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They Love to Hate Her: The Left-Wing Media's Love Affair with Michele Bachmann

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1 out of 5 Minnesota Independent reports have featured Bachmann over the past 6 months; coverage of the Congresswoman rose to nearly 1 out of 3 this March

While Republican U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann has been criticized by her opponents - both political and in the left-leaning media - for her aggressive travel schedule and frequent media appearances, there is little doubt the conservative Congresswoman inspires the quill of her new media detractors.

While the laser-like focus on bringing about Bachmann's defeat is the raison d'etre of at least one Minnesota blog, a prominent left-leaning publication is also demonstrating an increased concentration on Bachmann in their reporting - nurturing a love-hate relationship that is now in full bloom.

A Smart Politics analysis of nearly 900 articles published by the Minnesota Independent over the last six months finds Bachmann to be the centerpiece of 20.1 percent of its reporting - and rising almost every month to 30 percent this March.

The Minnesota Independent is one of the most-read left-leaning new media publications in Minnesota, and is published by The American Independent News Network, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, which "Investigates and disseminates news that impacts public debate and advances the common good" driven by the belief that "An informed citizenry is a fundamental principle of civil society and American democracy."

Such investigations are inordinately centering around Congresswoman Bachmann.

While Representative Bachmann drew national attention (e.g. the New York Times) for her frequent media appearances after a report published here at Smart Politics in August calculated her appearances on national cable television as once per every nine days, the Minnesota Independent is doing its part to keep Bachmann in the news - averaging one story per day on the Congresswoman over the past six months.

Smart Politics' analysis of the 884 articles published by the Minnesota Independent across the last 182 days since October 1, 2009, finds 178 were focused on Congresswoman Bachmann - many of which were implicitly or explicitly critical of her. (All Minnesota Independent articles were analyzed, whether tagged as political coverage or not; Bachmann's share of political coverage is even higher).

Bachmann is by far the most covered Minnesota officeholder by the publication - with Governor Tim Pawlenty coming in second (112 articles, 12.7 percent), followed by Al Franken (51 articles, 5.8 percent), and Keith Ellison (24 articles, 2.7 percent).

Minnesota Independent Coverage of Leading Minnesota Political Officeholders, October 2009 - March 2010

Officeholder
Reports
Percent
Michele Bachmann
178
20.1
Tim Pawlenty
112
12.7
Al Franken
51
5.8
Keith Ellison
24
2.7
Erik Paulsen
16
1.8
Amy Klobuchar
16
1.8
Jim Oberstar
13
1.5
Tim Walz
13
1.5
John Kline
12
1.4
Collin Peterson
10
1.1
Betty McCollum
8
0.9
Data compiled by Smart Politics.

Representative Bachmann, of course, has always been a lightning rod figure for the left, and the Minnesota Independent is increasingly focused on her controversial words and publishing the words of her critics.

In October 2009, 14.4 percent of the left-leaning publication's coverage centered on Bachmann (27 stories), rising to 18.3 percent in November (31 stories), and then down slightly in December, though still tallying an impressive one-sixth of its total coverage (24 articles, 16.6 percent).

In 2010, however, the focus on Bachmann has skyrocketed - accounting for a full quarter of its coverage from January through March. In January, 19.9 percent of Minnesota Independent reporting focused on Bachmann (30 stories), rising to 26.5 percent in February (26 stories), and 29.9 percent in March (40 stories).

In short, the amount of space devoted to Bachmann by the Minnesota Independent has more than doubled from October (14.4 percent) to March (29.9 percent).

Minnesota Independent Coverage of Michele Bachmann, October 2009 - March 2010

Month
Reports
Total
Percent
October 2009
27
187
14.4
November 2009
31
169
18.3
December 2009
24
145
16.6
January 2010
30
151
19.9
February 2010
26
98
26.5
March 2010
40
134
29.9
Total
178
884
20.1
Data compiled by Smart Politics.

And how can one publication, which releases approximately five articles per day, possibly find enough material to feed their craving of all things Bachmann?

A content analysis of Minnesota Independent reporting revealed there to be four general rules, illustrated below by examples from the past few months in the publication.

Rule #1: Follow Bachmann's travel schedule:

Bachmann to Campaign in Duluth, Moorhead (March 23, 2010)
Bachmann Headed to Iowa (March 17, 2010)
Bachmann Headed to Tampa (March 2, 2010)
Bachmann pulls out of Tea Party convention (January 28, 2010)
Bachmann headed to St. Louis with Glenn Beck (January 25, 2010)
Bachmann to speak in California next week (January 21, 2010)
Bachmann Ohio Bound (December 28, 2009)

Rule #2: Track Bachmann's words:

Bachmann: Nancy Pelosi hates me (February 24, 2010)
Bachmann at CPAC: Watch Out for Obama's Thought Police (February 19, 2010)
Bachmann: America 'cursed' by God 'if we reject Israel' (February 8, 2010)
Bachmann: Obama 'wants to annihilate us!' (February 5, 2010)
Despite "slit wrists" comment, Bachmann says bloody imagery's "not me!" (January 22, 2010)

Rule #3: Report on Bachmann's critics:

Liberal group to air ad targeting Bachmann's health care vote (March 21, 2010)
In new web ad, Clark hits Bachmann on Social Security (March 10, 2010)
Bachmann calls Social Security a 'fraud,' Franni Franken calls views 'terrifying' (February 18, 2010)
New ads to target Bachmann on Social Security privatization (February 18, 2010)
Opponents slam Bachmann on Social Security, Medicare plan (February 10, 2010)

Rule #4: Inject Bachmann into reports on other political races:

Hagedorn: Quist too close to Bachmann, too controversial (March 31, 2010)
Bachmann continues to haunt neighboring district's Dems (January 5, 2010)
A district away, Bachmann's name invoked in Dem Hackett's fundraising appeal (December 30, 2009)

And when there is no hard Bachmann political news to report, lighter fare will suffice, such as an article on Bachmann toilet paper.

But Michele Bachmann has not always been cast as the leading character in the Minnesota Independent's reporting.

In October 2009, Tim Pawlenty received the plurality of coverage by the publication, with 37 articles (19.8 percent) focused on the Republican governor.

However, despite Pawlenty's ongoing 2012 presidential flirtations and a grueling budget battle at the Capitol this session, Minnesota Independent's coverage of Pawlenty has decreased each month - both in absolute terms and as a proportion of all reporting.

In November 2009 the Minnesota Independent published 24 stories on Pawlenty, for 14.2 percent of its total coverage, declining to 19 stories in December (13.1 percent), 16 stories in January (10.6 percent), 9 stories in February (9.2 percent), and 7 stories in March (5.2 percent).

In sum, there were more than five times more articles written about Pawlenty six months ago than today, accounting for a 74 percent drop in reporting by the left-leaning publication on the Governor during this span.

Minnesota Independent Coverage of Tim Pawlenty, October 2009 - March 2010

Month
Reports
Total
Percent
October 2009
37
187
19.8
November 2009
24
169
14.2
December 2009
19
145
13.1
January 2010
16
151
10.6
February 2010
9
98
9.2
March 2010
7
134
5.2
Total
112
884
12.7
Data compiled by Smart Politics.

With the soaring coverage of Bachmann by the Minnesota Independent currently tallying almost one-third of all its reporting, one wonders what will fill the publication's pages if the moderately-favored incumbent should lose her bid for a third term this November.

Perhaps the left, or at least the left-leaning media, thus secretly hopes the Congresswoman is victorious once again, so they can continue their love-hate affair that has now developed into nearly a half-decade long relationship.

Now that would be a story.

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5 Comments


  • Can we really extrapolate about the "left-wing media" from a site that since February has had only one full-time employee? A fair analysis would be to look at a range of left-leaning sites from Minnesota.

  • Question : Did your analysis (as listed in the first chart) not include John Kline ... or was he below the cut-off ?

    Question : It's a chicken-and-egg question. Did you analysis evaluate other media to determine if MNIndp was the first and only to report that story or were they one of many that did ?

    Question : Doesn't MNIndp have a sister publication that covers Iowa (IowaIndependent) ... did you review Steve King's exposure ?

    Question : How many of these stories were generated by Ms. Bachmann's prominance on media outlets .... I have seen reports alerting potential viewers that Ms. Bachmann will be on a certain program tonight, thus aren't they reporting what she wants reported.

    Question : Did you compare MNIndp to other prominent bloggers that support Ms. Bachmann ... is she also generating large amount of attention.

    Comment : I'm sorry, but this is a nice analysis that is really meaningless. Wouldn't MNIndp be responding to what generates "hits" and comments ... Bachmann may be like the Vikings ... it's what the readers want even in the off-season .... and she makes "news". Considering that some prominent Fact Checking services have frequently evaluated some of her assertions, tells me that MNIndp needs to stay on the story.

    Lastly, I have to confess, I rarely read MNIndependent ... its not a prime source, so they may not be generating the attention that they want. I generally peruse about a half dozen sites every day and they are about 10 on my list, so by that time, I've read enough for any day.

  • > Question : Did your analysis (as listed in the first chart) not
    > include John Kline ... or was he below the cut-off ?

    12 articles (1.4 percent) featured Rep. Kline. The first table is now updated to reflect this data - thanks.

  • I know the GOP and Michelle Bachmann are controversial, and liberals love to write smears to discredit them any way possible (Saul Alinsky style) but...
    This absolutely takes the cake!
    This is proof there needs to be basic intelligence tests to run for congress.

    You ready?
    Hold on to your chair, you may fall out of it while laughing!

    http://washingtonscene.thehill.com/in-the-know/36-news/3169-rep-hank-johnson-guam-could-tip-over-and-capsize
    or
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNZczIgVXjg&feature=player_embedded

    I mean WOW!!! This guy was dead serious with what he was saying. Did this guy pass the 4th grade?
    Democrat or should I say "Dumbcrap"?

    Hank Johnson absolutely is prooving himself to be the epitome of a moron. Talk about saying "crazy" things. I think Michelle Bachmann has been outdone by leaps and bounds by this nut-job!

  • Please remind me what meaningful legislation the congresswoman has passed during her time spent in office.

  • Leave a comment


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