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June 28, 2011

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Nice follow-up Brendan. Thanks.

IMHO PolitiFact has been biased in their overly kind coverage of Barack Obama's statements. E.g., his assertion that under the Democratic-steered health care overhaul, "if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan." This assertion was preposterous for two reasons. A recent survey showed that 1/3 of employers intend to drop their health plan because of Obamacare. And, even those who keep their plan will not be offereing the same plan, because the health care bill mandates significant changes in existing plans. PolitiFact did not rate Obama's claim as Pants on Fire or False. Amazingly, they found a way to criticize somone who disputed Obama's false statement

However, even taking PolitiFact at face value, I'm unclear why Brendan thinks the PolitiFact record makes Bachman a flake. Let's compare Bachman with the President. PolitiFact lists 93 Barely True, False, or Pants on Fire statements made by President Obama, as compared with only 23 for Bachman.

Perhaps Brendan focused on the high percentage of Bachman statements that were rated False or partially False. However, to do that, one would have to assume that PolitiFact's reviewed statements were a random sample, which is not the case.

BTW this article from a Bachman non-supporter, says, "She’s not my kind of candidate. And no one I know supports her." Nevertheless, the article asserts:

Conservative women in politics run a punishing gauntlet. They endure psychological evaluations and near-gynecological exams their male and liberal counterparts do not. The public is force-fed only their gaffes in 10-second fixes, while similar misstatements by the current president are forgiven as momentary lapses.

Bachmann is not crazy, but the media are if they continue to view her as such.
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I also know enough to know that Michele Bachmann has been underestimated and treated unfairly by the mainstream press.

She is now a frontrunner in Iowa. And will likely do well in South Carolina.

She’s gonna be a playah.

Dr K had this to say about the "flake" question:

http://tinyurl.com/3rgrxm2


On Chris Wallace asking Michele Bachmann if she is a “flake”:

Look, it’s simply a convention. If you’re a questioner, the rule is supposed to be, you say: “Other people are calling you a flake, how do you react?” You know, if he had done it that way, nobody would have mentioned anything.

On whether the “flake” question was intrinsically sexist:

I think it’s a legitimate question that you can ask of a male or a female candidate. I would ask it of Ron Paul, and that’s not a sexist thing… He wants to abolish the Fed and FEMA and practically everything. So it’s a legitimate question in some context. I don’t think it’s a matter of sexism.

BTW, I really don't wanna get deep into "media bias" discussions, but is it really a big news story that Bachmann didn't know where John Wayne was born or if JQ Adams is correctly labeled as a "Founding Father"?

Didn't the President just recently mis-identify Medal recipient and you hardly heard a word?

"What a world. What a world."

ISTM it's hard to discuss Bachman without addressing media bias.

1. The media continue to focus on Bachman's errors while pretty much ignoring Obama's many more errors. Imagine what would the media do if Bachman, rather than Obama, had claimed to have campaigned in 57 states.

2. The media give more focus to Bachman's errors, even though Obama has made almost 4 times as many, according to PolitiFact.

3. As MartyB points out, many of Bachman's errors are trivialities.

But, the unfairest part of media bias is when they ding Bachman's accurate statements as errors. E.g., NPR said,

"And she's sticking to her story from several months ago that the founding fathers — several of whom owned slaves — were instrumental in ending slavery.

What Bachman said was, "the very founders that wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States." It is true that many of the founders did indeed try very hard to abolish slavery, although they failed to get it removed from the original Consitution. Despite NPR's smarmy implication, Thomas Jefferson both owned slaves and worked hard to try to abolish the institution of slavery.

Here's another false correction. Bachmann said: “Five decades ago in America, we had less debt that we have today. We had $300 billion or less in debt. A gallon of gasoline was 31 cents."

WaPo's fact-checker (sic) "corrected" her by arguing that one might have looked at inflation-admusted gasoline costs and might have looked at the ratio of debt to GNP. True, but, so what? What Bachman said was entirely accurate.

Here's another Bachman said,

Michele Bachmann accused the administration Sunday of increasing the number of limousines employed for federal use by 73 percent in the last two years, suggesting it as evidence that President Obama is not committed to improving the economy.

CBS said this was inaccurate, because the increase in the budgets for 2010 and 2011 was less than 73%. But, CBS overlooked the fact that Obama also signed the 2009 budget. For the three budgets Obama signed, the total increase in limousines was indeed 73%.

More evidence of biased journalism:

NYT Reports Bachmann's 'John Wayne' Flub, But Ignored Obama's Awful Fallen Soldier Error

(For those who are unaware of Obama's Medal of Honor snafu, President Obama, wrongly claimed in a speech he gave June 23 to the Army's 10th Mountain Division that he had awarded a Medal of Honor to a living soldier. Jared Monti had actually had been killed in Afghanistan in 2006 and had been bestowed the honor posthumously. Obama apologized to the family.)

Another false accusation against Bachman is that she confused John Wayne with serial killer John Wayne Gacy. This accusation has even been spread by supposedly serious news organs like the San Francisco Chronicle and the Washington Post.

The only fact in this sordid mess is that Bachman wrongly said that John Wayne had been born in Waterloo, IA. Someone made up a theory that Bachman was thinking of the birthplace of John Wayne Gacy. In addition to being baseless, this theory seems questionable, because Wayne was born only 150 miles away from Waterloo and because his parents lived in Waterloo at one time. Furthermore, John Wayne Gacy wasn't born in Waterloo, although he did live there for part of his life.

Another ugliness is that this story is generally stated as, "Bachman confused John Wayne with John Wayne Gacy", rather than "Bachman confused the birthplaces of John Wayne and John Wayne Gacy." Someone who can't tell John Wayne from John Wayne Gacy must be a flake!

I draw two conclusions:

1. Bachman cannot be elected President, given the willingness of even the mainstream media to spread false and malicious criticisms.

2. Those who believe and spread these stories are both gullible and nasty-minded.

The New York Times cleverly misleads on the John Wayne Gacy myth without actually lying:

The actor was actually born in Winterset, Iowa, which is about 150 miles southwest of Waterloo. It was John Wayne Gacy, known as the killer clown who raped and murdered 33 teenage boys in the 1970s, who lived in Waterloo.

Note how the Times slips Gacy into the story without pointing out to their reader that they have no basis for believing that Bachman was thinking of Gacy. Also, notice how they say "It was Gacy...who lived in Waterloo," minimizing the fact that he wasn't born there.

Poor Michele Bachman. She gets dinged for being flaky even when recommending sound policy.

Michael Kinsley once said, "A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth." Michele Bachman committed a Kinsley gaffe by calling for an end to the minimum wage. Reporters might have researched economists and pointed out that the overwhelming majority of economists agree that a minimum wage destroys jobs.

However, the media narrative is that that Bachman's a flake. So Greg Sergent's WaPo column ignored the economic correctness of her position. Instead, he focused on its being unusual. He called her position "radical" and labeled her comment a "flub."

Sergent deserves credit for later adding a note about Michael Saltsman, who Sergent had quoted about Bachman's position being unusual. He noted that Saltsman position was that there is broad agreement among economists that raising the minimum wage forces businesses to cut jobs and roll back the hours of their low-skilled workforce.

John Cassidy of the New Yorker doesn't approve of Michele Bachman at all, calling her a "serious threat...to the country."

Nevertheless, he believes she has a good chance to become the Republican nominee and to win the election. If other liberals agree with this POV, that could explain why so many liberal media are going out of their way to delegitimize her by branding her as a flake.

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