Monday, June 27, 2011

Forgive me for asking, but...

So there's this flap right now after Fox News' Chris Wallace asked Representative Michele Bachmann if she's "a flake."  Bear in mind, she's said some things that other, less sympathetic audiences have called just plain crazy.  So for a bona fide newsman in a bona fide interview (albeit on Fox;  you decide) to ask her that question seems pretty reasonable to me.  In fact, given that it was Fox, Wallace probably thought he was throwing her a softball.  He certainly should not be apologizing unless it's a blanket apology for Fox News generally.  If newsmen start apologizing for questions they ask, well there'll be no end to it.  Most reporters' questions have the potential to offend the questionee.

"Of course, I'm not a flake!" she might have said.  And then she could have gone on with her recitation of her bona fides.  Which she did.  Which, incidentally, are pretty impressive.

I recall several years ago on the Today show, Bryant Gumbel said, in a question to former President Jimmy Carter, something along the lines of "you're widely thought of as perhaps the most ineffective President in history."  Gumbel may have phrased it along the lines of "what would say to those who say," and perhaps this is what Wallace should have done.

Carter's response was that he thought that such an assertion would be harsh and unfair and then he went on to respond with his bona fides.  That was it.  No apology from Gumbel (who was playing a newsman at the time.)

For Bachmann, it's a fair question. She's been quoted as saying some flakey things (virtually everyone in public life has, by the way.)  In today's media environment she's been called worse and will be called worse than that before this whole election thing is over.  It's the world we live in so she should be prepared to dispel the notion.

Uphill battle for her, in my opinion, but best of luck to her.  This IS America, after all.