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An Interesting Coincidence

For much of the day, the second most-read story on the Minneapolis Star Tribune web site was this one, from the Associated Press: “Bachmann: Dem connection to outbreak ‘interesting.’” Here is the substance of the story:

Rep. Michele Bachmann says she finds it an “interesting coincidence” that the last swine flu outbreak in the U.S. occurred under a Democratic president — though her claim is historically inaccurate.

The last major outbreak of swine flu occurred in 1976, when Republican Gerald Ford was president. …

Bachmann, a Minnesota Republican, made her comments to conservative media outlet Pajamas TV on Monday. She says she’s not “blaming this on President Obama” but found it an interesting coincidence that a Democrat was running the country at the time of the outbreak.

I find this story notable in several respects. First, though, let’s acknowledge this this was a rare occasion when Congresswoman Bachmann, a very smart person, said something that was both wrong and–sorry, Michele–dumb. It was dumb because even if the first swine flu outbreak had occurred during the Carter administration, it would not be an “interesting coincidence.” The fact would have no significance at all.

But that isn’t why I think the story is worth mentioning. Start with the fact that this is undoubtedly the first time the Star Tribune has ever mentioned PJTV. It’s hard to imagine what, other than an opportunity to play “gotcha” with a Republican, would cause the paper to publicize the upstart internet news network.

That raises the next question: does the Associated Press monitor PJTV, waiting for a conservative to make a mistake so they can write a story about it? I don’t think so. Rather, there are groups–web sites and far-left activists here in Minnesota and elsewhere–who monitor everything Bachmann does. They read her speeches, watch her (many) television appearances, sometimes follow her around from place to place, and now, evidently, tune in to PJTV. (I hope they paid for a subscription.) Why do they do this? Solely in hopes of catching her in an error–or, more often, an alleged error–which they then broadcast on their web sites.

So there is actually an “interesting coincidence” here. What this story illustrates is the symbiotic relationship among liberal web sites, the Associated Press and mainstream newspapers. Liberal activists do the work, digging up nuggets that the Associated Press writes stories about and papers like the Star Tribune carry as articles. All for the purpose of trying to defeat a conservative, like Michele Bachmann, in the next election.

It would be interesting to try to add up the number of times we here at Power Line have caught errors that were made by Democratic politicians. They must number in the hundreds. Yet I can’t recall a single instance where the Associated Press has picked up on one of those errors and put it out as a news story so that it could be carried in the politician’s home-town paper. That’s the kind of error, apparently, that neither the AP nor the newspapers have much interest in.

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