March 21, 2013

(Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

On Sept. 12, 2011, Rep. Michele Bachmann made a mistake. In a Republican presidential primary debate sponsored by CNN/Tea Party Express, Bachmann criticized Texas Gov. Rick Perry for requiring that all girls moving into sixth grade receive a vaccine for the human papilloma virus (HPV). She all but stated that the thing could harm the recipients: “Little girls who have a negative reaction to this potentially dangerous drug don’t get a ‘mulligan,’” she said.

More mistakes were to come. Bachmann told Fox News about a woman who’d reported that her daughter had “suffered mental retardation as a result of that vaccine.” She gave pretty much the same spiel to NBC’s “Today Show.”

She should have run from both media appearances.

A year and a half later, Bachmann appears to have learned her lesson. CNN’s Dana Bash recently tried to track down the congresswoman to ask her about remarks she’d made at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) alleging that the current occupants of the White House live too lavishly: “A new book is out talking about the perks and the excess of the $1.4-billion-a-year presidency that we’re paying for. And this is a lifestyle that is one of excess. Now we find out that there are five chefs on Air Force One. There are two projectionists who operate the White House movie theater. They regularly sleep at the White House in order to be readily available in case the first family wants a really, really late show. And I don’t mean to be petty here, but can’t they just push the play button? We are also the ones who are paying for someone to walk the president’s dog, paying for someone to walk the president’s dog? Now, why are we doing that when we can’t even get a disabled veteran into the White House for a White House tour? That isn’t caring!””

Bachmann ran, literally (see 6:00 of the video below):

Wonderful move, smart mediology. Because as foolish as Bachmann appears as she attempts to outrun CNN’s Bash, we know from precedent that stopping for an extended chat would likely yield greater embarrassment. Her contentions about White House budgetary excess, after all, earned a smack-down from The Post’s fact-checker.

Bill O’Reilly of Fox News also attempted to interview the congresswoman. Said the host on last night’s “O’Reilly Factor”: “We wanted to ask Congresswoman Bachmann about the fracas but she doesn’t want to talk about it even though this program has been very fair to her — always.”

Running again — brilliant.

A Bachmann press aide has not yet responded to a request for comment. More good work there.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.