One pernicious myth concerning Michele Bachmann had its genesis on "Hardball with Chris Matthews." Bachmann questioned Barack Obama's past associations and questioned whether he might hold anti-american views like those of Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers.
Matthews turned the interview into an argument, attempting at every turn to reduce the issue of Obama's views to an absurdity. I recommend watching the video or reading the entire transcript to get the full flavor, but the important part occurs at the end:
Matthews spent much of the interview equivocating, and at this stage of the interview has transformed Bachmann's statement that she thinks Obama may hold anti-American views into the notion that Obama is anti-American on the whole or at least on balance. Rather than answering a question containing a false premise, Bachmann returned to her point that Americans should be informed of the views of their representatives. And she called on the media to make that contribution to democracy.
MR. MATTHEWS: Well, he's a United States senator from Illinois. He's one of the people you suspect as being anti-American. How many people in the Congress of the United States do you think are anti- American? You've already suspected Barack Obama. Is he alone, or are there others? How many do you suspect of your colleagues as being anti-American?
REP. BACHMANN: What I would say -- what I would say is that the news media should do a penetrating expose and take a look. I wish they would. I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America? I think people would love to see an expose like that.
Maybe it's just me, but I had the impression that Matthews throughout held the attitude that questioning whether others hold anti-American views is anti-American or something. And this is how Bachmann's appearance was played up:
New McCarthyism: Bachmann calls for investigation of ‘anti-American’ Congress
Bachmann Calls For McCarthyite Investigation Into Anti-American Activities Of Liberals
Michelle Bachmann gives voice to the right's darkest impulses
Realistically, it just does not make any sense to see something bad in wanting the media to inform the public about the views of elected representatives. Yet after more than a year, the lies about Bachmann come close enough to conventional wisdom to sneak past the desk of at least one editor at Politico.com:
They would like to capitalize on the fervor of the tea party foot soldiers, who have been quick to adopt Bachmann as an icon of their movement. But they’re wary of the movement’s fringe elements and, at times, of Bachmann, who made a name for herself last year when she called for an investigation into “anti-America” members of Congress and more recently when she referred to the Democrats’ health care plan as the “crown jewel of socialism.”The words chosen by authors Jonathan Allen and Meredith Shiner feed directly into the notion that Bachmann did something significantly similar to what Joe McCarthy did.
That is simply false. But media outlets pull stunts like this every single day of the week.
11/7/09: Edited to patch a few holes in my prose