CNN's Wolf Blitzer and two Washington Post articles downplayed and even mischaracterized the loud, sustained chorus of boos that greeted Vice President Dick Cheney as he emerged from the dugout for the ceremonial first pitch at the Washington Nationals' home opener against the New York Mets and continued until he left the field.
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In covering Vice President Dick Cheney's ceremonial first pitch at the Washington Nationals' home opener against the New York Mets on April 11, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer and two Washington Post articles downplayed and even mischaracterized the loud, sustained chorus of boos that greeted Cheney as he emerged from the dugout and continued until he left the field. The Post attributed the boos to Cheney's pitch, which bounced in the dirt, despite the fact that the crowd began booing Cheney before he threw the ball. Blitzer attributed the boos to Democratic partisanship, ignoring the fact that Cheney has markedly low favorability ratings in national polls.
The New York Times reported on April 12 that Mets' pitcher Pedro Martinez (who hit three Nationals batters with pitches in an April 6 game, inciting a benches-clearing altercation) "received a slightly warmer reception than Vice President Dick Cheney, who was jeered before and after short-hopping the ceremonial first pitch."
The Washington Post, however, in two April 12 articles on the game, suggested that the boos were scattered and came after Cheney bounced his pitch to Nationals' catcher Brian Schneider. Post staff writer Barry Svrluga reported that Cheney "received boos on his way off the field" only after throwing the pitch. Svrluga wrote: "When all the fans settled into their seats under the sun, long after Vice President Cheney had skipped his ceremonial first pitch into the dirt in front of Washington Nationals catcher Brian Schneider -- and received boos on his way off the field -- there was still none of the juice, none of the spine tingles, that came at this point last season. Last April, baseball returned to the District for the first time since 1971, and anyone who was there will remember the night for good."
Post staff writer David Nakamura reported that Cheney was "booed by some," and that he "got even more catcalls" after bouncing his pitch. From Nakamura's April 12 article:
Vice President Cheney threw out the ceremonial first pitch, a right-handed toss that bounced in the dirt to the outside of the plate before being scooped up by catcher Brian Schneider. Cheney, booed by some as he walked to the mound, got even more catcalls after his throw -- a far cry from President Bush's fastball at last year's home opener.
Newsday reported on April 12:
The boos that met Vice President Dick Cheney yesterday as he tossed out the first ball for the Washington Nationals' home opener against the New York Mets may reflect a greater discontent with his off-diamond performance than his pitching form.
Cheney walked onto the field flanked by three veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the soldiers' support failed to lift Cheney's ratings -- or his pitch -- which was more a grounder than a fastball.
It reached catcher Brian Schneider after a bounce.
While there were some cheers from the crowd, the chorus of dissatisfaction comes as polls show Americans giving a collective thumbs-down to Cheney's and President George W. Bush's performance during their second term in office.
Indeed, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll conducted March 10-13 showed that only 30 percent of respondents have positive feelings about Cheney, while 50 percent have negative feelings. An ABC News/Washington Post poll from March 2-5 indicated that 41 percent of respondents have a favorable impression of Cheney, while 56 percent have an unfavorable impression. A CBS News poll from February 22-26 put Cheney's favorability rating at 18 percent.
Blitzer, however, on the April 11 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, reported that the boos Cheney received were "not necessarily all that surprising" because Washington, D.C., is a "heavily Democratic area." From the April 11 Situation Room:
BLITZER: And there were a lot of boos out there, maybe even more boos than cheers for the vice president today. Dick Cheney threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Washington Nationals' home opener. Cheney's pitch bounced in front of home plate, before the catcher, Brian Schneider, scooped it up -- Cheney getting some boos in the District of Columbia, a heavily Democratic area, not necessarily all that surprising.
The Nationals lost to the Mets, 7-1.