When the normally straight-laced Chris Wallace asked Congresswoman and Presidential hopeful, Michelle Bachmann, if she was flaky, the question seemed uncharacteristically juvenile of the Fox News Sunday anchor. This question came one week after Wallace’s contentious interview with The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, who accused Fox News of being a mouthpiece for the GOP.
In the world of news anchors Wallace is normally the most adult player at the table. So what gives? There were a million and one ways to ask the question he wanted to ask. The point was to have Bachmann respond to the perception in the media that she says silly and inaccurate things from time to time. Wallace chose the wording of the question that was least becoming of a cable news anchor. In fact his word choice was positively Jon Stewart-esque, which only goes to prove that Chris Wallace can’t do comedy; Stewart implied that his job is harder than Wallace’s (which is utter B.S. to be honest, but keep dreamin’ joke-boy).
I suspect Wallace went ‘flaky’ on purpose as a response to Stewart’s charges that Fox News is biased. As if to say, ‘ya see, we’re tough on the left and the right!’ Which is generally true anyway (at least relative to other news channels). On FNC and nowhere else are you likely to hear a progressive voice (Dr. Marc Lamont Hill), a liberal voice (e.g. Kirsten Powers, Bob Beckel, Alan Colmes), and the moderate-center left voice (Doug Schoen, Juan Williams). All of those voices combined with the voices of the right makes for an interesting blend of news coverage that is unlike anything else in the American news media; hence their success. The voices are heterogeneous, they’re all over the place, they are prominent, and they’re loud. Asking Bachmann if she is flaky is Wallace’s way of being tough on her in a headline-grabbing way. In short, it’s aim is to announce to the world, ‘look, we’re being tough on her! that makes us look fair.’
Wallace’s question may have served other purposes. It makes Bachmann look sympathetic. She had a strong, forceful reply to Wallace and reinforced the idea that she is a serious candidate with legitimate credentials. Wallace may have done something else for Bachmann. In the future when Bachmann has interviews with the Big-3 networks and CNN, reporters may tread carefully to avoid repeating Wallace’s gaffe, lest it seem like the media has a pattern of piling on Bachmann.
In short, we’re pretty cynical that the normally competent Wallace would phrase his question so poorly. We think it was nothing but cable news gamesmanship.
Question: why doesn’t anyone ask Obama or Biden if they are flaky, uninformed goofs with no experience running anything or making a payroll?