Cheney flies out, expected back; Arianna flies off … |

Cheney flies out, expected back; Arianna flies off …

Don Rogers

The vice president flew out of Eagle County today and was expected back, our spies told us. No, not for health reasons, we were told.

Arianna Huffington and her merry cast of bloggers think they are onto something with this rumor that Dick Cheney’s knee doc appointment at Steadman Hawkins was all a ruse to visit a cardiac unit next to the clinic, which doesn’t exist, by the way. It shows the strength and weakness of blogs. You can say a little more here. And you can stretch things a bit, too.

I read one of her companion bloggers turned her report based on what someone’s relative told them about what they thought really was happening into a wilder little assertion that Arianna had gotten a doctor to “spill the beans.” Such is the way with rumors. It’s not clear to me at all whether the relative at the hospital had actually observed something or was passing along a piece of speculation mixed in. See how easy the blogger took Arianna’s written report and turned it into “fact.”

The story that emerged from the dinner event Arianna attended, New York Times columnist David Brooks’ keynote address to the Vail Valley Institute, didn’t quite match what we learned from staffers at the hospital. Not to say it was wrong ” still can’t find anyone who can disprove the possibility, and neither can we positviely, absolutely put Arianna’s rumor to rest.

There’s patient confidentiality. Scuttlebutt among the staff. What people saw from outside. None of that is definitive. But what we heard lines up with an examination of the vice president’s knee, and maybe surgery in the future.

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There’s only one assertion that is was this elaborate ruse, which would involve leaving the guards at the door to Steadman Hawkins to sneak upstairs, where otherwise the hospital bustle was normal.

It also doesn’t make sense because it would be easy enough to visit one of the valley heart docs at the office without all the drama ” and subsequent talk ” at the hospital.

And finally, the story had all this sneaking around to see not a heart specialist, but a doctor of internal medicine.

Maybe it all happened. I tend to doubt it.

I think it’s more likely that Arianna heard the VP was headed to mygod the hospital with his entourage and took off ” physically and in her imagination. How would she know Steadman Hawkins is on the second floor or that Cheney’s entourage always drives around like they mean business?

Then the party talk got going, including a tidbit that it wasn’t the knee but the heart. Again, maybe so. But facts can turn to rumor pretty easily that way, as anyone who has played “Telephone” knows. So we’ll see. Maybe the party that passed on this tidbit will confirm it better and let us know with enough evidence to support publication as a fact.

I know that in the newsroom, people turned to the heart. That’s where the news would be. That’s what the nation would be concerned about. So it’s understandable.

Logic points to the knee. The ruse story is sexier, so I’m sure it will linger whether there’s an iota of truth or not.

I’d be concerned if the big guy weren’t coming back. We’re at high altitude, thin air and far from center of the universe for expert cardiology. But we do have the best knee docs in the world right here.

I’ll leave it to you to figure out where a guy who can command the best care would hang out if his heart were truly bothering him.

Maybe Arianna can find another someone who heard from someone to explain that one to her.

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