NYT Correspondent Knocks Bachmann as 'A Little Bit Combustible and Volatile'

Reporting on the campaigns in Iowa on Friday's Early Show, Times political correspondent Jeff Zeleny belittled candidate Michele Bachmann as "a little bit combustible and volatile."

Zeleny added that "Anyone knows what she could do," in response to CBS anchor Jeff Glor's question about the potential for a candidate to do something before the Iowa Caucus to change the GOP race.

Zeleny's reporting contributes to the ongoing media smear of "Crazy Eyes" Bachmann. One might even think he was referring to the infamous Glenn Cose from the 1987 thriller Fatal Attraction. And the smear also echoes liberal bias that much of the GOP field is "self-immolating" on the trail and campaigns are "careening off the highway." Such were the words of ABC's Jake Tapper on Thursday.

The media also seemed to be waiting to call the end of the Gingrich campaign. CBS's Glor teed up Zeleny by asking how long Gingrich could even stay in the race given that "the bottom seemed to drop out of the Gingrich campaign in the last week or so, and now we know he doesn't have much money left."

CBS also noticed candidate Rick Santorum's rise in the Iowa polls. "So going into this final position, he is heartened by one thing – he's finally being attacked," Zeleny said of Santorum ironically reveling in the attention of negative ads from fellow candidate Rick Perry.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on December 30 at 7:06 a.m. EST, is as follows:

JEFF GLOR: Jeff, I wanted to ask you about Rick Santorum. Because we talked about the surge that he seemed to enjoy a couple of days ago. That continues?

JEFF ZELENY, national political correspondent, New York Times: You know, I think Rick Santorum is definitely – the fruits of his labors are paying off. You talk to voters who say that they appreciate the time that he's taken, they appreciate the fact that he answers questions for hours on end. So I think he is rising somewhat. But there's a limit to his rise. His organization still is not nearly as strong as some of the other candidates in the race. Even Governor Rick Perry has spent millions here. Rick Santorum cannot compete with that, but he definitely has the hearts and minds of some of these Evangelical voters. So going into this final position, he is heartened by one thing – he's finally being attacked. Governor Rick Perry has these radio ads attacking him, and that's something he's been waiting for for a long time. It shows he's a credible candidate in this race.

GLOR: Jeff, the bottom seemed to drop out of the Gingrich campaign in the last week or so, and now we know he doesn't have much money left. How long does he stay in the race for?

ZELENY: You know, that's a really good question. I think that one thing, as this race continues beyond Iowa, and it's going to -- it'll go to New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida -- the thing that has kept Newt Gingrich in this race all along are debates. There are going to be more debates as this campaign continues, and there's probably not much of a reason for him to get out of the race if he doesn't do very well here. So I'm not sure that Iowa's going to be the same as in years past, and in terms of winnowing the field, because people could stay in and keep debating. But Newt Gingrich has – he's getting some more attention, I think, in the final days. His crowds were fairly good in northwest Iowa yesterday, so I think his people are not counting him out just yet. He could have a – I guess a third life in his campaign. We'll have to see how he does.

GLOR: And Jeff, you mentioned Michele Bachmann or someone else potentially doing something in the last couple of days that might change the race again. What do you think that might be?

ZELENY: Well that's a good question. I mean, I was not expecting her top advisor here to go to the Ron Paul campaign. We have accusations of pay-for-play going on. So she's a little bit combustible and volatile. Anyone knows what she could do. But if some of her supporters all go to one person – if it's Rick Santorum or if it's Newt Gingrich – that has the potential to change the race here. But if she stays as strong as she can in the final days and holds on to what few supporters she has remaining, that's going to help Mitt Romney because it's going to keep all this support as diffuse as possible.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014