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Chris Wallace Asks Michele Bachmann, “Are You A Flake?”

Reported by Ellen - June 27, 2011 -

Congratulations to Chris Wallace for doing what I would have called impossible before Fox News Sunday yesterday (6/26/11) – making me agree with Michele Bachmann. In what I suppose he thought of as an example of evenhandedness and toughness in his interview, he asked her what was really an asinine and insulting question, “Are you a flake?” UPDATE: Wallace apologized via a web video. UPDATE 2: Bachmann was not truthful when asked about taking government money.

The exchange began at about 14 minutes into what was otherwise a nicely substantive and relatively fair interview.

Wallace said, “I don’t have to tell you that you have – the rap on you here in Washington is that you have a history of questionable statements, some would say gaffes, ranging from talking about anti-America members of Congress to – on this show, a couple of months ago – when you suggested that NATO airstrikes had killed up to 30,000 civilians.” Wallace took a dramatic pause and a breath, before continuing. “Are you a flake?”

Don’t get me wrong, I dislike Bachmann intensely enough to have donated money to her opponents even though I live in a different state. But what kind of answer would Wallace expect to a question like that?

Bachmann answered pretty decently. “Well, I think that would be insulting to say something like that, because I’m a serious person.” She went on to list her experience, her credentials and her background.

That’s when Wallace added chauvinism to insult. “Do you recognize that now that you’re in the spotlight in a way that you weren’t before, that you have to be careful and not say what some regard as flaky things?”

Bachmann replied, “Well, of course a person has to be careful with statements that they make.” She added that she thinks now she’ll have an opportunity to “speak fully” on the issues. “I look forward to that.”

Which was actually a pretty good answer to a pretty terrible question.

Had Wallace really wanted to be tough – instead of just looking the part – he could have made Bachmann defend her disturbing 2008 comments in which she called for McCarthy-like hearings into members of Congress – and then denied it. He also could have challenged her harder earlier in the interview when she raised her dubious defense for taking federal money - by saying neither she nor her husband benefited because the money was used to train employees. Instead, he made showboating motions of scrutinizing her flakiness without actually doing so.

UPDATE: In a "Wallace Unplugged" online video today, Wallace said, "I messed up. I'm sorry." Video below.

UPDATE 2: Politicususa nicely explains how Bachmann dissembled when she tried to explain away taking millions of dollars in state and federal earmarks - which she claims to oppose. It's too bad Wallace didn't confront that flakiness more definitively.

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