Concord Confusion
03-15-2011
It has been fascinating to watch the coverage of Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann’s recent trip to New Hampshire. As you probably already know, the focus has been almost exclusively on her confusion over precisely where the first shots of the American Revolution were fired – Concord, New Hampshire or Concord, Massachusetts. For those who like to disparage the Tea Party crowd as unserious and ill-informed, this episode feeds into the pre-existing narrative that these folks never let historical accuracy get in the way of a good, ideologically useful anecdote. Bachmann herself has come under prior criticism for her mischaracterization of the attitude of our Founding Fathers toward slavery.
 
Those of you who are regular readers of this website know that I have been plenty skeptical of the Tea Party movement in the past, while also trying to be fair about noting the potential for the movement to have a real impact in the electoral arena. In this particular instance, I must say that I was disappointed with the way in which Bachmann’s visit was covered by the media. I can’t actually tell you what she talked about on her visit, because much of the coverage focused almost exclusively on the Concord gaffe (including a mention on several network news broadcasts). While I don’t agree with Bachmann’s claim that the coverage of her reveals a double standard in the media (i.e., President Obama gets a pass on these types of gaffes), and the mistake was fair game, an obsessive focus on candidate gaffes trivializes the important political discourse that will take place in the Granite State this year, Bachmann’s voice included.
 
Back posting on Friday.

Comments:


Posted On: 03-21-2011 12:07:49 by Jim Splaine
Good points, Dean. I've watched rather up close every NH Presidential Primary since 1960 - really. From 1968 on I was very much involved in each primary. I find that, as we might expect, the reporters from the national media have their own bias, and they nowadays especially want to jump over other reporters in coming up with the news-of-the-day in whatever they cover. If it's a "fun" story, they get more attention from readers and editors. And the stories about "endorsements" and "who's-on-first" polls is excessive, and neither actually count too much when it comes to results. Too bad the substance of campaigns isn't covered so well. In 2008, I noticed that reporters fell all over Barack Obama and the "newness" of his storyline, and dismissed Hillary Clinton (I was supporting her) in favor of the "change" candidate. And the rest of the lot were essentially dismissed. Hard to talk substance when all you read is about personality.


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