CBS News is denying the charge leveled by GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann’s campaign that the network showed anti-conservative bias yesterday. At issue is a private email about coverage plans for last night’s CBS News/National Journal debate. Correspondent John Dickerson mistakenly cc’ed a Bachmann spokesperson in his response to a note from politics producer Caroline Horn, and the congresswoman posted the exchange on Facebook. In it, Dickerson urged the network not to firmly commit to an interview with Bachmann “in the hopes that we can get someone else” because “she’s not going to get many questions and she’s nearly off the charts.”
To Bachmann campaign manager Keith Nahigian, that’s “concrete evidence confirming what every conservative already knows — the liberal mainstream media elites are manipulating the Republican debates by purposely suppressing our conservative message and limiting Michele’s questions.” But a CBS spokesperson says that’s not true: “It was a candid exchange about the reality of the circumstances — Bachmann remains at 4% in the polls.”
Bachmann wasn’t the only candidate upset with CBS News: Ron Paul’s National Campaign Chairman Jesse Benton slammed the network for only giving Paul 90 seconds of speaking time during the hour. “CBS News, in their arrogance, may think they can choose the next president,” he said. “Fortunately, the people of Iowa, New Hampshire, and across America get to vote and not the media elites.”
Lest anyone forget, CBS News has ran afoul of the GOP during presidential races before. Republicans accused Katie Couric of sandbagging VP candidate Sarah Palin with those infamous interviews in the last election cycle, and felt Dan Rather did the same to President George W Bush in the 2004 election by using unverified documents to question the re-election candidate’s National Guard service.