ABC and NBC Hype 'Stunning' Retirement of 'Lightning Rod' Michele Bachmann
ABC and NBC on Wednesday night continued to hype the "stunning" retirement of "lightning rod" Michele Bachmann. World News reporter Jeff Zeleny noted that although the politician "rode the Tea Party wave," her "words often created trouble." The journalist made sure to use the words "Tea Party" and "Republican" six times in the two and a half minute segment. In contrast, when controversial, scandal-prone Democrat Jesse Jackson Jr. resigned from Congress, the networks failed to use a partisan label 73 percent of the time.
Zeleny also highlighted, "But Bachmann downplayed the fact that she's at the center of three investigations, including an FBI probe over allegations of aides misusing campaign money."
On Wednesday, the journalist played up perceived gaffes by Bachmann, singling out this quote: "I don't know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We've had an earthquake. We've had a hurricane."
NBC Nightly News reporter Andrea Mitchell also labeled Bachmann a Republican. Anchor Brian Williams called the Congresswoman a "lightning rod" twice. Mitchell insisted that the "breakout star" "stumbled" from time to time.
On Wednesday morning, NBC's Today hyperbolically claimed the retirement wa a "bombshell" amid a "swirl of controversy."
A transcript of the May 30 World News segment is below:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Now to that surprise move from a political celebrity. Michele Bachmann, the Tea Party star who made a spirited run for president, surprised supporters overnight by announcing she will retire from Congress after four terms. So is she backing away from a tough race, or looking ahead to a bigger one? ABC's Jeff Zeleny has more on why now and what's next.
JEFF ZELENY: In a message to her supporters today, the Republican star said she's calling it quits.
MICHELE BACHMANN: I am confident that this is the right decision.
ZELENY: A stunning announcement. Only two weeks ago she started running ads promoting her re-election bid. But Bachmann downplayed the fact that she's at the center of three investigations, including an FBI probe over allegations of aides misusing campaign money.
BACHMANN: This decision was not impacted in any way by the recent inquiries into the activities of my former presidential campaign.
ZELENY: It was two years ago when she burst onto the national scene, shaking up the Republican presidential race.
BACHMANN: Now I seek the presidency not for vanity, but because America is at a crucial moment.
ZELENY: She rode the Tea Party wave. But along the way, her words often created trouble.
BACHMANN: I don't know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We've had an earthquake. We've had a hurricane. We are also the ones who are paying for someone to walk the President's dog.
ZELENY: She danced. She ran. And became the first woman to win the Iowa straw poll. Her mantra? Repealing the health care law. But when I sat down with her this month, she was coy about her future. Will you run again?
BACHMANN: Well, you never know.
ZELENY: So, as you said, Jeff, pretty coy there. But in that video, Michel Bachmann said her future is limitless. She has that big campaign war chest. I know you've been working your sources on Capitol Hill. What do they think she's going to do?
ZELENY: Well, George, right now she is being coy and keeping her options open. She simply doesn't know what she's going to do. First of all, they say she's going to continue to carry out her congressional duties. She's in Russia this week with members of a delegation. And after that, several friends and Minnesota Republicans I talked to said her biggest fear was being left behind by this Tea Party movement filled with new faces. So, one friend told me her best case scenario is a Sarah Palin model, trying to influence the political arena from outside. We'll see if it works.