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Media Targets 'Trivial Issues,' Cheney Says


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Dick Cheney, the Republican vice presidential nominee, sharply criticized the press Wednesday for focusing on "absolutely trivial issues" that he said "really have nothing to do with the election or with the fate of America or how the campaign ought to be decided."

Cheney's remarks were made in response to an audience member at a campaign stop here who asked when the Bush campaign would complain about media bias against Republicans.

"Does anyone expect me to argue with that?" Cheney, who visited former President Ford at his museum here, said to a crowd of several hundred at a meeting of the local Economic Club.

Cheney said he wanted to "set aside" the question of whether the media was biased toward one political party. But he went on to critique media pressures to produce more stories.

"It's always fascinating for me to watch and see how those who get in the arena and put our names on the ballot . . . spend all of our time then being critiqued by people who've never been in the arena . . . ," he said.

The question that prompted his response came after a rocky week for the Bush-Cheney campaign.

Instead of focusing on their plan to talk about tax cuts, prescription drugs and Medicare, campaign aides for both Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Cheney have had to field queries about Bush's vulgar insult of a reporter that was accidentally uttered into an open mike, revelations that Cheney did not vote in 14 of 16 elections in the five years he lived near Dallas and an eruption Tuesday over a fleeting appearance of the word "rats" in a Bush campaign ad.

Cheney said such coverage does a disservice to voters. He said reporters may tend to report "trivial stuff" because Medicare, the military and other complicated topics are "hard stuff to cover."

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