Note some of the similarities in how the MSM went after Palin and Bachmann.
1. Mountain out of a molehill: Take little side-issues no one cares about (or should care about) and magnify them until they scare away independent voters. Manufacture the appearance of impropriety.
With Palin the media poured over her every word, every clumsy phrasing, every stammer. They went through all of her language and they isolated a few subjects to pick on. Examples, the troopergate issue, the “book banning” non-issue, her characterization of the role of the vice president, as well as the tanning bed, and the amount of money the RNC allowed her to spend on her wardrobe, and all the fantastical garbage regarding the birth of Palin’s baby. Three years later, has anything come of these issues? No. But at the time in ’08, whenever the anchors discussed these topics they used their serious Edward R. Murrow news voice, as if they’d just stumbled upon Watergate, Part Deux.
(In the case of Charlie Gibson’s question to Palin about the Bush doctrine, Gibson asked an unfair question. Who knew there was an official Bush doctrine that had been outlined and critiqued by historians for decades? Krauthammer didn’t even know what the hell Gibson was talking about. Apparently Gibson just meant neoconservatism. In any event, it made Palin, to the public at large, look unsure of herself and gave the appearance of incompetence.
In the case of the Russia from her house comment, that wasn’t something that Palin even said. But the Fey caricature became so embedded in the mind of the public (thanks in no small part to the MSM replaying it as if was something Palin had in fact uttered), that, for all intents and purposes, it became fact that she’d said it.)
For Bachmann, the press is already trying to trip her up on all these comments about the Founding Fathers, is Barack Obama un-American, John Wayne (?!?). The John Wayne issue is a great example. How does that little blip of a non-issue take up so much air time in the mainstream press? But it does because they made it so. It serves no other purpose but to give the appearance that Bachmann is incompetent. How do you go Defcon1 on the John Wayne bit, but then have no comment on Obama not knowing how old one of his daughters is?
The press is already aware that Bachmann is craftier than Palin was in 2008 at handling questions. They know she can handle herself. So the point won’t be to catch her in a question they think she won’t know the answer to. Their objective will be to focus on questions the press can harp on and blow out of proportion. They’ll focus on Tea Party areas, Obama’s background, the abortion issue, gays, and also try to get her to talk about socialism. Any topic that makes her look like a right wing radical (refer to Rand Paul’s troubles with MSNBC). Anything, as long as they avoid substantive discussions about the economy (i.e. Obama’s glaring weakness).
It’ll be interesting to see how they attack her on the abortion or even the gay marriage issue given her principled position on the rights of the states to determine their laws (even if they run contrary to her own beliefs).
They’ll certainly go after her on details and particulars. Some part of the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. Refer to Palin’s recent media drama over the Paul Revere issue. The truth is, most MSM reporters and journalists don’t seem to have as nuanced an understanding of their history as they should. They themselves don’t know the difference between myth and reality, so how they can judge a GOP candidate’s knowledge of history. My fear is that all this great discussion about nuance and details from the past will only serve to make candidates less willing to have a dialogue about them. If Obama trips on important facts and details, it’ll be swept under the rug. If Bachmann messes up on something trivial, it’ll be front and center and it will be overhyped until apolitical Americans simply assume out of shear exhaustion that she doesn’t know anything.
2. The specter of shady dealings: Take some part of the GOP candidate’s past and imply nefarious intent. Cover the story to make it look like the candidate is hiding something even if she is being forthright and transparent.
The other thing the media attempted to do with Palin was stain her with what they portrayed to be the seemingly serious promise of scandal and corruption from her tenure as Governor of Alaska. None of these issues came to anything. There was Troopergate, there was Todd Palin’s role in some administrative tasks, etc. etc. Has anything stuck? Has she been found guilty of anything?
At least with the Clinton’s where there was smoke there actually was a huge forest fire! Whitewater (someone went to jail), Travelgate, Monica, Gennifer Flowers, Juanita Broderick, etc. If there was the whiff of impropriety in the Clinton administration, chances were Billy was being a bad, bad boy.
Palin and Bachmann? Not so much.
(I’m going to guarantee there’s going to be some kind of investigation regarding Bachmann’s 23 foster kids. The legitimacy of the paper work, any information on each child as a reflection on Michelle Bachmann’s worth as a President. And look for this Minnesota RNC guy, and ex-Bachmann staffer, Ron Carey, to be the press’s new favorite interview and character witness over the next few months. How has he not already showed up on CNN or MSNBC??)
Already the media is going into “serious investigative journalist” mode with these stories about how Bachmann’s husband accepted Medicare payments at his clinic. (Oh, the horror! Bachmann shouldn’t be accepting any form of payment for services rendered!). What’s the endgame of this story? To prove that Bachmann is a hypocrite about her desire to decrease the scope of government?? So her husband shouldn’t accept Medicare payments?
Where is the big five-part investigation on Michelle Obama’s Urban Health Initiative, aka Michele Obama’s role in a shady patient dumping scandal? Where’s Anderson Cooper, Keepin’ ‘Em Honest? Where’s Diane and George with the hard-hitting investigation? Or are they just outsourcing Democrat scandals to the National Enquirer as they did with the John Edwards’ love child? Still waiting for ABC’s hard-hitting exposes on criminal mobster and convict, Tony Rezko, and that land deal with Obama in Chicago.