Quelle surprise: Bachmann bails on Newsweek reporter who failed to kiss her ass sufficiently

Remember Andrew Romano, the Twitterer from last week? It turns out Bachmann doesn’t like criticism, so she canceled an interview he had scheduled with her. This in turn killed the print piece he had been assigned, but it didn’t kill his ability to blog, so he did. Most of his story is actually a meta-piece about Twitter journalism and worth a read if you’re interested in new journalistic frontiers. But the Bachmann-cancels stuff is at the end, and we’re reproducing all of it here:

But ultimately, the most important aspect of this experiment wasn’t what I wrote or discovered on Twitter. It was how Bachmann behaved because of it. In physics there’s something called the observer effect, which refers “to changes that the act of observation will make on the phenomenon being observed.” Typically, reporters keep their observations to themselves until the profile is published. With Twitter, I was publishing every observation as I made it. This had an effect. Around 3:30 on Tuesday afternoon—an hour or two before I was scheduled to fly from Minneapolis to Washington, where Bachmann had agreed to sit for an interview the following morning—I received an e-mail from the congresswoman’s office saying that she no longer had any time for me. I offered to come by Wednesday afternoon, or Thursday, or to speak by phone. Sorry, her people said. She’s just too busy.

Call me a cynic, but I’m not buying it. I’ve yet to meet a legislator who’s so burdened by the demands of a normal workweek that he or she is forced to renege on a 20-minute interview with a national magazine at the last minute. Politicians tend to find time for publicity—especially Bachmann, who by one estimate appears on national cable every nine days. My guess is that her staff read my tweets and decided that it wasn’t in Bachmann’s best interest to talk to me. And that says as much about Bachmann as anything I observed on the road. Given her mastery of the provocative soundbite and her recent ranking as the most influential Twitterer in the House, I’d initially believed that Bachmann, love her or hate her, was emblematic of a new, niche-media breed of politician. But it turns out that she’s just a louder-mouthed version of the old model: happy to attack her opponents from afar, happy to play the victim, but unwilling to engage, mano a mano, with anyone she deems insufficiently friendly. What Twitter revealed about Bachmann is that she’s not democratic enough for Twitter—or the new era it embodies.

Without the interview, my editors killed the print piece. Which is fine with me. For my next Twitter project, I’d prefer to profile someone who doesn’t prescreen her town-hall questions or try to prevent me from attending all but the most scripted of events. In other words, someone who’s comfortable with the new medium, not suspicious of it.

Now that would be exciting.


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