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Posted at 04:10 PM ET, 07/19/2011

Michele Bachmann’s handlers get rough with reporter

This morning, the Daily Caller published a story I was inclined to leave to others: Michele Bachmann suffers from severe migraines.

But now the Bachmann camp has suddenly invited a whole lot more scrutiny to the story. At an event today, ABC News reporter Brian Ross tried to ask her about her condition, and according to another reporter on the scene, Time’s Michael Crowley, Bachmann’s handlers got pretty rough and aggressive with Ross:

Ross dashed after Bachmann, repeatedly asking whether she had ever missed a House vote due to a migraine. She ignored him. Ross pursued her into a parking area behind the stage. Her aides grew alarmed. When Ross made a beeline for the white SUV waiting to carry Bachmann away, two Bachmann men pounced on him, grabbing and pushing him multiple times with what looked to me like unusual force. In fact, I have never seen a reporter treated so roughly at a campaign event, especially not a presidential one. Ross was finally able to break away and lob his question at Bachmann one more time, but she ignored him again.
Afterward, I asked Ross — a hard-nosed pro who nevertheless seemed slightly shaken — whether he’d ever been treated so roughly. “A few times,” he told me. “Mostly by mafia people.”

Jeffrey Schneider, a senior vice president for ABC news, reiterated the charge in an interview with me just now.

“He was certainly shoved around and pushed,” Schneider says. “It’s unfortunate when physicality is involved. He was just doing his job.”

Schneider confirmed that there’s even video of the episode. “We were videotaping Brian asking questions,” he said. “I’m sure it will find its way onto our web site at some point.”

Asked if Bachmann’s aides would have had any credible reason to think she was in danger, Schneider said it was clear that they already knew his identity. “They absolutely knew that it was Brian Ross — of that there is no doubt,” Schneider said. “Every effort was made not to be engaged by Brian.”

The migraines themselves aren’t too interesting, but as David Weigel notes, Bachmann’s statement on them today failed to explain her health condition adequately, and after all, she is running for president of the United States.

Beyond this, her team’s handling of the issue raises a host of questions. Bachmann may say nutty things, but she is not a fringe figure. She’s widely considered the frontrunner in the Iowa caucuses, and some commentators even think she’s got a shot at becoming the GOP presidential nominee. Is it really possible that Bachmann and/or her team didn’t think to prepare her for questions about this? Running for president is hard. You wake up in the morning confronted by a story that — even if you think it’s terribly unfair — you can bet will come up at your next press availability. If you spy Brian Ross approaching your candidate with an inquisitive look on his face, the correct response is not to grab him and heave him around like a sack of old potatoes.

Really, if this turns out to be as bad as it sounds, it should raise questions about the Bachmann team’s fitness for a presidential campaign. Shouldn’t this invite more media scrutiny? Shouldn’t her team be pressed to justify this behavior?

Whatever headache was created for Bachmann by the migraine story may have just gotten a whole lot worse.

UPDATE: Post edited slightly from original.

By  |  04:10 PM ET, 07/19/2011

 
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