The State of the Union: Michelle Bachmann doesn't look us in the eye, Rachel Maddow criticizes CNN for showing this: VIDEO

Well, one way to rabble-rouse a State of the Union speech whose tone and setting emphasized civility was to let the Tea Party in: Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R. Minn.) seemed to be looking off-camera at a tall statue of George Washington, or maybe of Darth Vader, as she delivered her third-party response to President Obama’s speech, with a shifting background at which Bachmann gestured. It was complete with charts and the famous 1945 photograph of the raising of the American flag at the Battle of Iwo Jima:

Bachmann’s speech aired on CNN, a decision that was criticized by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, who said, “tonight, inexplicably, a national news network decided that they would give Michele Bachmann a job that her own party never did” — a reference to the fact that the official Repubican response had just been delivered by Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan.

I think Maddow is wrong here. The Tea Party has become such a part of the national conversation that, placed in the proper context CNN did in setting up its airing of the speech, what Bachmann had to say was indeed newsworthy. I’m sure I’m not alone in finding last night that I was clicking around after the President’s speech and the Republican response, looking for Bachmann’s remarks, and was disappointed when I didn’t find them on numerous news outlets. (As for the camera-placement, Bachmann was apparently looking at the Tea Party camera, and not the network-news-pool camera. On this morning’s The View, Joy Behar could not resist saying that Bachmann is “such a right-winger, she can’t look to her left.” Oh, Joy… )

And it also was, I’m not shying away from saying, entertaining. Bachmann’s shameless use of the Iwo Jima photograph, her effusive call, “We will proclaim liberty throughout the land!” just days after she erroneously claimed that the Founding Fathers “worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States” – it was enlightening to get the full picture of what a prominent Tea Party representative believes.

I know the counter-argument: If you start airing third- and (who knows?) fourth-party responses to the speech, it undermines attention to the dynamic — Democrats and Republicans — that will have the most impact on the plans of action that Presidents announce in the State of the Union address. The more we know about the Tea Party and what it’s proposing, the better informed we are in how seriously to take its members — and after the mid-term elections, with its Tea Party-influenced results, who would want to know less about the Tea Party?


Comments (173 total) Add your comment
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  • Jenn

    Wow! You call yourself a reporter? This stinks!

    • kyle

      He’s a TV commentator. He gives his opinion about what he sees on television. Just like O’Reily, Beck, Maddow, etc etc do on their shows. If you want news, look for articles that clearly have the “News Brief” logo above them.

    • Strepsi

      @ KEN TUCKER – you are absolutely wrong. The Tea Party is NOT a party — Michelle bachman is Republican — but is being given the privileges of one. This is crazy, what should be a fringe arm of the Republican party is being treated as a de facto Party by being given air time (that no other political movement gets) without any of the responsibilities or costs. Ken, forget the national conversation — this is an end run around democracy and electoral law!

      • Ruthie

        The Repubs would still be in minority if not for Tea Party!

    • TheTRUTHx1000

      “The Tea Party has become such a part of the national conversation that, placed in the proper context CNN did in setting up its airing of the speech, what Bachmann had to say was indeed newsworthy.”

      Whoa DUDE you really need to your facts straight!

      “I’m sure I’m not alone in finding last night that I was clicking around after the President’s speech and the Republican response, looking for Bachmann’s remarks, and was disappointed when I didn’t find them on numerous news outlets.”

      Noooo I think you were probably the only one!!
      Make no mistake about it, most sane Americans believe the “TEA PARTY” are nut jobs and after this article they feel the same way about you!!!!

      • Rahma

        I rllaey appreciate the irony of "Black" being written in red.Agent Dunn, nice to see you spreading good cheer as always.

  • jmcg

    I also disagree with Maddow and was surprised that more networks didn’t air the Tea Party Response. That being said, Bachmann has said some extremely nutty things and I think the Tea Party did themselves a disservice in selecting her to speak for them.

    • Mavis

      I actually agree with Maddow’s statement. The Tea Party ran on the Republican Ticket in their races. So essentially they are elected Republican officials. They did not run on a 3rd Party Ticket ala Ross Perot or Ralph Nader.

      • Jane2

        I agree with Maddow’s statement also. I was much more impressed with NBC and Brian Williams, who tacked Bachman on at the end and spend the bulk of their analysis on the President and Ryan’s response.

        CNN also had the hackiest of hacks as analysts…Erick Erickson?? Paul Begala??

      • allie

        me too. Until The Tea Party files as a 3rd party they are part of the Republican party. Having said that, Bachmann is a special kind of crazy so the more they use her as a front woman the better it is for the Democrats.

      • lesliemd

        Tea Partiers take money from the Republican National Party, they are on election ballots as Republicans and they are identified in Congress as Republicand. They are NOT 3rd party represntatives (I don’t see a “T” after their nam)s), nor are they even Independents.

        They take Republican money, they are Republicans, and therefore there should only have been the official Republican response. Let them raise their own money and run their own campaigns if they want to be identified as a 3rd party.

  • MDS

    Please let them keep talking. The more opportunities Bachman gets in front of the american public the more chances she has to put her foot in her mouth.

    • Kat

      No kidding. I knew she was kind of an idiot (I used to live in Minnesota), but somehow I hadn’t seen the clip Ken Tucker mentioned above where she discussed her hilariously wrong ideas about the history of equality in this country and the Founding Fathers. Holy sh*t.

      • Jason

        The problem is, it just doesn’t matter. Those who believe that nonsense will believe ANYTHING she says – even if she LITERALLY lifted her leg and put her foot in her mouth, they would STILL take everything as gospel.

        The only way to get rid of these morons is not be convincing the believers they are following idiots (for they themselves are idiots), but getting enough intelligent people (and I mean everyone from moderate conservatives left) to the voting polls to get them out of any share of power.

      • Red

        I don’t know how these people (Palin) keep thinking they are in charge and represent what the Tea Party is about. I am a Tea Party member and I don’t agree with everything they say. We are made up of all parties. We try to elect the person who really stands up for the people, doesn’t matter what party they are with. I don’t think there should be any partys, everyone should stand up on their own merits. That would make things more interesting!

      • Luddite

        Just a bit of confusion, Red. You don’t believe there should be any parties, yet identify as a Tea Party member?

  • Rob

    Kind of a pathetic hit piece. Why dont you go back to reveiwing Tv shows rather then trying to push your political opinion. When I want to read and discuss politics, Ken Tucker’s TV is not my first stop. How about talking about Castle or Southland or Being Human or Skins or Craig Fergeson or Lights Out.

    • asher

      How the heck did he push his political opinion? He just said some of things she said were nutty (which they were) but that he thought CNN was right to air her speech. That’s a very unbiased statement, and it had to do with TV, not politics. That’s what Ken does with other TV shows, states their merits, and also what he thinks is kind of out there about them.

      • Reena

        and yet @rob you did read and discussed on this article…

      • Nelle

        lsCRaw Walking in the presence of giants here. Cool thinking all around!

      • Pooja

        Funny as alywas, but I had an extra giggle when looking at the photos of "Meet a Black Person". I’m pretty sure the man in the fifth photo up from the bottom (baseball cap and beard) is my father! How fantastically random.

      • Serkan

        Free sno cones.I’ll have to rembmeer that for next winter.One flavour you missed was yellow.To top off the meet a black person sign one could have included the word "genuine".Great job as always,keep it up!strat

  • jets

    The Tea Party isn’t a third party; they’re just the extreme right of the Republican Party. To “balance out” and be “fair” coverage should also then include “the Blue Donkey Cong party” or at least a secondary Democrate response to the second far right Republican response.

    • Mavis

      Or maybe someone for the Rent is Too Damn High Party!

      • jets

        Mavis shut up.

      • Mavis

        Why? The Rent is Too Damn High is actually a political party in NY. You are very eloquent in your analysis of my comment. I actually agree with statement.

      • harry

        LOL!!!

    • Scott

      Exactly correct. The “Tea Party Caucus” is just a batcrap insane radical part of the GOP. How about a Dennis Kucinich rebuttal rebuttal rebuttal next time?

      • Mother Nature

        Dennis isn’t nearly as entertaining as Bachman. Please, keep letting this gal have camera time. She’s the best thing in the world for getting the crazy routed out of Washington. Maybe people will stop reactive voting and start paying attention to who’s running the country.

      • Philly

        I’m out of legaue here. Too much brain power on display!

  • keith

    I have no problem with cnn airing it. Bachman is, unfortunately, an elected official making political speech. Frankly, I’d give her her own network or reality show. She is a total moron and an embarrassement to anyone who votes for her. The best way to get rid of her is to give her more rope.

    • Elizabeth

      Well, a spot opened up on TLC…

      • footballmom

        I don’t care who you are, that is funny! :)

      • Johnson

        TLC Presents Michele Bachmann’s Space

      • Emjay

        Between her ears

    • MaryJane

      Yes, Bachmann is so far out there, she makes Palin look like a genius. She’s also obviously part of that Texas group who doesn’t believe that slavery really existed and that for those “few” who “supposedly” were a part of it, lived such a wonderful life that it could be glossed over in the history books. What’s really so scary is that the people in her district keep re-electing her to Congress, one must wonder “What were THEY thinking?

      • Ames

        All they have to say is they’ll keep taxes down and cut spending, and people will vote for them. They never even have to follow through with that promise. Just keep saying it, and blaming others when you’re not able to accomplish anything.

      • Anita

        Tell me about it. I’m from Iowa and we (not me) just re-elected Grassley (“They’re going to kill grandma!” and Steve King (Google him for some outrageous remarks.) Perhaps they are there to represent the “lunatic fringe”.

  • Jim

    I don’t have a problem with CNN airing it, but if Russ Feingold wanted to represent Code Pink and give a SOTU response in 2005, nobody would have aired it. Our Liberal Media at work.

    • Kim

      Yes, the “liberal media’. That’s why CNN, (which I have heard referred to as the Communist News Network. WTF?) actually let Michelle Bachmann give a speech. Rachel Maddow was correct. The republican party picked their representative and it wasn’t her. But CNN let her talk anyway. Liberal media, indeed.

      • Jason

        Jim keeps using that word. I don’t think it means what he thinks it means.

      • Jackie

        Ahh, a ‘Princess Bride’ reference in a comment to an article about the State of the Union Address. Jason, you made my day :)

      • Emjay

        And of course it has NOTHING to do witht he fact that CNN is teaming up with tea party to put on a presidential debate. Nope. Just coincidence.

  • Leithen

    If the Tea Party gets its own response, then why consider it part of the Republican party? Why not have separate candidates for office already? If they’re a third party, let them be a third party.

    • Strepsi

      And pay the costs associated with being a national party. For a movement of responsibility, the Tea Party sure likes getting a free ride!

  • Buffy Freak

    What the hell was Piers Morgan doing on CNN’s panel? He looked like a deer in the headlights. I guess they figured they paid him all that money so they better use him but he was ridiculously out of his element.

    • Jay E

      He was looking on CNN for America’s Got Talent. Obviously none was to be found on that network or MSNoBodyCares.

  • bob

    It is good to hear everything that we can from all parties so that we are an informed electorate. We only got the “good” stories about Obama and none of the truth during the election. Now we are stuck with an extremely far-left guy who’s inexperience at any kind of real-world job or office is killing our country. Where was the real news about this guy? I was duped once and would like for info on everyone from now on. (Just for the record, I would not want a far-right person in the white house either -we need an independant.)

    • Scobes

      You should examine more of recent politics before something like this – Obama is *moderate* leader. He’s exactly what you say you want in the White House. Someone like Dennis Kucinich is an “extremely far-left guy.”

    • Jose

      Hahaha! I heard of you all — y’all? — on NPR and rlelay enjoyed the segment. Made me want to come here and check you all out some more. Too bad there’s not much of a living to be made as a street performer, huh?

  • bob

    It is good to hear everything that we can from all parties so that we are an informed electorate. We only got the “good” stories about Obama and none of the truth during the election. Now we are stuck with an extremely far-left guy who’s inexperience at any kind of real-world job or office is killing our country. Where was the real news about this guy? I was duped once and would like all of the info on everyone from now on. (Just for the record, I would not want a far-right person in the white house either -we need an independant.)

    • Elizabeth

      WHY should we have to hear from them? Its the president’s speech.

      These “responses” are just as valuable and valid as watching Fashion Police on E! after an awards show.

      • asher

        LOL, pretty much true Liz!

      • alana

        Yeah, the responses are about as valuable and valid as the original sppeech – 1 hour and 13 minutes about “what we need to be working on.” Like, we didn’t already know what we need. SIGH!

    • pastafarian

      Which story from an “extremely far-left guy” are you referring to?

      Romney’s health care plan, McCain’s cap and trade, Bush’s TARP, Johnny Isakson’s end of life counseling or Milton Friedman’s monetary policy?

  • commentor

    I have no problem with giving airtime to a third political party, but Michelle Bachmann is as crazy stupid as they come, which represents the so called Tea Party perfectly.

  • Lisa

    I think it says something that she decided it was more important to address a small number of fervent followers then to talk to America as a whole.

  • malvinder kaur

    blah1 blah! loads of blahs…. excuse me i need to know how much corporations make for them to be in such high income tax bracket

    • bob

      What are you talking about?

  • Elizabeth

    Yes, the Tea Party is “part of the national conversation”, but serves as something to mercilessly mock when they make decisions like this and align themselves with these egomaniacs. If Dennis Kucinich wasn’t soooooo far left, he’d fit right in with that crowd!

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