A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Stop the @#%! ‘Profanity’


Do "bleep" and "@#%!" count as low-down, shocking "profanity"? Michele Bachmann says they do.

The GOP House member from Minnesota is claiming in a fundraising appeal to conservative donors that her Democratic election opponent, Tarryl Clark, released a "shocking, profanity-laced attack against me" and has thus reached "a new low."

Here’s the video in question. (It’s a satirical Web video, not a real TV ad.) Readers can judge for themselves how "shocking" it is.

The ad’s narrator says, "Michele Bachmann — not doing [bleeping sound] for the people of the 6th District." On screen, viewers see "Not doing @#%!"

It doesn’t take much imagination for the viewer to fill in the missing word, but "shocking" or not, the fact is that nothing profane is spoken or seen.

Nevertheless, Bachmann’s husband, Marcus, started sending e-mails to potential donors last week calling this "a crude attack ad" and seeking $150,000 to "fight the smears." And just yesterday, a message from Bachmann herself landed in the inbox of a friend of FactCheck.org, who forwarded it to us. Bachmann calls the ad a "shocking and misleading attack," and asks for money to "defend myself."

From: Michele Bachmann <info@michelebachmann.com>
To:
Sent: Tue Oct 12
Subject: Fwd: A shocking and misleading attack

Dear Friend,

The Obama/Pelosi attack machine has made me one of their top targets for defeat this year, and their hand-picked candidate has reached a new low. Last week, my opponent released an advertisement featuring a shocking, profanity-laced attack against me, and the liberal blogosphere went crazy over it, pumping money into my opponent’s campaign bank account to defeat me. Today, I’m writing to ask for your help to defend myself against this attack.

[EET ]

My campaign team has informed me that we need to raise an additional $26,000 by midnight to meet our fundraising goal to fight back against this smear ad. So will you help me raise these additional funds by following this link? Raising the money necessary to launch a response will send the message to my opponent that, while she may stoop to a new lows each week, we can mobilize and fight back with the facts.

I’m humbled and thankful to know that you stand with me as I defend myself against these crude attacks from the left. I’ve included a message my husband Marcus sent to my campaign’s supporters last week and I hope you will take a moment to read the message below and make donation to help me defend myself against these constant attacks.

Thank you,
Michele

[/EET]

Is the video also "misleading" as Bachmann claims? Not so much.

The ad says Bachmann "stood up for BP" during the gulf oil spill, and indeed she did. Bachmann told a Washington Post interviewer: "But if I was the head of BP, I would let the signal get out there — ‘We’re not going to be chumps,’ " just as the ad says. In fact, Bachmann went even further, adding: "They shouldn’t have to be fleeced and make chumps to have to pay for perpetual unemployment and all the rest." Bachmann accused President Barack Obama of making BP "evil" and said the company should only pay "legitimate claims."

The ad also cites her vote against the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009, and says, correctly, that she voted against the new health care law. 

We’ll leave it to readers to judge whether all that amounts to standing up for oil companies, Wall Street, insurance companies and other "special interests" while supposedly not doing anything for her own district. That’s a matter of opinion. And so too is the line between shocking profanity and barbed satire.