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Erik Wemple
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Posted at 04:10 PM ET, 12/29/2011

Sorenson defection provokes Fox’s Kelly

Megyn Kelly shows an admirable measure of restraint in the interview below, with now-famous Michele Bachmann ship-jumper Kent Sorenson. For those who weren’t riveted to the tweeting that erupted last night: Sorenson, an Iowa state senator, had signed on as Bachmann’s Iowa co-chair this year but jumped to the Ron Paul campaign last night. The guy just materialized at a Paul event and proclaimed his new loyalties.

The depravity of Sorenson’s move permeates at least a couple of layers. First there’s the betrayal itself, an abandonment made all the more reprehensible given its motivation — that he’d chosen the wrong candidate to begin with. Second, the execution: Sorenson’s switcheroo was so abrupt that it had the feel of someone who just had a second thought about his choice of entree at a middling restaurant. Third, the attention: Whatever his scheming, Sorenson’s defection appeared designed to draw the greatest amount of media to himself.

In her interview with Sorenson, Kelly betrays the proper amount of outrage over Sorenson’s realpolitik. The only moment of levity comes at the start and the end, when Kelly compliments Sorenson on his ability to “cause a controversy.”

In between, she whacks him to wonderful effect. When he drones on too long about his own political background, Kelly slaps him: “I don’t want to get too deep in the weeds here on Iowa politics because frankly our viewers don’t care that much about your reelection battle, with all due respect.”

As the interview wears on, Kelly goes all legal eagle on Sorenson over the question of whether he was offered money to join the Paul campaign. Bachmann herself is alleging that Sorenson told her that he was offered money — “lots of money” — to make the move. Sorenson has denied Bachmann’s money claims.

Enter Kelly, with this question to Sorenson: “I just want to be clear . . . you are alleging that Michele Bachmann is lying.”

Sorenson: “I never had those conversations with Michele Bachmann.”

Then a good twist arises when Sorenson says that the truth will emerge when the financial reports come out. Kelly picks up on a helpful distinction, one between an offer and a disbursement: “Right, but was it offered to you, was any money offered to you by anybody from the Ron Paul camp to jump ship?”

Sorenson: “Absolutely not.” A Bachmann aide has come forth in support of Sorenson’s version of events.

This sounds like the kind of spat that’ll get resolved in a tell-all book a long time from now.

But one aspect of the segments beats all the back-and-forth between Kelly and Sorenson. That would be the Bachmann 4x4 driving back and forth in the background of the interview. Now that’s earned media.

By  |  04:10 PM ET, 12/29/2011

 
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