Vail Daily editor Don Rodgers throws a bucket of cold water on Arianna Huffington's, Dick Cheney checks into a Vail hospital with heart problems story. From the Vail Daily News Editors Blog:
Vice President Dick Cheney, on his annual visit to Beaver Creek for the World Forum, that annual gathering of conservatives and the now somewhat humbled neo-conservative cabal, went fishing on the Eagle River today, as he often does.Twenty four hours later, and Ariana has neither retracted the story, nor provided any additional updates. Of course they have managed to delete comments (all of which had to be approved by someone at HuffPo before they were displayed) after others noticed that cheerleading for Cheney's demise made HuffPo resembled the fever-swamp that is Democratic Underground.
The stories from folks who work at the hospital were all about Cheney visiting Dr. Richard Steadman. One said she was told it was a social visit. Others said the vice president was there to have his knee looked at, after Steadman finished his day's round of surgeries. The timing fit the doc's schedule.
We were told of the Secret Service fellows doing their thing, clearing everyone out ahead of the vice president. But things got back to normal pretty quick outside the clinic's doors. Agents guarded the doors to the clinic. But downstairs in the lobby, other agents appeared to be paying more attention to "Sports Center" than the pedestrian traffic, and the fellows with the vehicles chatted with hotel security and just a little with passers-by.
Some of the party talk at the Vail Valley Institute, which included Arianna Huffington, David Brooks and other luminaries attending a three-day seminar, touched on what Cheney was really doing at the hospital.
It's hard for me to separate the speculation from the observations reported second-hand to me. But someone basically said they knew someone who told them they understood that the knee thing was a ruse. Dick felt some heart discomfort and they all made up a story about his knee. He passed through the orthopedic clinic and visited other docs and had his heart looked at, this story goes.
Everyone I called laughed at me, frankly. But it's not implausible at all. We haven't been able to confirm anything like that happening, and grrrr, it's that damn sort of rumor that's impossible to disprove, either. Or at least not easy. The doc Cheney supposedly saw didn't answer his home phone tonight, and I know he wouldn't tell me anything if he did.
Arianna wrote in her blog that she was told Cheney went to a cardiac unit "adjacent" to the orthopedic clinic. Well, I'm pretty sure there is not any cardiac unit next door to Steadman Hawkins. But it's a small mountain town hospital. Upstairs ain't far away, either.
She also tells of a nurse, intimidated by a security guy doing his thing, calling her husband and declaring something big is happening.
In any case, Cheney left at 5:30 p.m., about right for his knee exam. He never checked in the hospital, and I believe he's still in town.
Not one single reputable news source (or unreputable for that matter) has provided even a shred of support for Arianna's cocktail circuit tale...
Update: As noted in the comment section below there is some confusion (due to the disclaimer on the comment form at HuffPo) as to which comments are pre-publication moderated and which are post-publication moderated. Comments that Huffington (or her staff) didn't want displayed were deleted, which she explains here.