Time Magazine Feeds the Bachmann-tum

The story of Michele Bachmann‘s surging campaign momentum continues, this time courtesy of Beltway reporter Mark Halperin of Time magazine:

Why has Michele Bachmann suddenly become the It candidate?

With her impressive New Hampshire debate performance, Bachmann has gone from a conservative Sarah Palin-lite curiosity to a potential game changer. For two hours onstage with her GOP rivals, Bachmann appeared polished, serene and in command. Her smooth performance was partly the work of a top-shelf team of veteran advisers (manager Ed Rollins, pollster Ed Goeas, forensic coach Brett O’Donnell). They sanded down some of her rough edges but let Bachmann be Bachmann, complete with zinging anti-Obama applause lines and sunny-side-up conservatism.

Halperin gave some advice on what Bachmann needed to do to keep things going:

Most of all: avoid the kinds of gaffes, misstatements, self-promotional moments and wacky behavior that would cause the media and many traditional Republicans to–once again–write her off.

Huh. Remember that this was a debate where her economic plan boiled down to calling for certain government agencies to be abolished– especially the Environmental Protection Agency, which she called the “Job Killing Organization of America.” That didn’t cause the media to write her off–or most voters, either, since they mostly didn’t hear about it.

Or when she said:

The Congressional Budget Office has said that Obamacare will kill 800,000 jobs. What could the president be thinking by passing a bill like this, knowing full well it will kill 800,000 jobs?

This is, as you might expect, not true. But maybe it qualifies as “sunny-side-up conservatism.”

It’s not just Halperin, though. Time columnist Joe Klein writes:

Bachmann is often linked with Palin as a Tea Party pinup, but she is a different breed of cat: She knows her stuff. She actually gives factual, informed answers. She lacks Palin’s bitter, solipsistic edge. She skillfully framed even her most extreme responses in an amenable way, smothering her opposition to abortion in cases of rape and incest within a paean to the sanctity of life.

If you scan the debate transcript, Bachmann didn’t give many factual answers to any of the questions. (This is probably not all that unusual in a debate.) When she tried to–see above about the 800,000 lost jobs–her “fact” was totally inaccurate. As has been the pattern in the past with her–like when she claimed on CBS there was a study showing 30 percent of doctors were leaving the field due to the healthcare law. There is no such study. CBS viewers didn’t know the truth, and it seems like journalists are unwilling to tell people that Michele Bachmann’s not telling the truth.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.