It's normal for the opposition party to deliver a rebuttal address to the State of the Union. Last night Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin was given that responsibility. But further-to-the-right Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota delivered the "Tea Party" response to the State of the Union, which was initially scheduled to air on the Tea Party Express website.
That is, until CNN decided it would air it on television. Which meant, as Washington Monthly's Steve Benenput it, CNN broadcast "the president's address, followed by a speech by a far-right Republican, and then followed by another speech by a different far-right Republican."
In response toCNN's justification–that the Tea Party is a "major political force"–he wonders:
Would CNN be inclined to air a SOTU response from the AFL-CIO? Labor unions are a major political force.
I think we know the answer to that one.
The Washington Post, meanwhile, voiced an odd concern about all this in a news article today, wondering whether the GOP message would get lost in the shuffle:
This year, the dueling responses probably made it even harder for either Republican to be heard.
Would viewers remember Ryan, using only his expressive face to convey worry about the debt? Or would they remember Bachmann's screen, which showed bar graphs and patriotic images behind her? At one point, she showed the iconic photo of Marines raising an American flag over Iwo Jima in World War II.
I don't think many people would worry about their own political point of view getting too much uninterrupted TV time.