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. fiskenmann

    Kudos to CBS. Mr and Mrs Michele Bachmann have nothing interesting to say anyway.

    November 13, 2011 02:11 am at 2:11 am |
  2. Wylie Mike

    The media and moderators 'do' control the message.
    Through leading questions.
    Chocking off candidate dialog that would maintain or provide clarity to their statements or positions on issues.
    Manipulating stage time to highlight or dim the light of certain candidates.
    Newt has it right. The debates should be debates between the candidates and not some orchestrated puppet show. We need to see these candidates under pressure from each other to see who is genuine or is playing to the audience.

    November 13, 2011 02:15 am at 2:15 am |
  3. zip

    What trailer park in Minnesota keeps sending this POS to Washington?

    November 13, 2011 02:15 am at 2:15 am |
  4. AmericanSam

    I hate to say it, but Bachmann is right. Now, regardless of how many questions she's asked at a debate, she'll still be low in the polls. However, choosing to ask more questions to the popular ones creates a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts. Give equal airtime to the candidates. If one of them flounders, it's on them.

    November 13, 2011 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
  5. stranger in an increasingly strange land

    It is not bias to give marginal candidates less attention than candidates with some chance of winning the nomination.

    Use a football analogy: It is not bias that gets the Green Bay Packers more air time than the Miami Dolphins. The Packers are winning, therefore they get more media attention.

    If Bachman wants more time on camera, perhaps she should alter her campaign. Maybe if she appeared to be rational and put out concrete proposals rather thatn claiming that once elected things will automatically become better. Being percieved as a nut job who is running her campaign based on rumors people tell her gets her attention. I'm just not sure it is the attention she wants.

    November 13, 2011 02:20 am at 2:20 am |
  6. Nodack

    What happens when they all shoot themselves in the foot?

    November 13, 2011 02:27 am at 2:27 am |
  7. TomK

    mmmmmmmmm Seems to me that the comments of Mr Nahigian are exactly why the entire staff in NH quit on her. Not to mention that she is nothing but a 'flash in the pan' backseat congresswoman who is going nowhere but home.

    November 13, 2011 02:41 am at 2:41 am |

    Oh boo hoo. Like this stupid biitch doesn't know that almost all news agencies are state run now a days? Surely she must know that all the main stream media is state run controlled.

    November 13, 2011 02:42 am at 2:42 am |
  9. jesse

    This wasn't bias. It was them being nice. Every time she opens her mouth, she puts her foot in it by saying things that she knows will inflame most people. Case in point, her comment about Cain's 999 plan that recieved so much attention. For a debate that's supposed to be cool, calm, and logical, that kind of comment is just plain inappropriate and you better believe that she knows it.

    November 13, 2011 02:44 am at 2:44 am |
  10. Patrick

    She calls it media bias. I call it doing her, and us, a favor.

    November 13, 2011 02:56 am at 2:56 am |
  11. DBlaq

    She has no idea they're actually doing her a favor. The questions she has to answer, the more she shows us what she's bringing to the table - no real solutions other than Obama bashing and misinformation she receives from right wing online blogs. How many times are we going to be forced to witness this woman make a fool of herself, then double down and confirm not only her lack of knowledge, but her gullability? She's been in a downward spiral since she started her campaign. She hasn't led in polls since the first 2 weeks of her campaign, after all the hype died down and people realized she brings no substance. Next.

    November 13, 2011 03:00 am at 3:00 am |
  12. bcm

    Has it occurred to her that no one wants to hear any more from her?

    November 13, 2011 03:01 am at 3:01 am |
  13. c'mon america

    There are many candidates , from many parties that will not be seen or heard from at all . At least not through the mainstream media . As a non candidate michele should consider herself lucky to still have the oppurtunity to just stand there . Maybe her poll numbers will improve if she is seen but not heard ?

    November 13, 2011 03:09 am at 3:09 am |
  14. Mark

    Think of when you watch some Olympic sport like a 1000m dash, do the cameras focus on the front runners or the one trailing two laps behind? I don't care what party, but if your that far back who is she to set the rules. Besides, with the way they bash media, why should they be nice to her anyway?

    November 13, 2011 03:13 am at 3:13 am |
  15. huxley

    There's 13871203987143 GOP candidates. The networks can't be expected to give them all free air time.

    Heck, Ron Paul isn't even a Republican but he's been coming to the GOP debates just to get free air time.

    November 13, 2011 03:20 am at 3:20 am |
  16. Jerry McNeil

    They are trying to say they asked questions based on poll numbers? Ron Paul got asked the least questions and he has polled 3rd and 4th consistently. If they had this planned out for Bachman, that means they planned it out for Ron Paul as well. Their logic does not make sense. It seems as thought they are blatantly lying to us.

    November 13, 2011 03:27 am at 3:27 am |
  17. helpermonkey

    This delusional, ignorant woman represents so much of the worst of us. If she plans to continue her blind march into obscurity, she had better do it and decrease the surplus population...of underachieving candidates.

    November 13, 2011 03:29 am at 3:29 am |
  18. SPQR

    Mrs. Bachmann for your consolation I am voting for

    President Obama 2012 !

    God bless The United States of America. "We the People..."

    November 13, 2011 03:30 am at 3:30 am |
  19. Nothing new here

    Look, Ron Paul doesn't get a lot of press coverage. Neither does Huntsman, BTW. But I don't hear either of these candidates crying "bias" or "ignorant" or "freedom of speech". This Bachmann woman is getting to be too much. If she can't take the heat, then she ought to get out of the race. End of discussion.

    November 13, 2011 03:38 am at 3:38 am |
  20. jboh

    The TEA/GOP clown-show debates are a waste. Just turn on the tape recorder. None of them has said anything new in 40 yrs. Even their insults to opponents is 40 yrs old. What's their next new catch phrase going to be," America ,love it or leave it"?

    November 13, 2011 03:42 am at 3:42 am |
  21. IK Okafor

    Michelle Bachmann should quit and thrown in the towel.... All she knows how to do is criticize Obama without being able to offer any descent realistic solutions..... Incompetent legislator!

    November 13, 2011 03:45 am at 3:45 am |
  22. vivian

    She should get zero questions, zero attention, zero funding, because she has zero chance of winning anything other than a tarnished flagpin.

    November 13, 2011 04:10 am at 4:10 am |
  23. AlaskaPalin

    Why can't the net works be as fair as fox? It is so america – Where obama deserves credit he gets it and where the gop candidates should be criticize fox does it. It seems that palin has been proven right again about the lame stream media.

    November 13, 2011 04:26 am at 4:26 am |
  24. hwy9

    Hey, guess what – that's how it works. If you're up in the polls, the networks decide that you're worthy of time, and if you're not, you don't get as much. If you're crazy, like Bachmann, you aren't given much of a chance.

    November 13, 2011 04:31 am at 4:31 am |
  25. Thinker

    Lol. Ron Paul got 89 seconds total. HOW IS THAT FAIR CBS? Everyone should check their facebook page. See what's going on.

    November 13, 2011 04:40 am at 4:40 am |
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