Just minutes after Saturday night’s CBS News-National Journal Republican presidential debate, the Michele Bachmann campaign accused debate organizers of “outragous manipulation” by suppressing the number of questions she would receive.
A campaign spokeswoman had emailed organizers trying to set up a post-debate interview with a campaign representative. John Dickerson, the newly-named CBS political director, replied to the thread, which included the spokeswoman:
“Okay let’s keep it loose though since she’s not going to get many questions and she’s nearly off the charts in the hopes that we can get someone else”
The Bachmann campaign posted a screenshot of the email on Facebook and sent a copy to reporters. Campaign manager Keith Nahigian wrote:
“While Michele has been onstage at tonight’s debate demonstrating strong leadership on foreign policy and national security, we received concrete evidence confirming what every conservative already knows – the liberal mainstream media elites are manipulating the Republican debates by purposely suppressing our conservative message and limiting Michele’s questions.”
In the spin room after the debate, Nahigian was fuming about the email and reportedly said, “Jon Dickerson should be fired. He is a piece of s–t. He is a fraud and he should be fired.”
For her part, Bachmann said the incident is an example of media bias.
“I think it’s only respectful to allow the candidates to be able to speak and not intentionally ahead of time make a decision to limit candidates’ opportunity to speak to the American people,” she said, according to CNN.
In an email, a CBS spokeswoman classed the message in question as “a candid exchange about the reality of the circumstances — Bachmann remains at 4 percent in the polls.”
Devin Henry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org