"I don't buy that we did it wrong," ]Ms. Matalin] said. "But I do understand that every day over there is like walking up a mountain with bricks in your backpack, and when something starts the beasts not just growling but flinging themselves against their cages, I feel bad about that, and it's not a good day for [Scott McClellan]."First, it's official: the Times has declared that this story has "completed its trajectory" (perhaps not the most felicitious metaphor for a story about a hunting accident, eh?)
Second, it's all about the struggles of Mary to get the story out:
Mary Matalin, Vice President Dick Cheney's longtime troubleshooter, was sleeping in last Sunday when the phone jangled her awake at 8 a.m. She groggily picked it up to hear, 'The vice president shot somebody, and he's O.K.' "Oh, by the way, remember the flap about Dick Morris being in the White House giving Clinton poll numbers? Well, that's all behind us now. Mary Matalin speaks for Mr. Cheney. But she doesn't work there:
"And I said," Ms. Matalin recounted, " 'Can I get a cup of coffee?' "
Ms. Matalin, 52, is now the editor in chief of Threshold Editions, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, and is publishing a book by the vice president's other daughter, Mary Cheney, this spring.But, hey, a friend in need is a friend indeed, right?
The group decided that rather than going "into the belly of the beast," as Ms. Matalin described a vice presidential news conference in the White House briefing room, Mr. Cheney would appear on a favorite outlet, Fox News. Ms. Matalin hastily made the arrangements for the interview with Brit Hume later that day, when Mr. Cheney took full responsibility for shooting his friend.I think we can safely say that position is already taken, and Ms. Matalin guards it jealously.
She was on the Don Imus radio program the next morning, and promptly got into a heated argument about Mr. Cheney with the host.
"He didn't shoot Harry on purpose, but you're handling this horribly and you're just trying to spin me," Mr. Imus said, adding that he wanted to know why the vice president had a beer at the ranch at lunch, as Mr. Cheney told Fox News.
"What are you, his nanny?" Ms. Matalin shot back.
But the imortant thing is, she's really, really sorry about the way she handled the story:
On Friday, she retreated to the weekend farm she shares with her two daughters and her husband, the Democratic strategist James Carville. It had been, she said, a horrible week. She also took blame for the pounding Mr. McClellan took in the briefing room.What with Cheney being so "Harry-centric" (her word) after the shooting, it was just hard all around.