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Keller @ Large: Bachmann Falsely “Slimed” By Media Over Natural Disaster Joke

By Jon Keller, WBZ
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(Photo by Richard Ellis/Getty Images)

(Photo by Richard Ellis/Getty Images)

WBZ-TV's Jon Keller Jon Keller
Jon Keller is WBZ-TV News' Political Analyst, and his "Keller A...
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BOSTON (CBS) – It’s easy to stand up and defend people you really admire when they come under attack. But while it’s not quite so appealing to go to bat for someone you’d just as soon never hear from again, today is one of those days when I feel compelled to do exactly that.

Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann is not someone I want to see become the leader of the free world. Her views on several important issues are the opposite of mine. She lacks experience and leadership skills, and seems to spend an inordinate amount of time engaging in political demagoguery during interviews in which she displays only a very casual relationship with true facts.

But that said, Michelle Bachmann doesn’t deserve to be falsely slimed by the media.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

That’s what happened Monday when the press pounced on a couple of sound bites from Bachmann on the campaign trail in Florida, where she incorporated a joke about the hurricane and the recent earthquake into her stump speech:

“I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians,” I saw Bachmann say in two seperate video clips. “We’ve had an earthquake; and a hurricane.”

She goes on to suggest that God wants Washington to listen to public anger over federal spending, and that the natural disasters were a wakeup call.

How do I know this was a joke, not an especially classy one, but a joke nonetheless?

Because you can see Bachmann smiling, and members of the audience laughing. And because while Bachmann has said many things that struck me as odd in the past, I have never seen any evidence that she genuinely believes God creates natural disasters to influence current political debate.

But that’s the way the story was played, complete with skeptical references to Bachmann’s religious beliefs and how they impact her family life. And all I can say to anyone who distorts this story that way is: there are plenty of other ways to express your disdain for someone than to make up a fake story about them. And if you can’t figure them out, maybe Michelle Bachmann isn’t the only one who should be a bit more careful with her rhetoric.

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