After leading the charge in Minnesota earlier this year to set a new standard for calling U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann out for her radical extremism, the St. Cloud Times on Sunday backslid into the longstanding pattern of Minnesota media to gloss over or simply fail to report the full extent of Bachmann’s political paranoia and extremism.
Of particular concern, the stunning reversal in the largest newspaper published inside Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District comes in the wake of an Oct. 14 piece of front-page fluff in the New York Times and two sanitized Bachmann profiles at CNN.com earlier this month.
Correction (11/24/09) — This blog earlier reported that Times Washington correspondent Larry Bivens conducted his interview by email. That is incorrect. Bivens interviewed Bachmann face-to-face on Thursday, Nov. 19, for about half and hour. The email interview was conducted by Matt Snyders for the Twin Cities alternative newspaper City Pages.
Following is the published text of Bivens’ interview, annotated and supplemented by critical content missing from the St. Cloud Times puff-piece.
By Larry Bivins
Times Washington correspondent
St. Cloud Times
November 22, 2009
WASHINGTON – Since her inaugural year in office, Rep. Michele Bachmann has drawn national attention, mostly through statements her opponents have labeled outrageous.
Bachmann’s statements are outrageous on their face, irrespective of how her opponents might characterize them:
Bachmann: “Slit Our Wrists” (Sept. 2, 2009)
While critics ridicule her, supporters shower her with praise.
Bachmann Stunt Back to Roots (Nov. 1, 2009)
Sign displayed at a rally Michele Bachmann
keynoted at the Minnesota State Capitol in 2004.
Many of the thousands of conservative activists who attended a Nov. 5 rally in Washington to protest a Democratic health care reform plan came to see and hear Bachmann.
Bachmann Rebuked for Nazi Image (Nov. 12, 2009)
Sign displayed at U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s “House Call on Congress” anti-health care reform rally in Washington, D.C., Nov. 5, 2009. The sign reads, “National Socialist Health Care: Dachau, Germany – 1945.” (Photo credit: Lee Fang / ThinkProgress)
She has been called the voice – and the face – of the conservative movement.
Supporters at Rep. Michele Bachmann’s “House Call” protest against health care reform at the U.S. Capitol, Nov. 5, 2009. (Photo credit: Graham Moomaw / The Washington Independent)
The Stillwater Republican discussed her star status and other issues in a recent interview.
Question: Time magazine called you the new voice of the conservative movement.
How do you view your role?
ANSWER: I feel like I’m just here doing my job, because of the issues weve been confronted with within the last few months, like the government takeover of one-sixth of the economy, and the energy issue with the cap and trade. That’s a major issue, where again the federal government is taking control over 8 percent of the private industry. So I feel all I am doing is weighing in and doing my job. I’m not trying to be a national voice.
Bachmann on the Media Circuit (March 9, 2009)
Bachmann sounds the socialism alarm.
(Photo credit: CNN / Getty Images)
Q: You certainly have developed a national following. Does this hurt or help your political career, particularly as you look toward the election next fall?
A: What I hear from people back in my district is, “Thank you, Michele. Thank you so much for fighting for us. Keep it up. Don’t give up. We want you to keep fighting.” I get a very strong affirmation from people back home.
Bachmann ‘Wingnut of the Week’ (May 10, 2009)
Bachmann Says “I’m Not a Kook” (March 28, 2009)
Q: Critics point to your appearances on talk shows and your national following and wonder whether they’re distractions from representing the 6th District of Minnesota. How would you respond?
A: I would say that I’m exactly doing my job, representing the people of the 6th District, because I’m fighting for them.
Bachmann’s Census Paranoia (June 27, 2009)
Credit: Steve Sack, Minneapolis Star-Tribune
Bachmann Brainwashing Paranoia (April 8, 2009)
[Answer continued:] I think my critics are fearful that the other side of the story is getting out there. That’s one thing I’ve been able to do, is put out on the air our possible alternatives. We have positive solutions about how to lower the unemployment rate and a better way to do health care reform.
Bachmann Call for Armed Revolt? (March 24, 2009)
Q: Gov. Tim Pawlenty said on MSNBC that moderates need to fall in line with the conservative base of the Republican Party. Do you agree?
Dems Link Pawlenty, Bachmann (Sept. 20, 2009)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty speaking at the Values Voter Summit in Washington on Friday, Sept. 18, 2009. (Photo credit: Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times)
A: I think that he’s accurate that they would do well to come over to the conservative position, because that is where the greatest percentage of Americans are today. After all, we have to remember we rule by the consent of the governed, and so it’s important for us to be where the people are, and people don’t like this idea of big government and they don’t like spending more money than we have.
Bachmann Big Spender (June 20, 2009)
Rep. Michele Bachmann spent more than $100,000 on printing and franked mail in the first quarter. (Photo credit: John Shinkle / Politico)
The Princess of Pork (March 18, 2009)
Q: Do you have any national aspirations?
A: No, I don’t. Because I’m not aspiring to the next step, that frees me to fully work on behalf of the people I’m serving. I’m not here to make sure my paycheck continues into the future, and I’m not here to make sure I become the next governor of Minnesota or the next senator of Minnesota or anything beyond that.
Bachmann Eyes ‘Madam President’ (Sept. 9, 2009)
Q: You’ve been described as Democrats’ Public Enemy No. 1 [Note: by Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity and by Bachmann herself]. How do you feel about being a target?
A: In being forceful and fighting for the positions that I’m standing for, I obviously must pose a threat for liberals advancing their agenda. I say that because I grew up a Democrat in a Democrat family. My husband and I both worked on Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign. The first time I ever came to Washington was to dance at Walter Mondale’s inaugural ball. It was a thrill for my husband and me, and we were both happy to work on behalf of Walter Mondale and Jimmy Carter. We really believed in them when we were in college. So in some ways I don’t understand why the Democratic Party would be opposed to me, because I stand for the same values that my parents stood for when we were Democrats.
Bachmann Ignites Truth-O-Meter (May 6, 2009)
In the 1970s, “the swine flu broke out . . . under another Democrat president, Jimmy Carter.”
— Michele Bachmann on Monday, April 27, 2009 in an interview with Pajamas Media.
Q: A lot has been made of some of your statements – the “gangster government” comment, the “anti-American” comment [link added]. Is there anything you’ve said that you regret?
A: Oh, gosh, absolutely. Of course, I wish I could be more artful in the way that I say things.
[Answer continued:] But the other thing I’ve noticed that is kind of interesting is it seems like there’s also a double standard and bias in the mainstream media. Polls today say that the American people more than ever think the mainstream media is biased in favor of the liberal position. And so conservatives, especially conservative women, are held to a completely different standard than liberals.
Bachmann Plays Victim – Again (Aug. 14, 2009)
Two Great Americans (Aug. 17, 2009)
“I think the purpose of the town halls is for people to be able to express their views in an orderly and respectful manner, and that needs to take place on both sides,” said McMorris Rodgers, the fifth-ranking Republican in the House. “I certainly don’t condone violence, I don’t condone calling President Obama Hitler and painting swastikas on signs at town halls,” continued McMorris Rodgers, vice chairwoman of the GOP conference. McMorris Rodgers is the first member of the House Republican leadership to decry the Nazi comparisons.
By Bill Prendergast
Minnesota Progressive Project
November 23, 2009
It turns out that the City Pages isn’t the only local organ to run a crap “interview” with Michele Bachmann this week.
The St. Cloud Times has done the same thing. Their Washington correspondent is a Gannett News Service guy name Larry Bivins. He filed a story from Washington that purports to be an interview with Bachmann.
The Strib claims that there is news value in Bachmann’s answer to the last question in the interview — a question regarding possible regrets that she might have about charges of “anti-Americans” and “gangster government” in Washington.
Nah. No news value there, unless the interviewer asks her a follow up about her most recent remarks on these themes. With dates, the quotations, etc. And there’s no news value unless the interviewer asks Bachmann whether she regrets particular statements she’s made throughout her career: with the dates, the quotations, etc. …
St. Cloud Times gives Bachmann free pass
(Hart Van Denburg, City Pages, Nov. 23, 2009)
Related reports on this site
Bachmann Reels in CNN (Nov. 18, 2009)
Bachmann Headlines British Press (Nov. 16, 2009)
New York Times Bachmann Fluff (Oct. 29, 2009)
Michele Bachmann Unmasked (July 20, 2009)
Bachmann: MN Press Pushes Back (May 3, 2009)
FROM THE ARCHIVES: Two Years Ago — November 23, 2008
One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on Sunday, Nov. 23, 2008, I took a break from reporting on events relevant to my campaign issues and filed no report.
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