FOX News Channel managing editor and chief Washington correspondent Brit Hume bolstered a deceptive Bush-Cheney '04 campaign attack on Senator John Kerry's voting record on military spending by drawing a false distinction between Kerry's Senate votes to cut military spending and Vice President Dick Cheney's proposals to cut spending during his time as President George H.W. Bush's defense secretary. Hume claimed that while Kerry voted for cuts during the Cold War, Cheney proposed similar cuts only "at a much later stage" after "the Berlin Wall had fallen and the world was a different place." In fact, the votes that Republicans have used to malign Kerry's voting record (often misleadingly and with the assistance of conservative pundits, as Media Matters for America has documented) occurred after the Cold War ended, and during or after Cheney's tenure as defense secretary.
On the October 6 edition of FOX News Channel's Special Report with Brit Hume, National Public Radio national political correspondent and FOX News Channel political contributor Mara Liasson questioned the effectiveness of President George W. Bush attacking Kerry's voting record on military spending. She suggested that to fend off attacks, Kerry can point out that "when Cheney was the secretary of defense, he wanted to cut some of the same systems." Hume suggested a possible Cheney response, but his proposed response was false:
LIASSON: I think the "global test" is potentially much more damaging to Kerry than the record in the Senate ... for which he's had plenty of time to come up with an answer about -- he can say that when Cheney was the secretary of defense, he wanted to cut some of the same systems.
HUME: Yes. But that -- Cheney, I suppose, would argue with that, "Look, that was at a much later stage. The Berlin Wall had fallen and the world was a different place."
As Media Matters for America has previously explained, the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign's claims (for example, in a February 22 Republican National Committee research brief and a Bush-Cheney '04 television ad released April 26) that Kerry has repeatedly voted against important weapons systems rely overwhelmingly on Kerry's votes against Pentagon appropriation or authorization bills in 1990, 1995, and 1996. The Berlin Wall fell in November 1989. Cheney was secretary of defense from March 1989 to January 1993.
And regardless of the chronology of the votes, the attack on Kerry for allegedly voting against "weapons systems" is grossly misleading. MMFA has previously noted that according to Annenberg Political Fact Check, "Kerry's votes against overall Pentagon money bills in 1990, 1995 and 1996 ... were not votes against specific weapons. And in fact, Kerry voted for Pentagon authorization bills in 16 of the 19 years he's been in the Senate."