NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell seized on Vice President Dick Cheney's false assertion during the vice presidential debate that he had never met Senator John Edwards before he "walked on the stage tonight"; Mitchell called the assertion "devastating" to Edwards. Immediately after the debate, she said on MSNBC, "Cheney did awfully well ... [p]utting John Edwards in his place, saying, 'I have been presiding over the Senate, and I didn't meet you until tonight.'" But Cheney had met Edwards before the debate, on at least three separate occasions: at a February 2001 Senate prayer breakfast, during an April 2001 taping of NBC's Meet the Press, and at Senator Elizabeth Dole's (R-NC) January 2003 swearing-in ceremony.
Moreover, Cheney's suggestion that he has gone to the Senate most Tuesdays in his capacity as Senate president is apparently misleading. National Public Radio (NPR) host Steve Inskeep noted on the October 6 broadcast of Morning Edition that "Cheney rarely meets any Democrats during his occasional forays into the Senate. NPR's [congressional correspondent] David Welna covers Congress and says Cheney usually comes to preside over a Republican lunch."
Here's what Cheney said during the October 5 debate:
CHENEY: You've got one of the worst attendance records in the United States Senate. Now, in my capacity as vice president, I am the president of Senate, the presiding officer. I'm up in the Senate most Tuesdays when they're in session. The first time I ever met you was when you walked on the stage tonight.
Here's what Mitchell said immediately after the debate:
MITCHELL: I think Dick Cheney did awfully well, first of all. Putting John Edwards in his place, saying, "I have been presiding over the Senate, and I didn't meet you until tonight." Talking about his [Edwards's] not having been on the job was pretty devastating. [MSNBC debate coverage, 10/5]