ABC's This Week omitted key portion of Edwards's account of Mary Cheney remarks

››› ››› BEN FISHEL

In airing an interview with former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC), ABC's This Week omitted a key segment in which Edwards provided context for remarks he made in the 2004 vice-presidential debate. During the debate, Edwards commended Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne Cheney, for their response to their daughter Mary Cheney's coming out as a lesbian.

The May 21 edition of ABC's This Week failed to air a key portion of an interview that host George Stephanopoulos had conducted with former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC). During the interview, Edwards related his account of a controversial incident in the 2004 vice-presidential debate in which he commended Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne Cheney, for their response to their daughter Mary Cheney's coming out as a lesbian.

After Stephanopoulos asked Edwards for his "reaction" to Mary Cheney's recent criticism of Edwards's remarks in the debate, This Week showed Edwards saying, "I think that what I said then was appropriate. And I do believe that it was in a very partisan political environment. We were in the middle of a very hot campaign, very close campaign." However, as indicated by a summary of the interview on the ABC News website, Edwards provided additional context for his 2004 remarks that This Week omitted:

Edwards told "This Week": "What happened ... is that the vice president had mentioned in several public appearances the fact that he had a gay daughter, had talked about some differences in policy that he had with the president. He was asked a question in the debate where that was referenced by the moderator, [PBS journalist] Gwen Ifill. He responded. I said that actually the fact that they had a gay daughter and embraced her is something that should be applauded for. He said thank you."

Edwards correctly noted that Ifill, in her question, mentioned that Cheney "used [his] family's experience as a context" for formulating his position on same-sex unions:

IFILL: The next question goes to you, Mr. Vice President. I want to read something you said four years ago at this very setting: "Freedom means freedom for everybody." You said it again recently when you were asked about legalizing same-sex unions. And you used your family's experience as a context for your remarks. Can you describe then your administration's support for a constitutional ban on same-sex unions?

CHENEY: Gwen, you're right, four years ago in this debate, the subject came up. And I said then and I believe today that freedom does mean freedom for everybody. People ought to be free to choose any arrangement they want. It's really no one else's business. That's a separate question from the issue of whether or not government should sanction or approve or give some sort of authorization, if you will, to these relationships. Traditionally, that's been an issue for the states. States have regulated marriage, if you will. That would be my preference.

From the interview summary on the ABC News website:

The former senator, pitching his "college for everyone" program in rural North Carolina, also responded to recent criticism by Mary Cheney, Vice President Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter. In "Now It's My Turn: A Daughter's Chronicle of Political Life," Cheney, the 37-year-old second daughter of the vice president and second lady, labeled Edwards as "complete and total slime" for congratulating Cheney and his wife during their 2004 vice presidential debate for "embrac[ing]" their daughter's sexual orientation.

Edwards did not back down, telling Stephanopoulous [sic], ABC News' chief Washington correspondent, "I think what I said then was appropriate. And I do believe that it was in a very partisan political environment. We were in the middle of a very hot campaign, very close campaign."

Mary Cheney, a close political adviser to her father, told ABC News "Primetime" anchor Diane Sawyer in May that she seriously contemplated quitting the 2004 campaign over Bush's opposition to gay marriage.

"I struggled with my decision to stay," she said.

Edwards told "This Week": "What happened ... is that the vice president had mentioned in several public appearances the fact that he had a gay daughter, had talked about some differences in policy that he had with the president. He was asked a question in the debate where that was referenced by the moderator, Gwen Ifill. He responded. I said that actually the fact that they had a gay daughter and embraced her is something that should be applauded for. He said thank you."

From the May 21 edition of ABC's This Week:

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, you've been back in the news in the last couple of weeks because Mary Cheney has been on a book tour. And she keeps bringing up the moment in the vice-presidential debate, which she called bringing sleazy politics to a whole new level, when you talked about her in the vice-presidential debate.

EDWARDS [video clip from 2004 debate]: Let me say first that I think the vice president and his wife love their daughter. I think they love her very much. And you can't have anything but respect for the fact that they're willing to talk about the fact that they have a gay daughter, the fact that they embrace her. It's a wonderful thing.

MARY CHENEY [video clip]: I mouthed a phrase towards Senator Edwards that is not appropriate for prime-time television.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What is your reaction to that?

EDWARDS: I think that what I said then was appropriate. And I do believe that it was in a very partisan political environment. We were in the middle of a very hot campaign, very close campaign. He said "thank you" and then --

STEPHANOPOULOS: She said he was acting.

EDWARDS: Well, he didn't act -- he didn't seem like he was acting, although you never know with -- with the vice president.

From the October 5, 2004, vice-presidential debate:

IFILL: The next question goes to you, Mr. Vice President. I want to read something you said four years ago at this very setting: "Freedom means freedom for everybody." You said it again recently when you were asked about legalizing same-sex unions. And you used your family's experience as a context for your remarks. Can you describe then your administration's support for a constitutional ban on same-sex unions?

CHENEY: Gwen, you're right, four years ago in this debate, the subject came up. And I said then and I believe today that freedom does mean freedom for everybody. People ought to be free to choose any arrangement they want. It's really no one else's business. That's a separate question from the issue of whether or not government should sanction or approve or give some sort of authorization, if you will, to these relationships. Traditionally, that's been an issue for the states. States have regulated marriage, if you will. That would be my preference. In effect, what's happened is that in recent months, especially in Massachusetts, but also in California, but in Massachusetts we had the Massachusetts Supreme Court direct the state of -- the legislature of Massachusetts to modify their constitution to allow gay marriage. And the fact is that the president felt that it was important to make it clear that that's the wrong way to go, as far as he's concerned. Now, he sets the policy for this administration, and I support the president.

IFILL: Senator Edwards, 90 seconds.

EDWARDS: Yes. Let me say first, on an issue that the vice president said in his last answer before we got to this question, talking about tax policy, the country needs to know that under what they have put in place and want to put in place, a millionaire sitting by their swimming pool, collecting their statements to see how much money they're making, make their money from dividends, pays a lower tax rate than the men and women who are receiving paychecks for serving on the ground in Iraq. Now, they may think that's right. John Kerry and I do not. We don't just value wealth, which they do. We value work in this country. And it is a fundamental value difference between them and us. Now, as to this question, let me say first that I think the vice president and his wife love their daughter. I think they love her very much. And you can't have anything but respect for the fact that they're willing to talk about the fact that they have a gay daughter, the fact that they embrace her. It's a wonderful thing. And there are millions of parents like that who love their children, who want their children to be happy. And I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman, and so does John Kerry. I also believe that there should be partnership benefits for gay and lesbian couples in long-term, committed relationships. But we should not use the Constitution to divide this country. No state for the last 200 years has ever had to recognize another state's marriage. This is using the Constitution as a political tool, and it's wrong.

IFILL: New question, but same subject. As the vice president mentioned, John Kerry comes from the state of Massachusetts, which has taken as big a step as any state in the union to legalize gay marriage. Yet both you and Senator Kerry say you oppose it. Are you trying to have it both ways?

EDWARDS: No. I think we've both said the same thing all along. We both believe that -- and this goes onto the end of what I just talked about -- we both believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. But we also believe that gay and lesbians and gay and lesbian couples, those who have been in long-term relationships, deserve to be treated respectfully, they deserve to have benefits. For example, a gay couple now has a very difficult time, one, visiting the other when they're in the hospital, or, for example, if, heaven forbid, one of them were to pass away, they have trouble even arranging the funeral. I mean, those are not the kind of things that John Kerry and I believe in. I suspect the vice president himself does not believe in that. But we don't -- we do believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman. And I want to go back, if I can, to the question you just asked, which is this constitutional amendment. I want to make sure people understand that the president is proposing a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage that is completely unnecessary. Under the law of this country for the last 200 years, no state has been required to recognize another state's marriage. Let me just be simple about this. My state of North Carolina would not be required to recognize a marriage from Massachusetts, which you just asked about. There is absolutely no purpose in the law and in reality for this amendment. It's nothing but a political tool. And it's being used in an effort to divide this country on an issue that we should not be dividing America on. We ought to be talking about issues like health care and jobs and what's happening in Iraq, not using an issue to divide this country in a way that's solely for political purposes. It's wrong.

IFILL: Mr. Vice President, you have 90 seconds.

CHENEY: Well, Gwen, let me simply thank the senator for the kind words he said about my family and our daughter. I appreciate that very much.

IFILL: That's it?

CHENEY: That's it.

Network/Outlet
ABC
Person
George Stephanopoulos
Show/Publication
This Week
Stories/Interests
2008 Elections, 2004 Elections
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