Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

Shallow 'Rolling Stone' Hit Piece is Just What Michele Bachmann Needed

The backlash against the lashing out against presidential candidate Michele Bachmann has already begun. Following the Palin blueprint, Bachmann plans on fully leveraging the negative publicity with her base: they see leftist attacks as a point of pride and an indication of strength.

This outpouring of disgust is coming at the expense of the excellent local bloggers in Minnesota who have long tracked and fact-checked Bachmann. Their work will be the uncredited foundation of probably every Bachmann hit piece you'll read between now and 2012. It's begun with the self-destructive chewing-out that Matt Taibbi gave Bachmann in Rolling Stone.

"He did prove my point about clueless journalists making Stillwater out to be another Wasilla full of wingnuts," said Karl Bremer, editor of the Ripple in Stillwater blog—a reporter who's been covering Michele Bachmann so extensively that he instantly catches when publications use two Ls in her first name.

Bremer has a vested interest in protecting Stillwater, Minnesota's reputation. He's a town native. He calls it a "great place to live" and three days before the Rolling Stone piece described it as a "a Midwestern version of a Currier & Ives set piece" with "no black people," the "perfect launching pad" for a "retro-Stepford" candidate, Bremer published an essay wondering "Is Stillwater the next Wasilla?" In it, Bremer predicted the future by addressing Rolling Stone's lazy contentions about Bachmann and Stillwater. Bremer wrote:

In defense of my own hometown of Stillwater, I have to inform them that if they are looking for the typical Bachmann Teabagger voter, they are more likely to find them elsewhere in the 6th District, since Bachmann has failed to carry Stillwater in any of her three congressional races. In fact, it wasn’t until she moved to ultraconservative West Lakeland Township, which went for Tom Emmer over Mark Dayton by a margin of more than 2:1 in 2010, that Bachmann ever managed to even carry her own precinct.

After pointing out that nearby Wright County, the home of right-wing nutballs Tom Emmer and Bradlee Dean is the source of her power, Bremer said, "Nonetheless, the parade of media to the Birthplace of Minnesota on the St. Croix is likely to continue."

The parade of uncredited use of material from Ripple in Stillwater, and several other Minnesota blogs that have dogged Bachmann for years now, is likely to continue as well. Publications such as the Minneapolis City Pages and the Dump Bachmann blog have been the original sources of numerous stories about Bachmann's career foibles.

For example, in the Rolling Stone piece, Taibbi writes:

"For the most part, though, Bachmann's upbringing seems like pure Americana, a typical Midwestern girl who was 'in a couple of beauty pageants' and 'not overtly political,' according to her stepbrother Michael LaFave."

Compare that to the 2006 City Pages profile of Bachmann, "The Chosen One," which interviewed LaFave:

"By his own admission, LaFave, 51 years old and a union representative who lives in Forest Lake, did not get to know his new stepsister all that well. 'I remember that she was book-smart, and did pretty well in school,' he recalls. 'And she was in a couple of beauty pageants…. She was not overtly political.'"

Another passage from that same 2006 City Pages profile:

Stephens and other parents soon had confrontational meetings with Bachmann and the rest of the charter school group. 'One member of Michele's entourage talked about how he had visions, and that God spoke to him directly,' Stephens says. 'He told us that as Christians we had to lay our lives down for it. I remember getting in the car with my husband afterward and telling him, 'This is a cult.'

Rolling Stone:

'One member of Michele's entourage talked about how he had visions, and that God spoke to him directly,' recalled Denise Stephens, a parent who was opposed to the religious curriculum at New Heights. 'He told us that as Christians we had to lay our lives down for it. I remember getting in the car with my husband afterward and telling him, 'This is a cult."

City Pages, 2006:

'I came in wearing jeans, a sweatshirt and moccasins, and I had no makeup on at all,' the story quotes Bachmann as saying. 'I had not one piece of literature, I had made not one phone call, and spent not five cents and I did not solicit a vote.'

Rolling Stone:

'I came in wearing jeans, a sweatshirt and moccasins, and I had no makeup on at all,' she said. 'I had made not one phone call, and spent not five cents, and I did not solicit a vote.'

Rolling Stone executive editor Eric Bates told me that this was his doing—that due to space concerns, two of Taibbi's original notes attributing work to the City Pages piece had been removed, to save space.

Bates added that he would "get some links included in the story online."

That particular City Pages profile is sure to be one of the most-borrowed texts of the upcoming election cycle. (The Daily Beast June 15th profile of Marcus Bachmann was noble enough to cite it.) Written before Bachmann was known outside even her own district, it captures quotes by those in Bachmann's orbit before the rising star was able to clamp them down. G.R. Anderson Jr., the author of that City Pages profile, did an earlier profile of Bachmann "Somebody Say Oh Lord!" in 2005.

Long before Bachmann landed in the national consciousness, let alone on a presidential ballot, Bachmann bloggers were already fighting for credit.

In 2007, Bremer broke the story about how even when Bachmann was voting her public anti-government handout values, she was collecting more than $47,000 in federal farm subsidies on "a 949-acre Wisconsin farming operation in which Bachmann owns up to a quarter-million-dollars interest." Bremer also revealed that "the Bachmann Farm Family Limited Partnership has collected as much as $127,868 in federal farm subsidies since the partnership was established in 2001." When Bremer asked blog TruthDig for credit when it republished his story, uncredited, Bremer says its editor, Robert Scheer, told him "You don't have a copyright on the facts."

The Rolling Stone story briefly mentions the subsidy.

Bremer has continued to chase this subsidies story, noting that in 2011, Bachmann’s father-in-law Paul is still registered as agent and general partner for the family farm. Paul Bachmann died in 2009.

(Bremer also contends that Rolling Stone's comment on his research about Bachmann's farm subsidies is wrong and that Bachmann, not just her father-in-law, financially benefitted as well.)

The Dump Bachmann blog was started in 2004 by a lesbian Minnesotan who had become outraged by Bachmann's anti-gay agenda. A year later, Ken Avidor and Karl Bremer begin contributing. Avidor says that he never really signed on for this, that he wishes for a day where Bachmann is no longer worth covering. "I'm sympathetic to the national media," he told me. "Here comes this person and suddenly they all need all this information and, well, there's just so much shit. So much." Avidor, who also drew and inked the "Dump Bachmann Trading Cards," slams the local media for dropping the ball, saying that the self-censoring "Minnesota nice" practiced by papers like the Star Tribune seems much like the old gag rule is still in effect.

Last year, Bremer spun off to begin Ripple in Stillwater. "I started Ripple last fall because I got tired of getting submissions rejected by other media. Figured if I was going to give my work away at least I should get the credit for it," he said. Stories are still often cross-posted at the two blogs.

Credit he got. In June 2011, Bremer won an award for “Best Use of Public Records” from the Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists for his story on Bachmann donor Bobby Thompson. The story resulted in an investigation and conviction of Thompson by the state's financial disclosure board. (And Dump Bachmann/Ripple in Stillwater are not exclusively about Michele. During the 2010 election, Bremer also broke the story about GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer's malpractice lawsuit.)

The laundry list of stories broken by this Dump Bachmann-Stillwater crew represents a trove of original reporting on the congresswoman. For campaign trail reporters looking for the crib notes, Avidor suggests Dump Bachmann's "skeleton closet" page, a list of all the best bits from seven years of coverage.

While Rolling Stone and many others focus on the sensational anti-gay storylines that play well to the coastal elite choir, Bremer and Avidor have been the leading muckrakers in Bachmann's connection to the Petters ponzi scheme, which might end up being far more damaging to her campaign.

Bremer broke the story on Bachmann's "pardongate," a 2007 request from the congresswoman to pardon a donor of hers, Frank Vennes Jr. Vennes, a Petters Ponzi scheme accomplice, was later indicted for fraud and money-laundering. Avidor has been covering the trail in a separate blog, Vennes Info. Vennes represents the near-entirely uncovered corruption angle of Bachmann's career. Avidor suggests that if Vennes pleads not guilty, Bachmann could be compelled to testify at his trial—not the best of looks for a candidate mid-campaign.

It's forgivable that Rolling Stone's take-down is at best re-reported and at worst poorly sourced. It's less forgivable that it's self-detonating. It's a screed that warns America that Michele Bachmann is to be taken seriously—right before doing exactly the opposite.

The profile is the kind of battle-axing of Bachmann that is going to do great pageviews for the magazine but ultimately play right into her hand. It gives Bachmann legitimate evidence that the fabled leftist mainstream media is attacking her. Consequently, it will make her more popular with a base that looks for which conservative leader is being most reviled in the media, and then assumes that person is their best bet. (It's not a coincidence that Tim Pawlenty has completely avoided harsh criticism from the MSM while at the same time being unable to gain traction with Tea Party-influenced primary voters.)

Not only is the profile unnecessarily mean, it's sloppy.

One of the original sources Taibbi does quote at length as a huge Stillwater critic of Bachmann is Mary Cecconi. Cecconi ran against Bachmann for a school board position. [Editor's Note, added June 24th: Cecconi emailed with a request that it be made clear that it was Bachmann who ran against her; Cecconi was the incumbent. While we are happy to amplify, we are also happy to note that Cecconi ran for office and Michele Bachmann was her opponent.] She has been a registered lobbyist since 2006 for Parents United for Public Schools, an advocacy group that has fought Republican budget-cutting in the state—a position that necessarily entails constantly opposing Bachmann.

"My current position did not come up as a topic," Cecconi told me. "We spoke of my impressions of Michele a decade ago."

Taibbi's other Stillwater source, Bill Prendergast, is credited by Rolling Stone as a former local newspaper writer. It goes unmentioned that he's currently a blogger at left-leaning Daily Kos.

On the same day Taibbi's story hit the web, The Blaze called it a "seemingly slanderous" piece that "attacks Bachmann's faith." Elsewhere it was called an "anti-Christian hit piece." By tomorrow, it wouldn't be surprising to see Bachmann's own campaign distributing photocopies of it in Iowa.

But Bremer's greatest complaint is Rolling Stone "smearing the town of Stillwater as some whites-only, wealthy gated community that propelled Bachmann to the national scene." And Avidor said that "the smear of Stillwater is what sticks out for me."

"I can't believe he ever came here," Bremer said. Actually, he didn't: Taibbi confirmed to me that he never set foot in Minnesota for the piece.

Abe Sauer can be reached at abesauer at gmail dot com.

62 Comments / Post A Comment

davidwatts (#72)

While Sarah Palin often undergoes this same treatment, she is not actually interested in being President. She is interested in being rich and famous.

Michelle Bachmann, on the other hand, is a lifelong political animal who knows how to get power, and desperately wants more of it. I am much more worried about her than Palin, and I wouldn't be surprised if we're still talking about her long after Sarah Palin's been relegated to hawking American flag bath towels on QVC.

Lockheed Ventura (#5,536)

@davidwatts I like to think of Bachmann as the Thinking Man's Palin. She is intelligent and well spoken enough that she does not embarrass herself every time she speaks off script. I admire her political focus and swagger. You throw in the 28 children(!), a law career AND a Congressional career and you have to have some respect for her. The media does a disservice to treat her as Palin-lite. She can be a real contender and will likely win Iowa, her home state.

Still she has the crazy eyes.

SeanP (#4,058)

@Lockheed Ventura I think the conventional wisdom is that she's a fine candidate for Iowa but is likely to flame out in New Hampshire (like so many cultural conservatives have done before). I think the crazy eyes (figuratively speaking) are going to be her undoing. Your thoughts?

Lockheed Ventura (#5,536)

@SeanP I think she does not have much hope with the Republican establishment, although I think Bachmann is the best representative of the Tea Party movement. Looks like we will be looking at a clash of the two Alpha Dogs, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, for the Republican nomination.

sigerson (#179)

@davidwatts – Bachmann was shunned by the House Republicans and holds no leadership position in their caucus. She has no power and should be described as "an obscure Representative from Minnesota" henceforth.

laurel (#4,035)

@Lockheed Ventura: "…you have to have some respect for her."

Bachman doesn't believe in evolution and wants intelligent design taught in public schools, destroying any credibility her law degree or foster childrening might have given her. That's not to say that she isn't a potential real candidate among people with no critical thinking skills, but please don't suggest that anyone with a regard for education and reason owes her any respect.

turd_sandwich (#5,660)

@spiralbetty I don't know. This may be all the more reason to respect her as a viable threat. I smell Machiavellian. Also, with SC being right around the bend from NH, that gives me cause for worry.

GadsdenGurl (#14,335)

@davidwatts What an idiotic response.

Palin is brilliant — it's just that the news outlets you listen to wouldn't tell you of her accomplishments during 2008. They were too busy being sexists and misogynists.

Bachmann is a smart cookie too as Matt admitted before he went on his own name-calling rant.

Does anyone take Rolling Stone, and publications like it, seriously anymore?

Pubes… all of them. LOL

GadsdenGurl (#14,335)

@Lockheed Ventura I"m still not sure why you call her a thinking man's Palin. Palin's accomplishments are why we have the gas pipeline and why every Alaskan benefited from the oil industry there. Palin did great things for Alaska and the recent release of her emails made no news because it was discovered that she (gasp!) ruled Alaska with transparency and wisdom!

Just because the commie-media didn't tell you what Palin's accomplishments were doesn't mean she didn't have any!

Mahatmalynne (#14,360)

@davidwatts Intelligent comment! The idea of Michele Bachmann being a real candidate for PUSA is frightening. What is happening?

Woesong (#14,383)

@davidwatts Funny. The article specifies one 'l' in her name, which the national press often misses.

In my old home town, not entirely dissimilar from Stillwater, there were of course various Pentecostal types. Their crede told them, crediting Paul in the NT, they would be villified in His name. They set about telling the Baptists and them they would go to hell. The Baptists and them replied that the snakewaving tongue-talking kooks were delirious nutsos. The Pentecostals were satisfied. "See," they told one another in their small congretation. "Lord told us!"

The strategy, however, never leaked out of their hermetically sealed church, and not a single sane convert was ever recorded.

Sic semper sickos.

Buffalo66 (#6,146)

@davidwatts "Michelle Bachmann, on the other hand, is a lifelong political animal who knows how to get power, and desperately wants more of it."

LOL. More hacky insights about political candidates, please. I love how one side is always lusty in its pursuits of power while the other side is fighting for truth and justice. Puhleeze.

SuperMargie (#1,263)

Speaking as a Minnesotan who has had to cringe her way through almost 10 years of Bachmann, I truly believe that getting caught up in articles about her nuttiness is only going to work in her favor.
She is deluded, she is a zealot, and she is very, very smart.
Her being within even the barest grasp of the presidency gives me nightmares. Omen III: Final Conflict nightmares.

Mahatmalynne (#14,360)

@SuperMargie Me, too!

IBentMyWookie (#133)

I'm wondering if those of you who are of the "she's crazy like a fox" and "smarter than you think" camps can kindly explain why she couldn't figure out the fucking right camera to look into.

turd_sandwich (#5,660)

@IBentMyWookie Not being able to find the right camera is the new black of folksy.

Morbo (#1,288)

Thank God someone is finally calling Matt Taibbi, the U.S. media's Pre-Eminent Trust Fund Punk, for lazy reporting.

Ima start a new blog called Bigfoot Watch.

roboloki (#1,724)

at least she's not a mormon.

Lockheed Ventura (#5,536)

@roboloki That is not fair. By the standards of the Republican field, both Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman are socially moderate.

riotnrrd (#840)

@Lockheed Ventura Which, while true, is a terrifying statement.

roboloki (#1,724)

@Lockheed Ventura i don't play fair in politics. neither do politicians. when they begin to have debates that include their policies on matters of public concern i will gladly change my tactics. hell, i'll suck my own dick and call it christmas. until then bachmann will continue to be an object of derision and i will make sure my conservative associates are constantly reminded that romney and our former ambassador to china believe that they can marry for eternity, be baptized for the dead and their leader is a living breathing prophet that regularly recieves tweets from god.

Danzig! (#5,318)

@roboloki Winning a battle nobody's fighting, losing the wars that matter

Lockheed Ventura (#5,536)

@roboloki I don't know about playing fair in politics, but I think at least conceptually it is something we should strive for.

What I don't think is fair is simply dismissing politicians because of their religious beliefs. I don't want to come off as intellectually lazy, but it is a bit of a slippery slope, is it not? I fail to see how Mormons' religious beliefs are any sillier than any other religion.

I have been to Utah a number of times, and I have nothing but respect for the general decency and competence that I encountered from Mormon people, as individuals. I think actual contact with Mormons will change your opinion of them. I think some of their religious beliefs are a little goofy, but I also think they are kind of cool in a Sci-Fi sort of way. I mean who wouldn't want their own planet in the afterlife. Sign me up!

I just want to point out that you have something in common with many Bachmann supporters. Her conservative evangelical base won't vote for Romney or Huntsman because the are not "true" Christians in their estimation. I find this disheartening, and frankly un-American.

roboloki (#1,724)

when i'm inundated by mud slinging attack ads for months before an election i don't believe we are anywhere near anything even resembling fairness in politics.
i wholeheartedly agree that the mormons invisible, omniscient, omnipotent heavenly father is no more ridiculous than any other religon's god.
i lived in slc in the mid eighties. if you are willing to include "village of the damned" in your sci-fi fantasy of mormon life then i completely agree.
i didn't say, nor did i mean to imply, that i won't vote for huntsman or romney because they are mormons. i won't vote for them because they promote policies with which i am diametrically opposed.
since i honorably served this great county for years i could give two shits that you believe i'm un-american.

Lockheed Ventura (#5,536)

@roboloki Yes, living in a "battle ground" state would drive anyone crazy.

I did not mean to imply you were un-American, only that judging candidates based on their religious affiliations is un-American, and I think we both agree on that.

roboloki (#1,724)

@Lockheed Ventura apolgies for being testy. the meat world is on my last nerve today.

It's all about the pageviews for Rolling Stone. All. About. The. Pageviews. #DeclineoftheWest

davetar (#1,114)

@RonMwangaguhunga It's always been about the pageviews, just the pages used to be printed on dead trees and they called it "circulation". Not saying the west isn't declining but this bird had flown long before anybody posting here was born – if it ever existed at all.

barnhouse (#1,326)

Huntsman will get it, I think. I've thought so the whole time. He is much richer than the rest of them, probably richer than the rest of them put together, and he is not stupid. Plus I hate to say it but he is very handsome indeed.

Lockheed Ventura (#5,536)

@barnhouse Huntsman is basically the New York Times dream vision of a Republican. He seems poised, professional and actually rational. Most strikingly, he does not seem angry. In other words, he doesn't have a chance.

whizz_dumb (#10,650)

While I personally disagree with tea party nuts and probably all republicans for their defense of the rich and trampling of the poor, I am increasingly turned off by democrats for their annoying ability to pick wrong battles and to fight the right ones weakly.

This is the venue for that rant, right? More to the point, Rolling Stone is garbage and that reporting really does blow.

GadsdenGurl (#14,335)

@whizzard Defense of what rich? WE abhor the fact that you lefties are funded by Soros, Rockfeller and the rest of those elites wanting to bring America down. I don't just say tax 'em I say toss 'em out of our political process too.

Which "Rockfeller"?

melis (#1,854)

@Choire Sicha This one?

MikeBarthel (#1,884)

This is great, Abe. I think if we're going to make Palin/Bachmann comparisons, though, it's worth pointing out that Bachmann has been working the "strike me down and I will only become more powerful" angle for a while. Instead of latching onto criticism of herself, though, she uses supposed anti-Christian bias as her hobbyhorse, using stories of Christian heroism and patriotism as the emotional climaxes of her speeches. (This ability to find common cause in something outside herself is why, unlike Palin, Bachmann is a successful politician.)

Abe Sauer (#148)

@MikeBarthel Well, I was speaking more generally of how tea party candidates in general react to "MSM" criticism by absorbing it and redirecting it into a positive for themselves. Bachmann is masterful at this. Palin has benefited from the tactic as well but has gotten sloppy lately with how often she uses it (see: "gotcha" question re: Paul Revere). Bachmann is far more careful about employing it.

Also, you're right about her constant use of Christian stories, especially the more obscure ones that prove (to her base anyway) that she knows her stuff. Take, for example, her use of the "armor bearer" tale to close out her RightOnline address. At 6:00 min mark Here:

I saw that live. The crowd had goosebumps. (No shit, I saw actual goosebumps on the back of the neck of the person sitting in front of me).

Phoenix Woman (#7,467)

Taibbi seems to be getting much more jaded and bored lately. In this case, he ignored all but the Mister Mistress Beater scandal and was much more interested in taking zings at the "overeducated" people who catch him being sloppy, which he has been of late. This is not the Taibbi who covered the Michael Jackson trial so adroitly in 2005. Unless, of course, he's saving his coverage of the scandals for when she gets the nomination — which is a very dangerous move. Bill Prendergast has already documented how Bachmann's rise to power came about because her extremism and insanity was swept under the rug by the local Traditional media:

Lockheed Ventura (#5,536)

@Phoenix Woman Agreed, I liked much his early work for the NY Press (in ancient times) and his initial piece on Goldman Sachs was pretty rockin'. Lately, he has been acting like a parody of himself.

Leon (#6,596)

I'm a giant fucking east-coast liberal and all, and I know this makes me sound like a Bolshevik, but some days I hate Matt Taibbi more than I hate Fox News, and I wish there was some way we pragmatic, even-tempered liberals, who are willing to put up with a little bit of bullshit in the shortrun in favor of the long game could just get him to shut the fuck up, or at the very least find a way to make people understand that he's essentially a well-paid teenager writing for a super-popular 'zine.

(do zines still exist or am i just 100% an old now?)

Aatom (#74)

An excellent and much deserved takedown of Taibbi. His preening hyperbole grates even more when I happen to agree with him.

GadsdenGurl (#14,335)

Let me see… she's not stupid, she's crazy.

Well that's the expected left wing misogyny we expected from this pubescent NUTJOB.

Ho hum.

For the record, she's smart, pretty, and a very accomplished and nice person… hell anyone who would take in 23 foster children has walked the walk, plus she has 5 kids of her own.

When are these left-wing bigots going to shut up and stop making fools of themselves by name calling? Well at least they might stop picking on Palin.

What women haters they are! Sickos.

So the "lamestream media" should not report on whack jobs like Palin and Bachmann because even though the "hit pieces" are based on verifiable facts, Palin, Bachmann and the rest use the critiques to improve their standing among the Republicans' half-witted tea-bagger base?

Palin may wear criticism from the reality- and sanity-based media as badges of honor, but she has a 58 percent unfavorable rating in the latest Bloomberg Poll.

Bachmann's favorable/unfavorable is 26/25, with 49 percent saying they didn't know enough about her to give an opinion. That "not sure" number will get smaller as the campaign wears on. Like Palin, Bachmann is an unpleasant, hateful ignoramus, so it is more likely than not that Bachmann's unfavorable rating will match or exceed Palin's as she becomes better known.

This will happen after normal Americans read articles about Bachmann by national reporters like Taibbi and the bloggers and reporters in Minnesota. Yes, she will still be popular with the right wing base, but, fortunately for the future of this great country, they only comprise about 20 percent of the electorate.

That's what's going on here, so I'm having a hard time grasping the point of Sauer's hit piece on Taibbi. He shouldn't report on Bachmann? He should only say nice things about her? He needs to give more credit to the folks on the ground? What?

jonerik (#14,348)

@Jon Ponder@facebook
Exactly! Bachmann appeals to John Birchers and other people teetering on paranoia who validate their paranoia. I see no downside to people saying out loud: isn't this candidate really insane? Obviously, people who are paranoid about anyone who doesn't agree with them, who are "liberals" and "socialists" whom they see as destroying "their" country, are going to see any attack on Bachmann as also an attack on them, further justifying their paranoid, delusional view of the world.

Abe Sauer (#148)

@Jon Ponder@facebook @jonerik Exactly! Because those are obviously the only two options, write reverse-engineered one-sided kneecappings that lean so heavily on anti-Christianity that they are insulting even to moderate Christians or, you know, do nothing. Obviously, those are the only two choices.

And my complaint isn't even that this is a Taibbi hit piece. It's that it's a SHITTY Taibbi hit piece.

What would the Taibbi who spent time in Orlando for "Bush Like Me" or San Antonio for "Great Derangement" have to say about this? The "Taibbi treatment" it seems is all that's there now, but that never used to be the case.

Matthew Phelan (#10,133)

@Abe Sauer Few things infuriate me more than reading an article by a paid writer for an expensive glossy magazine that required about the same level of search engine "research," and email "reporting/interviewing" as a well-done Daily Kos diary.

I like Taibbi, but this only makes it sting more.

Woesong (#14,383)

@Jon Ponder@facebook Point of information: there is a difference between the haridans of hate: Palin is insipid, and Bachman is insane. As far as working policy out of those two heads, the results are similar, so maybe it's a distinction without a difference.

Wait. So completely destroy her or don't bother. Those are YOUR only options? I'm sure he's written better stuff, but for readers who were previously unaware of Bachmann's real record, it was a pretty good primer.

What's been picked up from your piece around the Web is your assertion that Taibbi's hit job will only make Bachmann stronger, that he has inadvertently played right into her hands.

It's true that she'll wave the article and others like it as bloody shirts, which will resonate among her base, but there are not enough of them to get her the delegates she needs to be nominated. At best, she'll do as well as Pat Buchanan did in '92, meaning she'll get a primetime slot at the convention in Tampa (and then a job as right-wing commentator on TV).

Palin is the perfect model for Bachmann's future. There have been hundreds, maybe thousands, of articles about Palin's corruption, laziness, ignorance, poor judgment, mean-girl fits of pique and the rest since she became a national figure in August 2008. Over time, they have caused her base to rally 'round her, but they have simultaneously caused independents and cloth-coat GOP types to recoil.

There's nothing in Bachmann's record that presupposes a different outcome after regular folks get to know her. But it will come gradually, not in a single literary coup by Taibbi or anyone else.

Mahatmalynne (#14,360)

@Jon Ponder@facebook I may be uneducated in that the first article I read about Bachmann was the Taibbi piece. I didn't know anything about her except the impression that she was a "wack job." Now I know a little more about why I would not like to see her as a candidate for president of the United States. Your comments are very intelligent and interesting to read.

PeterO (#14,358)

Since this is an article about journalism, via Rolling Stone, I am going to take the opportunity to write that Jann Wenner, the co-founder of Rolling Stone, is…somebody whom I do not respect, albeit he is very successful.

In my opinion, renowned fascist leaders through out history, if they could, would approve of his method of ruling. But it is his magazine, and he does run the Hall of Fame, so tough luck if Jethro Tull, Cheap Trick, The Monkees and countless others, are not in it.

Woesong (#14,383)

@PeterO Let me say this about that. I was a visitor in the Rolling Stone office in the fall of 1972. They had a hot young photographer, just out of school, name of Annie Leibovitz. And another name of Fong. It was a very casual affair on 3rd just up from Townsend, the old train station. They were really quite the counterculture then; their Straight Arrow imprint published the first-ever Kerouac biog that year, and I was there with the former wife of Neal Cassady, who had been featured recently in one of their splashy profiles.

Times were different then, as I say often.

adidas (#14,359)

Have you ever read the book Matt Taibbi wrote with Mark Ames, "The eXile", the one he threw coffee into a Vanity Fair reporter's face over? It's maybe the most misogynistic piece of crap I've read. Mark Ames contributed this paragraph:

“We’d ask our Russian staff to flash their asses or breasts for us. We’d tell them that if they wanted to keep their jobs, they’d have to perform unprotected anal sex with us. Nearly every day, we asked our female staff if they approved of anal sex. That was a fixation of ours. ‘Can I fuck you in the ass? Huh? I mean, without a rubber? Is that okay?’ It was all part of the fun.”

Taibbi contributed a humorous anecdote about how the editors of the eXile were constantly sexually assaulting the women in the office:

"[Paul] started off by trying to charm [Yulia], and she led him on with her inviting laugh, one hand on her chin, big green eyes looking up…. Within a month, he was literally chasing Yulia down the hallway to try to get her to kiss him…. Kara and Marcus had to watch this every day: eXile guys chasing women in the office up the walls, into stalls…. Paul fucked the first sales girl he hired, Lyuba, a silicon-lipped 19-year-old blonde. She quit a few weeks later. He fucked [everyone] but his ex, Kara. With her you just asked for money."

At the eXile, Taibbi was pretty much the liberal James O'Keefe, participating in "pranks" like throwing a horse semen pie into some dude's face and publishing fake stories about sleeping with the wife of one of the eXile's enemies, a California professor who'd had the temerity to object to a story in the eXile where a correspondent described raping a woman in a bar.

And then he brought the stupid pranks over here, following John Kerry around in a gorilla suit in 2004 for some obscure reason. And he still doesn't miss any opportunity to describe women as shrieking, irrational harpies or demean them by describing them in various sex positions, or to compare men to women as an insult (because, you know, women suck):

"However, this move of [Michelle Malkin's] to spearhead the teabag movement really adds an element to her writing that wasn’t there before. Now when I read her stuff, I imagine her narrating her text, book-on-tape style, with a big, hairy set of balls in her mouth."

"Actually, yeah, I’m actually kind of rooting for [Bachmann] to win the nomination, because I can’t wait to see the porn movies that they make. The Bachmann-inspired porn films are going to be great…I mean, who didn’t see ‘Nailin’ Palin’? That was classic cinema."

Honestly, given Taibbi's history, I don't see why liberals should give this guy any kind of credibility, even if he occasionally cuts and pastes the reporting of superior journalists into his stories and gonzos up dry and wonky topics using un-PC or otherwise outlandish metaphors. I think it's time for everyone to get over that he said "vampire squid" once.

Woesong (#14,383)

One unearned fish supplied by Talibi in RS: he claimed that the famed farm welfare subsidy was paid not to her but to a father-in-law. Locals on the scene describe it as a family trust.

Good thing you are all focused like a laser on Bachman & Palin. Gaia forbid anyone check into that ex-cocksuckin, ex-dopesmoking, ex-drugdealing warmonger of a president we have now.

I'm letting this comment stand here, but adding this to note that it contains false accusations and strange smears. (He's both a drug dealer *and* apparently a homosexual! Both of which apparently make him inappropriate to serve.) It's reminiscent of the Clinton era, really, this comment. In any event, there is no evidence that the current President has either performed oral sex on men or dealt drugs. That being said, 50/50 is not bad for accuracy.

Abe Sauer (#148)

@Choire Sicha "Gaia" is a deity from an alternate reality where a Wikileaks dump proved Obama actually may have done these things. So, in all fairness, comments via wormholes should be left to stand.

franksan (#14,427)

I had the opportunity to see Ms. Bachman on a CNN interview this evening. I watched for between 3 and 5 seconds, as she was in the middle of rhetorically skewering the President. Whatever Mr. Taibbi has chosen to crib without attribution, that first personal glimpse was sufficient to convince me that Ms. Bachman will do fine as her own voter repellent.

"Long before Bachmann landed in the national consciousness, let alone on a presidential ballot, "

It remains long before Bachman lands on any presidential ballot. It is, however, good to learn that the citizens of Stillwater haven't supported Bachman. It's a shame I haven't learned this prior in the obviously lacking Star Tribune. What is unavoidable, however, is the fact that the red, tea-bag zone surrounding Minneapolis-St. Paul is guilty as charged. It embraces and reflects all that is disgustingly wrong with America.

"But Bremer's greatest complaint is Rolling Stone "smearing the town of Stillwater as some whites-only,…"

Taibbi mayn't have been there, but I have. And it is.

eliza0 (#14,345)

I had the opportunity to see Ms. Bachman on a CNN interview this evening. Its a great news.

Don Alex@facebook (#14,449)

The right wing is SO desperate to find their own "Hillary", theyll accept just about anyone with a vagina and a big mouth. We're doomed in 2012, whether the Mayans were correct or not. Shame on you people, because you made us deserve the Apocalypse, just so God can wash your ilk off the planet. Too bad the rest of us have to go with you.

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