Republican presidential candidates Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul expressed outrage shortly after the CBS News-National Journal GOP debate Saturday night, alleging that debate organizers specifically cut them out of the discussion.
The Minnesota congresswoman accused the debate planners of “outrageous manipulation” in suppressing the number of questions she would be asked, according to MinnPost.com
Similarly, Texas congressman Paul’s campaign shot out an email, with the subject line, “What a Joke,” after the debate, alleging that CBS limited him to 90 seconds of air time during the 90-minute debate, according to exeterpatch.com
A Bachmann spokeswoman had emailed debate organizers in an effort to set up a post-debate interview.
Hours before the debate, a CBS employee’s responding email said: "I was just speaking with Alice Stewart . . . about the Congresswoman or a senior member if (sic) her staff joining you for the webshow. She said she would be happy to arrange.”
On the email string, John Dickerson, the new political director for CBS, replied, apparently inadvertently including the Bachmann spokeswoman, with an email saying: "Okay 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"
Angry at what appeared to be CBS “oops" moment, Bachmann campaign manager Keith Nahigian responded on Facebook: "While Michele has been onstage at tonight's debate demonstrating strong leadership on foreign policy and national security, we received 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."
Nahigian was furious about the email after the debate, telling reporters in the spin room: “Jon Dickerson should be fired. He is a piece of s--t. He is a fraud and he should be fired," according to MinnPost.com.
Bachmann cited the incident as an example of media bias, with CNN quoting her as saying: "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.
In response, MinnPost quotes an email from a CBS spokeswoman describing Dickerson’s message as "a candid exchange about the reality of the circumstances — Bachmann remains at 4 percent in the polls."
Paul’s campaign echoed the Bachmann camp’s anger, with campaign manager John Tate’s “What a Joke” email saying: "It literally made me sick watching the mainstream media once again silence the one sane voice in this election. The one dissenter to a decade of unchecked war. The one candidate who stands for true defense and actual constitutional government. Ron Paul was silenced, in perhaps the most important debate of the cycle."
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