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Michele Bachmann and her campaign manager are accusing CBS News of “media bias” after a CBS News producer erroneously sent an e-mail to her spokeswoman suggesting that the Republican presidential candidate would get fewer questions than her opponents during Saturday night’s debate.
Before the debate, a CBS employee sent a message to CBS News producer John Dickerson and Bachmann spokeswoman Alice Stewart related to Bachmann’s participation in a post-debate webcast, according to CNN. Dickerson was told in the message that Stewart had been copied.
But Dickerson either overlooked that point or forgot to remove Stewart from his reply. He followed up with this message to the employee: “OK, let’s keep it loose, though, since she’s not going to get many questions and she’s nearly off the charts in the hopes that we can get someone else.”
During the debate, sponsored by CBS and National Journal, the Minnesota congresswoman in fact wasn’t asked as many questions as the front-runners.
“I think it’s only respectful to allow the candidates to be able to speak and not intentionally ahead of time make a decision to limit candidates’ opportunity to speak to the American people,” she said after it was over. “Clearly, this was an example of media bias.”?
Bachmann’s campaign manager, Keith Nahigian, was a little more blunt in his reaction. According to CNN, he “stormed through the spin room” at the South Carolina debate, saying: “John Dickerson should be fired. He is a piece of shit. He is a fraud and he should be fired.”
For its part, CBS News said the e-mail was “a candid exchange about the reality of the circumstances — Bachmann remains at 4% in the polls.”
Dickerson echoed that sentiment to CNN: “Bachmann is at 4 percent in the polls and has been for a while. Other candidates aren’t. I sent an email based on that.”
Meanwhile, debate moderator and CBS Evening News host Scott Pelley said he wasn’t aware of the e-mail about the chain, but he and his co-host, National Journal’s Major Garrett, tried to be fair in the time they gave to each candidate.