The Verdict on Cheney.' The story inside even brands him as 'the enemy within' the White House, dragging the whole administration down with him.”
Alison Stewart teased at the top of Countdown, with the cover displayed on screen:
“Once a revered decision and policy-maker in the White House's inner-circle, now not so much. A look at the role of the Vice President. Is Dick Cheney, as Time magazine points out, indeed the enemy within?”
Stewart set up the subsequent segment:
“Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald referred to the quote, 'cloud over the Vice President' in his summation at the Libby trial. The folks at Time magazine painting that cloud over Mr. Cheney quite literally in their art for the new cover story, going as far as to call him quote, 'one of Bush's biggest liabilities.'”
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center