Fox News' Brit Hume has gotten an interview with Vice President Dick Cheney about his hunting accident. Cheney calls it "one of the worst days" of his life. "I'm the guy who pulled the trigger and shot my friend," Cheney told Hume. But he stands by how the information was released and says he would release it in the same way again.
Cheney said he had no press people with him and thought letting the ranch owner, Katharine Armstrong, inform the local paper with the news was the right way to go. Fox analyst Fred Barnes disagreed, saying the VP should have had the ranch owner inform the AP.
"She was my witness," said Cheney, and she wanted to go to the local Corpus Christi paper. "I still think that was the right call," said Cheney, saying he had expected it to go from there to the Web and the wires.
Adding to speculation that his friend, Harry Whittington, 78, had been more seriously injured than initially suggested, Cheney said that Whittington did not respond immediately after the shooting when the vice president asked him if he was all right. Cheney did say he got first aid within minutes.
Cheney appeared shaken, and Hume confirmed that he seemed deeply affected by the incident. The VP said that neither he nor his hunting companions had been drinking.
Cheney had been urged recently by some Republicans, as well as many Democrats, to speak directly to, or through, the news media about the incident.
Information on the shooting was slow to be released, which has prompted news organizations, particularly a dissed-feeling White House press corp., to push for an answer to the delay.
That call grew louder after the White House was again late Tuesday in addressing a change in the victim's status after a pellet migrated to Whittington's heart and caused a minor heart attack.
According to Hume, Cheney said that his first priority was getting medical care, then contacting Whittington's wife and grown children, who might not want to find out about the shooting from TV reports.
Cheney didn't want a wrong first report, and so they waited until the next morning, when there would be a better handle on the injuries. Hume says he asked whether Cheney didn't anticipate a reaction to the delay and he said yes, but that he wanted the information that got out to be right.
Hume said he pressed the vice president on the wisdom of waiting. Cheney said he knew it was going to be a big deal, but he would not admit to having made a mistake in the handling of the reporting of the event.
CNN reported the interview, but in a piece not long after Fox aired excerpts, did not identify Fox as the source of the Cheney quotes it cited.