Green Room

Tea Party Hopeful Michele Bachmann Fails First Test by Ruthless MSM

posted at 1:57 pm on March 31, 2011 by

If Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is seriously considering a run for president in 2012, she is going to have to study Sarah Palin’s game film from 2008. It is her only way of sidestepping the inevitable sucker punches the mainstream media will throw at her, as Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric did so effectively against Palin.

Bachmann got an early—and relatively painless—glimpse of this process yesterday, when she appeared on the Today show. Host Matt Lauer, another Obama acolyte, asked her an easy question:

I want to take you back to March 17. It was a Thursday. It was the day that Muammar Gaddafi told the people of Libya and Benghazi that his troops were on the way, they would show no mercy, and they would find them in their closets. If you had been president of the United States on that day, what would you have done specifically?

The question would seemed less loaded if Lauer had couched it in straightforward language, rather than dripping with touchy-feely angst and sympathy for Obama’s quandary.

Before getting to Bachmann’s answer, that date, March 17, was the one on which the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution imposing a no-fly zone over Libya. More importantly for history books yet to be written, it was the one on which the president unveiled what some are idiotically hailing as the “Obama Doctrine,” seeming to suggest that Barack Obama invented the notion of sending U.S. troops into a country ruled by a maniacal despot to avert a blood letting.

The liberals who author those histories will be more than happy to overlook the fact that committing troops to a country in the throes of a humanitarian crisis is precisely what George W. Bush did in Iraq in 2003, with one notable difference. Saddam Hussein had already gassed tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis and was threatening to do worse, while Muammar Gaddafi is just getting warmed up.

But back to Bachmann’s response. The presidential answer would have been, “I would have taken action weeks before March 17, when protests in Libya first erupted—a period during which the current president dithered.” In answer to the likely follow-up questions on the nature of the putative actions, replies might have included early and severe sanctions on Libya, efforts to freeze known Gaddafi bank accounts, and strong pronouncements from the Oval Office rallying protesters and denouncing actions by Gaddafi’s henchmen such as opening fire on mourners at the funeral of a protester.

Instead, Bachmann played into the question:

Well, I don’t think that at that point that we had seen the threat to the United States either from Gaddafi or have we seen a vital American national interest at risk. That really needs to be our first line of defense because unfortunately there are atrocities that do happen in different countries in the world. We just saw this weekend slaughter in Syria, so based upon that criteria of humanitarian intervention, which apparently is the new Obama Doctrine, that would be the basis for the United States to enter into one country after another. I don’t think that’s in the American interest for us to enter into one country after another.

This answer, which she enlarged upon as the interview progressed, paved the way for Lauer’s predictably cynical comeback, which was, “You would have done nothing?”

Bachmann even flubbed the following ridiculous and unserious question, which came late in the interview:

If there are flickers, as you say, of Al Qaeda among the rebels, would it not be a sign to them or showing them that the United States has compassion, and we’re willing to use our military might to help all people?

Rather than laugh in Lauer’s face at the suggestion that the concept of compassion even exists in the depraved terrorist mindset, she asked, “Compassion for Al Qaeda?”

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Cross-posted at the Examiner. Follow me on Twitter or join me at Facebook. You can reach me at howard.portnoy@gmail.com or by posting a comment below.

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I really don’t know why any R, who is thinking of running for president, would get on the msm shows, ever. These slugs are out to make the R look as stupid as possible. Come on Michele, at least go on Fox, they are more fair than the whole blooming msm put together. Michele, you are the head of the TP caucus and they hate you and the TP with a passion!
L

letget on March 31, 2011 at 2:17 PM

Newtie failed first with Lauer on the same subject. Rep. Bachmann has raised quite a number of adopted children besides her own. I’m sure she has a lot more compassion in her little finger than Lauer could load in a Mack truck.

Kissmygrits on March 31, 2011 at 2:25 PM

Great analysis. And I disagree, letget. Our candidates should go on every MSM show and do what Portnoy is advising: turn the tables on them. These are enormous opportunities we’re missing and blowing. Bachmann blew it. Bachmann blew it with Chris Matthews. These MSM idiots have no experience having the tables turned on them. Turn the tables. All it takes is awareness of their game, facts, a sense of play and a bit of wit.

I’d say Bachmann needs to do some remedial learning but I’m afraid she’ll never get it. As a politician, she’s been conditioned into a “with all due respect” mentality in dealing with people who deserve no respect.

rrpjr on March 31, 2011 at 2:32 PM

This particular line of questioning is not that difficult to deal with. If the Obama Doctrine is going to be followed, then we either need to be all in or completely out. If protecting civilians from a mad dictator is our motivation for intervening in Libya, then that means we’re going into Syria, Bahrain, North Korea, Iran, and countless other places. Otherwise we’re staying the hell out.

When the drive-bys come at you with the bleeding heart BS, just ask them point blank if they advocate going into every country that falls under the Obama Doctrine? They’re libs so you know damn well they’ll back off the moment the prospect of invading dozens of countries rears its ugly head.

Doughboy on March 31, 2011 at 2:45 PM

This is a justified criticism, HP. I would offer another view, though, which is that every Republican who has spoken on the topic of Libya has flubbed it in one way or another, and the real reason is that there’s no clear-cut, universal principle to drive us to one action or another there.

Republicans are deeply divided on what we should have done, should be doing, or should do tomorrow about Libya. My own sense is that we should have taken action in February, but it wouldn’t have done much good to take Obama‘s kind of action in February. But that said, I respect some of the arguments made by those on the right who didn’t want to intervene then and still think it’s a bad idea. I don’t think those people are excessively isolationist or that they don’t understand US interests or security. The Libya intervention is something smart people of goodwill can disagree on.

At any rate, though, your point that Republican aspirants to the Oval Office need to refuse to let Matt Lauer dictate to them the terms of discourse is spot on. What Sarah Palin is good at, in the policy realm, is framing issues in her own terms. That’s something Reagan was a master at, and it’s one of the biggest reasons Palin drives the MSM up the wall.

J.E. Dyer on March 31, 2011 at 2:45 PM

Great analysis. And I disagree, letget. Our candidates should go on every MSM show and do what Portnoy is advising: turn the tables on them. These are enormous opportunities we’re missing and blowing. Bachmann blew it. Bachmann blew it with Chris Matthews. These MSM idiots have no experience having the tables turned on them. Turn the tables. All it takes is awareness of their game, facts, a sense of play and a bit of wit.

I’d say Bachmann needs to do some remedial learning but I’m afraid she’ll never get it. As a politician, she’s been conditioned into a “with all due respect” mentality in dealing with people who deserve no respect.

rrpjr on March 31, 2011 at 2:32 PM

The problem is that so many of the candidates are going on MSM shows and falling right into the libbies’ hands. How many wannabe presidential contenders have you ever heard say anything like, “Well I disagree entirely with the presmise of the question, so…?” Not many, I’d daresay…if even more than one. /shill

And along those lines, I’d go so far as to say that no Republican presidential candidate should feel obligated to jack-sh!t for, or even with the MSM until those one-note Obama loving hacks get their own act together. Being a presidential candidate (let alone a candidate running against Barack Hussein Soetoro-Obama) shouldn’t mean having to pick fights with clueless losers who buy ink (or electrons in this day and age) by the barrel.

gryphon202 on March 31, 2011 at 2:46 PM

What Sarah Palin is good at, in the policy realm, is framing issues in her own terms. That’s something Reagan was a master at, and it’s one of the biggest reasons Palin drives the MSM up the wall.

J.E. Dyer on March 31, 2011 at 2:45 PM

I wasn’t about to name names, but this +1.

gryphon202 on March 31, 2011 at 2:47 PM

I have nothing against Bachman, I like her, but this unfortunate exercise demonstrates a point I and others have been making for some time. The LSM has focused all its considerable venom and lies and smears against Palin since day one when she became the VP nominee. If these other potential candidates think they have had a pass because they are non toxic unlike Palin, they need to think again.

The only reason the LSM has been out to get Palin is because they rightly see that she is their only real adversary. Sarah is the only one that has weathered the storm they have thrown at her and emerged not only still standing but stronger.

What happened to Bachmann is unfortunate but predictable and will happen to any and all of the other potential wannabes if they decide to step into the ring and are perceived as posing even the remotest threat to the 0.

This is just another reason why Sarah, who has been the only one willing to stand up for us, speak out intelligently on the issues and take the heat for more than the last two years, is the only serious candidate we have and the 0 and the media know it better than anyone.

shmendrick on March 31, 2011 at 3:23 PM

The problem is that so many of the candidates are going on MSM shows and falling right into the libbies’ hands.
gryphon202 on March 31, 2011 at 2:46 PM

So don’t fall into their hands. If you don’t have the wit and will not to, then don’t appear on the show. The problem is, Bachmann and others don’t really have a sound rationale for appearing on these shows if they aren’t willing to challenge the MSM premises and kick ass.

Like Andrew Breitbart, I’m sick of playing defense. It’s better and more fun to play offense. Go on these shows and kick MSM ass. It has enormous potential for payoff. It serves the truth, for one. The media is the enemy. We shouldn’t be running from them.

rrpjr on March 31, 2011 at 3:41 PM

The problem with “don’t go on their shows” (as a general rule) is “Why should we believe a candidate is ready for the ‘big chair’ if he / she can’t deal with a pip-squeak like Chris Matthews?”

Given how predictable the lefties are, any Republican who isn’t ready to deal with loaded questions – any Republican who gets “surprised” or expects “fairness” – has no business speaking in public, period.

BD57 on March 31, 2011 at 3:42 PM

Given how predictable the lefties are, any Republican who isn’t ready to deal with loaded questions – any Republican who gets “surprised” or expects “fairness” – has no business speaking in public, period.

BD57 on March 31, 2011 at 3:42 PM

I can think of at least one candidate who is ready for the parry and riposte of 2012. But the problem with the MSM is that they can do just as much or more damage to you in the editing room than they do while you’re sitting in the chair for them.

gryphon202 on March 31, 2011 at 4:00 PM

The media is the enemy. We shouldn’t be running from them.

rrpjr on March 31, 2011 at 3:41 PM

See my post above, re: the damage the media can do in their editing rooms.

gryphon202 on March 31, 2011 at 4:01 PM

See my post above, re: the damage the media can do in their editing rooms.

gryphon202 on March 31, 2011 at 4:01 PM

Fine, then only do live interviews. Make it a condition. A lot of these shows are live anyway. Tell them — you’ve lost the right to conduct taped interviews. You’re on probation. Put THEM on the defensive. And bring your own film crew to tape the show. Take the initiative. Taking the initiative on this point also opens the door for a discussion of the subversive and manipulative power of editing. This is good to discuss and educate people about.

The point is, take the initiative. Taking on these people is the entire game right now. You can’t dodge it. They live in a smug, sealed world of their own invincibility, and it must be shattered.

rrpjr on March 31, 2011 at 4:14 PM

Fine, then only do live interviews. Make it a condition. A lot of these shows are live anyway. Tell them — you’ve lost the right to conduct taped interviews. You’re on probation. Put THEM on the defensive. And bring your own film crew to tape the show. Take the initiative. Taking the initiative on this point also opens the door for a discussion of the subversive and manipulative power of editing. This is good to discuss and educate people about.

The point is, take the initiative. Taking on these people is the entire game right now. You can’t dodge it. They live in a smug, sealed world of their own invincibility, and it must be shattered.

rrpjr on March 31, 2011 at 4:14 PM

Just as a for-instance, can you imagine the shit-fit that some on the right would be throwing if Sarah Palin set the conditions for her own interviews? I think the outcry would be worse than the “But she doesn’t so any hostile interviews!” whining is now. It would go from that to, “She’s making demands of her interviewers! That’s not presidential!”

The truth will out. It always does, whether people want to believe it or not. If you’re going to set your own terms for dealing with tme media, why even accept the premise that going through a hostile MSM is a necessity? It’s not like we don’t have other options now, right?

gryphon202 on March 31, 2011 at 4:19 PM

Just as a for-instance, can you imagine the shit-fit that some on the right would be throwing if Sarah Palin set the conditions for her own interviews?

Anyone put in that scenario has an answer – -

“I’m willing to go on live and let the people decide based on everything I say. Why aren’t you?”

You can challenge their basic fairness without whining.

BD57 on March 31, 2011 at 4:24 PM

If you’re going to set your own terms for dealing with tme media, why even accept the premise that going through a hostile MSM is a necessity? It’s not like we don’t have other options now, right?

gryphon202 on March 31, 2011 at 4:19 PM

It’s a necessity because they’re the foundation of the Left. As Breitbart says, Obama, Pelosi, Reid and the rest of them are “weak sisters” and would be lucky even to find work without the media. The ludicrous and freak phenomenon called “President Obama” only exists because of the media.

“The truth will out”? Really? How did that work for Bush? How has it worked for Palin, aside from her own hard work to “out” the truth? Part of “outing” the truth is demolishing the media. It’s called making God’s work our own.

And it’s a necessity because they’re liars and it’s a moral duty to confront liars in the public realm.

And it’s a necessity because it’s such a golden and irresistible opportunity. The purpose in going on their shows is not to acknowledge their authority as interlocutors but to exploit the opportunity to debunk and subvert them as sham interlocutors. It’s a HUGE opportunity, a public service, a moral duty, and it’s FUN. It’s really FUN.

Just as a for-instance, can you imagine the shit-fit that some on the right would be throwing if Sarah Palin set the conditions for her own interviews? I think the outcry would be worse than the “But she doesn’t so any hostile interviews!” whining is now. It would go from that to, “She’s making demands of her interviewers! That’s not presidential!”

gryphon202 on March 31, 2011 at 4:19 PM

Who cares? Too much worrying. I would apply the criteria that Palin usually applies to her decisions, i.e., “is it surpassingly right and does it make sense to do this.” In that case, insisting that her interviews be live or that she would have her own interviews taped to assure fairness is absolutely right and makes sense.

We’re in a war. Better to accept the fact and engage it on our terms. I’d like to see 2012 the year of the MSM’s end. It won’t happen by avoiding them.

rrpjr on March 31, 2011 at 4:43 PM

rrpjr on March 31, 2011 at 4:43 PM

BRAVO rrpjr, and well said.

44Magnum on March 31, 2011 at 5:46 PM

Sorry Howard, but Michelle answered the question as it should have been answered: DO NOTHING. Think, watch, and deliberate carefully before entering the fray. So what if there’s a U.N. resolution on 3/17? The U.N. passes useless resolutions all the time. If the French & British want to protect their oil supply, then they can do so without our help. A little hesitance in this case might have made clearer exactly who we were helping. These were not the sort of pro-democracy protesters that Obama turned his back on in Iran. These are people who, were they to assume power, would likely be at least AS HOSTILE to the US as the previous regime. Given Khadafi’s recent track record of being a relatively good boy, the alternative could be a lot worse. If Khadafi is worth stopping, then he’s worth killing. If not, then just let the arabs kill eachother and save ourselves $550M worth of wastes cruise missiles and fighter sorties. Michelle has it right.

SAMinVA on March 31, 2011 at 5:50 PM

“The truth will out”? Really? How did that work for Bush? How has it worked for Palin, aside from her own hard work to “out” the truth? Part of “outing” the truth is demolishing the media. It’s called making God’s work our own.

rrpjr on March 31, 2011 at 4:43 PM

The problem with Bush wasn’t that he didn’t engage the media properly. He didn’t engage the media at all. And since when did “demolishing the media” mean we have to sit down and have interviews with them?

As for Palin, the problem isn’t that she isn’t engaging. It’s that she is being lied about by people that wish to destroy her. I wish that was the exclusive domain of the left and particularly the leftist media, but it’s not.

I must admit, there is a good likelihood that I am projecting my own biases onto how I see this dilemma. It just seems to me that the leftist media aren’t the gatekeepers they used to be. And if we made it happen in 1980, we should sure be able to make it happen now without the help of people who actively and consciously want to destroy us.

gryphon202 on March 31, 2011 at 6:48 PM

There are plenty of conservatives who can handle tough and even unfair questions. Running from the media is pathetic and screams too dumb to stand up against meaningful questions. If they can’t take it forge them. Others will rise to the surface through the merit of their arguments and thinking on their feet.

lexhamfox on March 31, 2011 at 9:33 PM

MB should not only study the 2008 playbook of Palin’s but also the 2009, 2010 and 2011 playbooks. Palin is leaps and bounds ahead of most R candidates at this point in regards to the press. Cain also made a no-no this week. This is after all why we have primaries to choose the best one. competition breeds better candidates. Palin as of know is running circles around the others.

unseen on March 31, 2011 at 10:41 PM

There are plenty of conservatives who can handle tough and even unfair questions. Running from the media is pathetic and screams too dumb to stand up against meaningful questions. If they can’t take it forge them. Others will rise to the surface through the merit of their arguments and thinking on their feet.

lexhamfox on March 31, 2011 at 9:33 PM

That’s the problem, Lex. If you don’t run from the media, then you run the risk of looking like an ass when the editing makes it sound like you said the opposite of what you really meant. And if you insist on doing interviews on your own terms, as a conservative, they can refuse to humor you and turn around and make you sound like a ham-fisted tyrant. It’s a bum deal, but the truth of the matter is that the conservative movement doesn’t owe the MSM sh!t. They are every bit as much our enemies as Democrats are, and I think the idea of trying to work the MSM is just as foolish as trying to “compromise” with liberal capital hill politicians.

gryphon202 on April 1, 2011 at 12:16 AM

This is exactly why Palin supporters should be happy to have Bachmann in the race. She’s a decent Palin substitute should Palin not enter the race. And if she does, Palin will look more polished and moderate next to Bachmann.

Plus, having two women on the stage instead of one will also be enormously helpful. When you have only one member of an outgroup, everyone treats that member as representing their entire group. Such as, one woman candidate would be seen as trying to represent all women, which as we know is impossible to do successfully. The more outgroup members you have (they say 3 is the magic number), the more the members are treated as individuals instead of representatives of their group. Bachmann at least makes it two.

alwaysfiredup on April 1, 2011 at 12:38 AM

…one woman candidate would be seen as trying to represent all women, which as we know is impossible to do successfully.

alwaysfiredup on April 1, 2011 at 12:38 AM

Don’t be silly. Hillary represented all women quite successfully. So does Barack Obama, for that matter.

J.E. Dyer on April 1, 2011 at 4:20 AM

Don’t be silly. Hillary represented all women quite successfully. So does Barack Obama, for that matter.

J.E. Dyer on April 1, 2011 at 4:20 AM

That’s the liberal double standard, J.E. One woman can represent all women quite successfully — if that woman is a liberal.

gryphon202 on April 1, 2011 at 9:39 AM

….How many wannabe presidential contenders have you ever heard say anything like, “Well I disagree entirely with the presmise of the question, so…?” Not many, I’d daresay…if even more than one….
gryphon202 on March 31, 2011 at 2:46 PM

Even though she is not a current presidential candidate (and sadly so mostly because of her last name), Lynn Cheney is a master at the “disagree entirely with the premise’ response to a loaded question.

All presidential contenders who allow interviews with the biased MSM need to watch Lynn Cheney in action to learn how to handle this situation with grace and intelligence.

marybel on April 1, 2011 at 12:43 PM

Lesson learned: Any question that ask you to second guess a past action is a “gotcha”. Proper reply: “We all know what _____ did, don’t we? So you’re saying you have doubt?”

“There you go again.” is not worn out either.

Caststeel on April 1, 2011 at 4:04 PM

Bachmann even flubbed the following ridiculous and unserious question, which came late in the interview:

What a smelly story Portnoy has presented here today. For whatever reason, he is biased against Bachman and is trying to use this fantasy land column to support his personal campaign of hate.

Hotair is really missing the level of quality that MM brought!

Freddy on April 2, 2011 at 5:20 PM