Reporters have been outraged by their rough handling by Michele Bachmann's aides out on the presidential campaign trail in the last few weeks. CNN's Don Lemon angrily recounted on-air how he was elbowed into a golf cart; Politico counted four other physically hostile encounters between Bachmann's staff and the press. But when they're not getting rough, Bachmann's staff can be quite nice, provided reporters ask the right questions.
Unlike other candidates who let reporters fire questions after a public appearance for five or 10 minutes in a scrum, known as a "press avail," Mrs. Bachmann takes questions in a well-mannered way at a microphone stand in front of her bus --- but only from reporters whose names she calls from a list, like a substitute teacher.The list is compiled by Alice Stewart, Ms. Bachmann's press secretary, and whether she pre-screens reporters and their questions to control the candidate's message is an open issue.Ms. Stewart insisted she did not. The list, she said, is to exclude "Obama trackers" looking to provoke a gaffe, as well as to ensure that local reporters aren’t crowded out by national media. Local reporters' questions often are less pointed.Brandon Herring, a reporter for WBMF television in Myrtle Beach, said that Ms. Stewart had approached him while Mrs. Bachmann spoke and asked if he wanted to ask a question. He said he did. "She said, 'You want to ask about Myrtle Beach, I imagine,'" Mr. Herring said. "I was like, yea, I guess I do."