Bachmann cries 'bias' after Saturday debate
November 12th, 2011
11:16 PM ET
11 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. Brad5013

    Shades of Sarah Palin . . . "Katie Couric was mean to meeee, 'cause I'm a girl!

    November 13, 2011 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  2. GoFaster58

    She's right. These debates are nothing but a show for the network to increase their ratings. They are not true debates. Ask a question, then let each candidate answer without interruption. On each question, switch candidates to be the first to answer.

    November 13, 2011 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  3. DaveinSC

    I think Bachman let all her beliefs known during the tea party demonstrations last year in Washington. Perhaps more sane people would prevail in the GOP field. All we gotta do now is find them.

    November 13, 2011 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  4. Ed Ward II

    Ron Paul is polling at 10-12% nationally – good for third or fourth place. He is a first or second tier candidate. In the CBS South Carolina debate, he received far less questions than any other candidate including Michele Bachmann. I am unsure why the article didn't point that out. During the first hour of the debate when it was televised nationally, Ron Paul received only 90 seconds of air time. In contrast, Jon Huntsman and Rick Santronium who are third tier candidates polling at 1%, received among the most questions. That is the real bias. Michele Bachmann is also a third tier candidate and probably got the right amount of questions – she has nothing to complain about except the email does show the real intentions of the moderators at CBS. There was also too much focus on Cain and Perry, who are really not very informed. Newt Gingrich is a second tier candidate yet he got the most focus. Ron Paul is systematically ignored at all the debates yet he is the most informed debater. CBS and the other organizers of debates are trying to pick an establishment status quo candidate.

    November 13, 2011 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  5. Wo0Fy

    Sorry Michelle but most in this country are biased against abject stupidity presented by vapid candidates.

    Move along, but you get a ribbon for participating.

    November 13, 2011 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  6. Lynda/Minnesota

    "If all else fails, if after all of the work we've done, there's nothing else we can do except military action, then of course you take military action." Mitt Romney (during last nights debate focusing on Iran.)

    A "President" Mitt Romney leading America into a nuclear war with Iran is bone chilling and should give everyone who might otherwise be contemplating voting for him pause to re-evaluate. Huntsman is correct in portraying Romney as a well lubricated weather vane, and Mr. Wishy Washy Romney is NOT someone I'd want surmounting an "if all else fails" strategy of war with Iran. We had that with GW Bush. Remember how well THAT worked for America?

    November 13, 2011 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  7. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Look at the bright side. As she wasn't asked too many questions, she had fewer opportunities to mess up an already deplorable campaign.

    November 13, 2011 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  8. Rick in AZ

    Polling only 5% of the voters, I think she would consider herself lucky just to be included in the debates.

    November 13, 2011 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  9. RIckRoll

    Wow the S word, I bet I can't say it in the forums without getting blacklisted. That's Bias LOL

    November 13, 2011 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  10. Seattle Sue

    Bachmann: The truth hurts and you should be ashamed of yourself. Yes I'm really low on the polls, but you should not repeat them.

    November 13, 2011 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  11. Timus

    When you find yourself in a hole keep digging Michelle!!!

    November 13, 2011 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  12. tim

    Bachmann has been out of the race since the beginning. But if she is there, let her speak. And what about Ron Paul? He was allowed to speak for 89 seconds, and he actually has a chance to win. CBS and CNN are trying to pick the next president.

    November 13, 2011 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  13. Randy, San Francisco

    Sign of a loser: blame the media when your poll numbers are falling.

    November 13, 2011 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  14. NotRepublican

    Interesting to hear Keith Nahigian's fear response: attack the messenger John Dickerson. Nahigian is the same sort of mental giant as Bachman. Not too surprising, I guess.

    November 13, 2011 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  15. Gino

    Just a bias against morons.

    November 13, 2011 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  16. Mike

    If Mrs. Bachmann would start to focus on real issues rather than just focus on blaming the current administration in almost every response, she may be a bit higher in the polls and be taken as a more serious candidate, and just maybe get a few more questions in future debates. Americans want a President with a clear and real plan and not a "Professor of Blame"

    November 13, 2011 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  17. Brad

    Sour grapes from Michelle Bachmanns team. The people have heard what Michelle is proposing and its not what most Americans want and need today. Its time for her to wrap it up.

    The field is narrowing, and its not about a woman who cant handle the job. Its about how to direct the nation in a productive manner.

    November 13, 2011 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  18. Anthony

    She is not relevant and never has been! Her candidacy is a joke and her message will not work for the rest of the country as it has worked in "Stepford" Minnesota.

    November 13, 2011 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  19. Gino

    PS: See "Waterboarding OK."

    November 13, 2011 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  20. REG in AZ

    This last Republican debate was uninspiring, kind of “oh-hum” without any real “bell ringing”. They continued with their aggressive Obama bashing but that just fills time and is done for the emotional response from the biased audience, but it actually says nothing as a credit to them – if they depend on faulting Obama to get elected, it simply leaves a void without anything to count on once they would get in office. The Republicans just don’t seem to care about the average American, the majority, and they clearly demonstrate that in the candidates they support ... it actually is ridiculous.

    Huntsman, Sanatorium and Paul gave the more thought out and intelligent answers and Cain, Perry, Bachmann and Gingrich just rambled on without any real value (often being corrected by what others said) – just being the “puppets” they are, simply wanting to be directed by those who would “pull their strings”. Romney was fairly neutral, cautiously avoiding making an error, with some thought given to his responses yet still heavily dependent on criticizing Obama. Bachmann, as usual, was completely reliant on aggressively bashing Obama and again gave the impression that is really all she has. In all, there was nothing moving or inspiring or that created a comfortable feeling.

    November 13, 2011 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  21. Ralph

    It's the same reason there are no posts one really cares what she has to say anymore. The novelty is over.

    November 13, 2011 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  22. parker

    The baby is crying again. Cain said the same thing because he is black, Romney because he is Mormon, Gingrich because he is a liar and cheater, Perry because he is dumb . . . . of course the media is biased. Politics isn't fair, remember?

    November 13, 2011 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  23. Ann

    Yah – when you lose a debate, always claim racism or bias. That will always work.

    November 13, 2011 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  24. willie floyd

    Just the fact that this woman can't read the writing on the wall that says she is toast, pretty much indicates her amount of intelligence-about the same as her 4% rating. As Mrs. Bush told Palin "go back home and stay there".

    November 13, 2011 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  25. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    Oh give 'em a break Michele. There only trying to save time for those that might be relevant and save you from further embarrassing yourself by having to give a response. Biased, yes... But their actually doing us ALL a favor.

    November 13, 2011 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
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