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January 31, 2011

Explained: Bachmann Was Looking Off To The Side Because the Media Insisted On Bringing Their Own Camera, Which She Wasn't Looking At

The set-up was that the Tea Party Express had set up the camera for webcast, and mounted the TelePrompTer just above it (as they do) so that she'd be looking pretty much right at the webcast camera.

However, for purposes of televising the speech, FoxNews brought its own camera, which they set up next to the official one. That was the pool camera that CNN used for its coverage.

But Bachmann wasn't looking at that camera. She was looking at the one they'd set up. They tried to compromise, and suggest "Okay, if you're insisting on using another camera, let's put the TelePrompTer on yours, so she can look into that." FoxNews refused, deciding to do so would be to use their camera to service her speech, or, in their minds, to become part of the story instead of just reporting the story.

This was a very stupid call on Fox's part. Because, of course, the reason that Obama (and just about everyone else) can look right into the camera during a televised address is that the TelePrompTer is right above their camera, and they supply the feed the networks used. FoxNews (and CNN) were therefore not giving Bachmann the benefit of the same rules.

I don't know if they did this deliberately (it's possible -- I vented my own ire at Bachmann for trying, in my mind, to upstage an important rebuttal; it's possible that someone at Fox had the same annoyance), or if they were just being stupid.

But there you go-- that's the reason Bachmann wasn't looking at the camera is that the media insisted on not using her own camera as the feed, which they do for anyone else making that kind of direct address.

Saturday Night Live of course used this to spoof her in its cold open this Saturday (beginning of the clip here). (That's not really funny or worth watching -- I'm including it just because it's newsworthy, sort of.)

That said, while they did goof on her for something that turns out to have not been her fault, I thought it was a very mild spoof that wound up actually helping her a little.

Of all the attacks you can make on someone, goofing on them for a technical difficulty is pretty much the mildest. While they were busting on her for looking at the camera, they were not rebutting her facts and figures or suggesting they were in error.

Maybe people don't think like I do, but when a situation like that pops up, I assume (as a lawyer would) that facts not challenged are stipulated and admitted into evidence.

If I were a politician, and I had a left-leaning comedy show eager to attack me, I know I'd count myself ahead of the game if their only line of attack concerned some technical glitches.

A weak attack is almost a compliment -- it announces "This is all we've got."


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posted by Ace at 02:04 PM

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