I’ll be on KMSP-TV, the local Fox affiliate, tonight to discuss Michele Bachmann’s complaints about not getting enough questions and airtime during the recent debates. They tell me my segment will air about 9:45 on Channel 9.
My Minnpost teammates Devin Henry and Brian Lambert have already discussed the brouhaha here and here. I’ll be on the tube opposite political strategist Darin Broton. Here’s what I plan to say, if I get enough time and the right questions:
- The poor CBS shnook is not the first and will not the last to be embarrassed by the 21st century mistake of not noticing that an email was being cc’d to parties who weren’t supposed to see it. (Note to self: Don’t do that.)
- It has long been obvious that the debates give more questions, more airtime, and even more central physical positions on the stage to the poll leaders.
- I’m not comfortable with how poll-driven our politics are. This cycle especially, when the “top tier” keeps changing, should give us pause about what exactly we are measuring. I don’t personally endorse the practice of parceling out the air time in a debate according to the poll rankings, but there are about a hundred more serious systemic problems with the way our democracy is working that I would fix first.
- Bachmann got the benefit of this poll-parceling practice during her brief tenure as a top-tier candidate, as measured by polls. She didn’t complain about it at the time, even though it was just as “unfair” to Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman, who have never received equal time because they have never had a significant bounce in the polls. And Gov. Rick Perry, the very candidate who displaced Bachmann in the polls and in the space and time he received in debates that occurred during his brief tenure in the top tier, is now getting the same lesser treatment that Bachmann is.
- In fact, several candidates for the Republican nomination have been entirely excluded from all or most of the debates based on their low poll numbers. I don’t believe Bachmann and her staff have complained about the unfair treatment of former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, for example, who has been included in only one or two of the debates. If Bachmann has indeed complained about the unfairness to Johnson, I hereby retract and apologize for this paragraph.
- Bachmann and her spokesters also allege that Bachmann was a victim of liberal media bias. Campaign manager Keith Nahigian alleges that the heinous refusal to give Bachmann more airtime proves that “the liberal mainstream media elites are manipulating the Republican debates by purposely suppressing our conservative message and limiting Michele’s questions.” OMG, have you watched these debates? Is there a far-right policy position that has not been uttered and re-re-uttered? I guess lefties will have to complain that liberalism is not being treated fairly in the debates.
Bachmann, by the way, got her own 12 solid minutes to filibuster David Gregory’s questions on Meet the Press. Does she believe the Sunday shows are obliged to work out an equal time arrangement among all the contenders? Perhaps she will sponsor a bill to create a government agency to regulate this.