The Problem with Bachmann

Perhaps she has a good reason to be mad at CBS; perhaps she even sees this reason as a good reason to be mad at all media outlets. But in her campaign’s tirade against the same people who allowed her free air time (albeit very little), Michele Bachmann has demonstrated a propensity for overreaction and recklessness.

It all started when CBS News political analyst John Dickerson inadvertently clicked “Reply All,” to an email in which Bachmann’s campaign spokeswoman, Alice Stewart, was an original recipient. Dickerson, responding to a request from a colleague for a post-debate interview with Bachmann replied to “keep it loose,” since Bachmann was not expected to “receive many questions,” and whose poll numbers are dropping “nearly off the charts.” Dickerson wanted to remain open to an interview with a more high profile candidate.

This is Bachmann’s smoking gun of media bias? Well, let’s just say that Dickerson’s email does indicate, at the very worst, CBS’s bias against Bachmann. So what? What did she expect? With her poll numbers struggling to stay aloft at a paltry 4%, can she really blame a private corporation for its wanting to increase profits by holding out for a more ratings-friendly candidate?

Her latest claim is that the media wants to pick the candidates, not the voters <gasp>! Of course they do; they are interested voters, too. I suppose she clings to the romantic idea – for it’s definitely not the classical one – that a media outlet, much less an individual journalist, is actually capable of objectivity and an unbiased approach to politics, and therefore should be completely neutral on every subject and toward every candidate.

But what’s worse is her following statement, that a media outlet’s veiled preference for a candidate is “the same as the government choosing winners and losers. It shouldn’t.”

Excuse me? It is? Did we elect Leslie Moonves (the CEO of CBS)? Did we elect their reporters? Do our taxes pay their salaries? Are they in any way charged by a mutual or social contract with protecting any of our individual or corporate rights as citizens?

Her premise is flawed, that a reporter or media outlet is actually capable of choosing winners and losers in an election. Is the media important? Sure. Does favorable media coverage help a candidate? Absolutely. But it doesn’t determine the outcome, as Reagan and GWB have both demonstrated. No, Michele, the primaries are still weeks and months away, and more voters will make their determination to vote on how you have reacted to an instance of unfavorability. Will they want a president who reacts to harsh reality by lashing out at the messenger? Or would they rather have a president who can turn adversity into opportunity? The voters, not John Dickerson, are the ones who ultimately cast the ballot.

Beyond her premise, however, there is something sinister in her language that smacks of totalitarianism. A politician telling a corporation how it should treat politics is absolutely dangerous. It is dangerous to the liberty of the citizenry, and it is equally dangerous to a politician. Does she really think that ABC, NBC, CNN, or even Fox News is going to treat her better now that she has essentially stated she knows best how to operate their companies? (We used to call this the Fairness Doctrine, which I am sure she is vehemently against.) If she is willing to dictate rules to one industry simply because she thought it was “unfair,” what is stopping her from doing that to another? (U.S. Senate candidates in Virginia, take note.)

“But the media is different from other private corporations!” some might say. No it’s not. It’s made up of people, just like everything else. It’s only different if you accept that perfect and perpetual objectivity is attainable. The minute we start telling private citizens how much they must pay attention to a candidate, and how much they must charge, pay, or ultimately earn for air-time of those candidates, we might as well tell other people they are required to purchase health insurance. Do we really want another president who advocates limiting speech, and an executive who desires to determine for an ovine society what is “fair?”

Julius Caesar was subject to harsher verbal attacks than Michelle Bachmann, who is at worst only a victim of the crime of indifference. No, the Dictator Perpetuo was elevated to his post through popular acclaim despite constant vulgar and heinous slanders and libels, the least of which would be grounds for a defamation suit in today’s society. But one thing was different. People then were not as prone to operate under the false assumption that everything a media outlet says must be devoid of editorializing. They were healthy skeptics. Rather than worry about and try to regulate the inevitable subjectivity of our modern media, we as voters and politicians would do better to allow everyone to speak their piece freely and openly, and worry more about how to properly react to those statements.

If any candidate has reason to complain about media coverage, it is Ron Paul, who consistently outperforms Bachmann in public polling and whose numbers have been far less volatile. But despite his virtual silence on that matter, his supporters have become among the most vocal and energetic advocates of any in the Republican field.

No, I am not comparing Ron Paul to Julius Caesar (or Michele Bachmann to Pompey). But he has at least in his gentlemanly silence and consistency demonstrated that his ideas of the freedom of expression are not mere applause lines, later to be contradicted by absurd mandates on private companies from a federal office. I still don’t know whom I will vote for, but I do know of one person who will not receive that vote.

  • Interesting rant about a ranting candidate. Loved the stuff about dear Julius Ceasar. The media would have a field day with him even in this day. Despite his peccadillos (and there were apparently many), he still conquored Gaul and Britain. Even Hitler couldn’t pull that off.

  • Rachel


  • In case you could not guess, I am a a Newt Gingrich guy. As a friend who shall remain nameless said this morning, he is truly “Churchillian.” I can’t wait to call him Mr. President. The villificaiton he is taking right now in the MSM is just further proof in the pudding. What will they talk about six weeks from now? Nothing. Why? They’ll be out of venom and orange juice.

    I predicted on this very site not more than six weeks ago he was going to win this. As I wrote then, every sort of trash talk one could possibly dream up and conjure up has already been published, rehashed, vomited out and pundited ad nauseum. We all know Newt, as I wrote before. We all have our foibles and weakesses. And we all move on. GO NEWT!

  • Don

    Peace, silence! Brutus speaks.

  • Actually, Craig, Caesar could not conquer Britain. He had to turn away. Rome would not be successful in occupying that island for another century after Caesar’s first attempt.

  • Andrew. I am going to have to take your word for this. The point remains that Ms. Bachmann and her rant need to go away. Maybe she can go conquer Britain all over again. While she’s at it, she can build a re-maid [sic] Haridan’s Wall.

  • OK Andrew. You have clearly thought through why you are not voting for Michelle Backmann. That must have taekn up a lot of your time. Some of in the classroom coul have figured tht one out a long time ago. But that would just us smart assess and we’d be gold to stand in the corner.On the other hand, so what.

    Others here (especially me) have already walked through this entire exercise and have arrived at the logical conclusion that Newt Gingrich is the only correct and logical answer. I am not privileged to be a contributor on this site. I am only a voter who has never missed an election day since his tenture in the Commonwealth in the last seven years, and a former state legislator from the foreign nation sometimes called the State of Missouri. But what the heck do I know? Well…I do know how to vote.

  • David A.

    I am sorry, but character has to count for something these days. I won’t recount the details, but do me a favor and look up the details surrounding Gingrich’s first two marriages. In particular, when he demanded his first wife discuss a divorce upon the completion of her cancer surgery. Sickening…

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