NBC Hypes Bachmann's 'Bombshell' Retirement Amid 'Swirl of Controversy'; ABC Frets: 'Takes Away Big Target for Democrats'

At the top of Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer seized on Congresswoman Michele Bachmann's decision not to seek re-election in 2014: "Breaking news. A bombshell announcement from Michele Bachmann. The Tea Party favorite says she won't seek another term in Congress....But with a swirl of controversy surrounding her, will that future include politics?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

On ABC's Good Morning America, co-host George Stephanopoulos responded to the news by fretting that Bachmann not being in Congress "takes away a big target for Democrats." Correspondent Jon Karl agreed: "Oh, that's right, George. For some Democrats, Michele Bachmann was, really, target number one. She was the most high-profile and controversial leader of the Tea Party in the Congress."

Today decided to make the announcement its lead story, with White House correspondent Peter Alexander declaring it to be a "major surprise" that the "Tea Party firebrand" would not run again.

In between clips of Bachmann's YouTube video statement of her decision, Alexander noted:

Bachmann said her decision was not influenced by concerns that she wouldn't win re-election after a close race last November, and had nothing to do with complaints from former campaign aides about campaign finances....The Federal Election Commission and the Office of Congressional Ethics are looking into whether Bachmann's campaign concealed payments to an Iowa state senator who did work for her 2012 presidential campaign.

Alexander related: "An early supporter of the Tea Party movement and frequent Obama critic, Bachmann touted her work on a variety of conservative issues, saying that she will complete her term in office defending her beliefs."

Compared to NBC and ABC, CBS This Morning simply offered two straightforward news briefs on Bachmann deciding to retire.


Here is a full transcript of the May 29 Today report:

7:00AM ET TEASE:

MATT LAUER: Breaking news. A bombshell announcement from Michele Bachmann. The Tea Party favorite says she won't seek another term in Congress.

MICHELE BACHMANN: My future is full. It is limitless.

LAUER: But with a swirl of controversy surrounding her, will that future include politics?

7:01AM ET SEGMENT:

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Let's get right to that big political news over the night. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann says she will not run for re-election, it's an announcement that came as a surprise to a lot of people. NBC News White House correspondent Peter Alexander joins us with more on this. Peter, good morning.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Bachmann to Leave Congress; GOP Congresswoman Won't Seek Re-Election]

PETER ALEXANDER: Savannah, you're exactly right. This does come as a major surprise this morning. Bachmann, of course the Tea Party firebrand, that former presidential candidate, announcing on her website this morning that she will not seek re-election in 2014.

MICHELE BACHMANN: After a great deal of thought and deliberation I have decided next year I will not seek a fifth congressional term.

ALEXANDER: In this eight-minute video, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann explains her decision not to run.

BACHMANN: The law limits anyone from serving as President of the United States for more than eight years, and in my opinion, well, eight years is also long enough for an individual to serve as a representative for a specific congressional district.

ALEXANDER: Bachmann said her decision was not influenced by concerns that she wouldn't win re-election after a close race last November, and had nothing to do with complaints from former campaign aides about campaign finances.

BACHMANN: This decision was not impacted in any way by the recent inquiries into the activities of my former presidential campaign or my former presidential staff.

ALEXANDER: The Federal Election Commission and the Office of Congressional Ethics are looking into whether Bachmann's campaign concealed payments to an Iowa state senator who did work for her 2012 presidential campaign.

BACHMANN: It was clearly understood that compliance with all rules and regulations was an absolute necessity for my presidential campaign, and I have no reason to believe that that was not the case.

ALEXANDER: An early supporter of the Tea Party movement and frequent Obama critic, Bachmann touted her work on a variety of conservative issues, saying that she will complete her term in office defending her beliefs.

BACHMANN: I will continue to do everything that I can to advance our conservative constitutional principles that have served as the bedrock for who we are as a nation.

ALEXANDER: And as for her plans after Congress, Bachmann does not say whether she will make another run for president. She says she won't rule out anything, in or out of politics.

By the way, Savannah, if you're looking for Michele Bachmann today, she's going to be a tough woman to find. She is in Russia this week as part of a congressional delegation working to investigate the Boston bombing, among other things.

GUTHRIE: Alright. Peter Alexander in Washington, thank you.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC