Bachmann cries 'bias' after Saturday debate
November 12th, 2011
11:16 PM ET
2 years ago

Bachmann cries 'bias' after Saturday debate

Spartanburg, South Carolina (CNN) - Michele Bachmann accused CBS News of 'media bias' Saturday night after her campaign was included on an email chain that suggested she would get fewer questions than other candidates in a debate co-sponsored by the network and National Journal.

"I think it's only respectful to allow the candidates to be able to speak and not intentionally ahead of time make a decision to limit candidates' opportunity to speak to the American people," the Minnesota congresswoman said after the debate, which was held in South Carolina. "Clearly this was an example of media bias."

In the email chain, a CBS employee notified CBS News political director John Dickerson that Bachmann's spokeswoman, Alice Stewart, had volunteered the candidate for an interview on Dickerson's post-debate webcast. The employee copied Stewart on the email and told Dickerson that she had been cc'd.

Dickerson replied, apparently unaware that Stewart was on the email chain.

"Okay let's keep it loose though since she's not going to get many questions and she's nearly off the charts in the hopes that we can get someone else," he wrote.

Bachmann's campaign sent the email chain after the debate, claiming it suggested planned bias at the debate.

The congresswoman, who's now registering in the single digits in national polls, was not asked as many questions as the front-runners in the race.

Furious with Dickerson's response, Bachmann's campaign manager Keith Nahigian stormed through the spin room, where he said, "John Dickerson should be fired. He is a piece of shit. He is a fraud and he should be fired."

But in a statement obtained by CNN, the news network described the email chain as a "candid exchange."

"It was a candid exchange about the reality of the circumstances–Bachmann remains at 4% in the polls," said a CBS News spokesperson.

Dickerson agreed, saying "Bachmann is at 4 percent in the polls and has been for a while."

He added: "Other candidates aren't. I sent an email based on that."

Asked about claims of bias, debate moderator and CBS "Evening News" host Scott Pelley said he didn't know about the chain but that he and co-host Major Garrett of National Journal tried to be fair with time to all the candidates.


Filed under: 2012 • Michele Bachmann
soundoff (348 Responses)
  1. second mouse

    Dear Ms. Bachmann, I understand your pain, been there done that. Signed, Dennis Kucinich (2008 debate victim)

    November 13, 2011 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  2. Jimbo

    People who aren't important don't get as many questions. It's been that way in every debate. I'm glad they don't ask you much, Ms. Bachmann, because I can't stand listening to you or your answers anyway.

    November 13, 2011 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  3. Terry Gloege

    Typical right wing babble – the woman wouldn't shut up and follow the rules of the debate so now she's claiming some kind of conspiracy. She, like the big money boys and girls on wall street and in the GOP leadership, are somehow not subject to the same rules of fairness as everyone else.

    November 13, 2011 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  4. John

    OMG not US news media biased!! Of course they are biased why do you think we have Obama in office now?
    I thought the same thing about the lack of coverage for Ron Paul. But life goes on and the media here in the US will always be biased.

    November 13, 2011 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  5. GI Joe

    Why would she call it bias when everything she has said about everything is totally wacko. Let the people with a brain give us their opinions. I wouldn't waste time talking to a 3rd grader about foreign policy if there was someone with actual knowledge on the subject available.

    November 13, 2011 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  6. Kev

    ...which is why Ron Paul got like 2 minutes total... Way to keep it fair, Mr. Pelley.

    November 13, 2011 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  7. Jim

    CNN shows similar biases in even reporting bias.

    Ron Paul is doing far better in the polls than Michele Bachman, Sanorum or Huntman – yet AS shows but doesn't mention the Main Stream Media are even more biased to him that to anyone.

    Ron Paul received a lousy 89 seconds to speak in the enitire hour.

    And his campaign manager issused a statement blasting CBS after the debate.

    Yet EVEN NOW CNN ignores that while reporting CBS'S bias.

    November 13, 2011 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  8. Edgar Friendly

    People have made up their minds about Bachmann. She's nucking futs.

    November 13, 2011 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  9. Chan

    Its funny. They say its liberal elite media spoiling the news media of america and still want to use the same media to get attention. They say government is the problem and not solution, but want to be part of government. Does it qualify as hypocricy?

    November 13, 2011 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  10. julie

    Awww...do you feel like someone arbitrarily changed the rules to your disadvantage? Do you feel like everything you've worked so hard for is slipping away? I suspect a few million other Americans have had the same experience.

    How about hearing less from the extreme, hate-filled candidates and more from the rational, reasonable Huntsman and Paul? I'd actually like to hear a Republican view but the vitriole is getting a bit much.

    November 13, 2011 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  11. Rich39

    Bias? Michelle, have you ever heard or read what you say?

    November 13, 2011 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  12. srichey

    She doesn't seem to realize that the less she opens her mouth, the better off her campaign is.

    November 13, 2011 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  13. Scott

    The media bias just reflects what most voters think of Bachmann. She is an inexperienced person with no leadership skills and no plans to make the country better. Her off the wall comments reflect her stupidity, incompetence, and general lack of knowledge. Bachmann is a parasite and I don't take her seriously. She is nowhere in the same league as say Olympia Snowe or Nancy Pelosi. Republicans overall have a very weak presidential field that likely will hand victory over to Obama. Perry puts his foot in his mouth every time he speaks in a debate. Cain has serious character issues exemplified by his sexual harrassment of women. Gingrich has serious character issues and acts like a jerk since he always has to talk down to people. Paul is a fringe candidate who would let the economy implode in its first crisis under his command just like Herbert Hoover. So are there any competent candidates in the Republican field? The answer is yes. Romney is a decent candidate, but Republicans hate him because he is Mormon and because he is an intellectual.

    November 13, 2011 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  14. April

    My husband and I have noticed this bias for years........................go get the high school debate teacher and let him/her run the debate.

    November 13, 2011 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  15. ian

    does this woman ever stop whining about what a victim she is? i dont even care who wins, as long as its not a whiner, and self-defined victim like her.

    November 13, 2011 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  16. ncmyk

    bachmann, you were at the top of the polls, now you are at the bottom. its not bias – its just the american people have already listened to you, and now they've decided they don't want to hear anymore.

    November 13, 2011 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  17. Robrob

    She's at 4% and sinking, of *course* she's "irrelevant." Complaining about it isn't going to make things better.

    November 13, 2011 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  18. Oldschool

    Except for Santorum and Paul, these Republicans are going to get us into a war with Iran.

    November 13, 2011 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  19. ThinkAgain

    Ron Paul gets less air time because the media knows that there's on a snowball's chance in Hades that this anti-military, isolationist, drug-legalizing old fogey will NEVER get the GOP nomination and so, like with Bachmann, they ignore him.

    November 13, 2011 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  20. ThinkAgain

    Furious with Dickerson's response, Bachmann's campaign manager Keith Nahigian stormed through the spin room, where he said, "John Dickerson should be fired. He is a piece of ****. He is a fraud and he should be fired."

    First of all, It's the free market, Baby. Why should CBS waste resources (time and $$) on a candidate who's 4% in the polls and every time she opens her mouth, nonsensical things come out?

    Secondly, such language from a "family values" candidate. WWJS (what would Jesus say)?

    November 13, 2011 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  21. geekgirl42

    If CBS really wanted to influence the audience against the Republicans, they would have wanted more questions directed to Bachmann. Every time she opens her mouth, she just digs a deeper hole for the party to climb out of.

    November 13, 2011 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  22. mesamick

    Stick a sock in it siste, you're NOT gonna be the GOP nominee!...Go back to the House, sit down on the back bench where you belong and for chrizzsake shut up already with the whining!

    November 13, 2011 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  23. 1byrd

    Bias? Well.... It's a balancing act. Give all candidates exactly equal time.... or allow the candidates with a prayer (oooops, sorry....) of getting the nomination more time to clarify their positions on critical issues. Those that are screaming "bias" should also demand that Buddy Roehmer get equal time too. An equal split (sorry, Michele...) provides an undue advantage to candidates in teh lead – especially The Mittster. Less risk, fewer opportunities to change positions.... Go figure....

    November 13, 2011 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  24. Dr.K.

    I think Herman Cain's perspective on OWS applies here: If you're not famous and everyone is not hanging on your every word, it's your own fault. Don't try to blame the system for your own shortcomings. Just another lazy candidate feeling entitled to a media handout.

    November 13, 2011 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  25. debbie

    Michelle – the reason you are at 4% is because you are a cry baby not a leader. Quit blaming others for your lack of credibility.

    November 13, 2011 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
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