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Posted at 12:02 PM ET, 07/20/2011

Bachmann campaign defends manhandling reporter, but the story doesn’t add up

The Michele Bachmann campaign is now defending its conduct during yesterday’s widely-reported episode involving Brian Ross, in which Bachmann aides aggressively pushed and shoved the veteran ABC News reporter to prevent him from asking her about her migraines.

In an unapologetic statement given to The Post, a Bachmann campaign spokesperson said that Ross was overly aggressive and that he “jumped on stage and rushed towards us,” suggesting that this justified the aggressive response from Bachmann aides.

But Time reporter Michael Crowley, who was on the scene, tells me the Bachmann camp’s self-defense doesn’t add up. Crowley emailed me this:

I believe he was briefly on the stage -- but at that point the event was long over. Lots of people had been crowding the stage previously, trying to get autographs and the like, and no one cared then. So I don’t know why that would be significant.
As for “rushing,” I dont know what that means, either. He was moving fast because she was. It seemed like familiar dogged questioning of a fleeing politician, perhaps warranting a bark from from a press aide — but nothing like the physicality I saw, which seemed like the way you would treat a person who posed a real security threat, which Ross obviously did not.

What’s more, Ross himself has now spoken about the episode, and his version of events is also at odds with the Bachmann campaign’s claim. Ross, speaking on The View just now, said that after Bachmann read a statement about her migraines, he tried to ask her whether she had missed Congressional votes as a result.

“She read a statement, and then walked away,” Ross said. “And I attempted to ask her that question, `have you missed any Congressional votes because of these migraines.’ And the staff came up and pushed me away.” (Ross also said it was an overstatement to claim he was “roughed up.”)

In Ross’s telling, then, Bachmann’s staff approached him and shoved him away, which dovetails with Crowley’s version of events.

Finally, some additional tracking footage of the episode has emerged, courtesy of the left-leaning group American Bridge. At around the 1:58 mark, you can see Ross asking Bachmann about the migraines from a distance away. The footage is inconclusive, because it appears to only show Ross at the tail end of the episode, but his tone and posture certainly don’t seem to be that of someone who had “rushed” her, which again dovetails with Crowley’s and Ross’s version of events:

The Bachmann campaign should be pressed further on what happened here. From what we know of the story right now, this is highly questionable conduct for any campaign, let alone for a major presidential campaign.

By  |  12:02 PM ET, 07/20/2011

 
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