Fact-checkers, copy editors on why they'll be affected by Michele Bachmann's retirement

U.S. Rep Michele Bachmann announced early Wednesday that she would not seek her seat next year, an announcement that will land hard on two constituencies: Fact-checkers and copy editors.

"She was great to cover because she was consistently and unapologetically wrong," Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler told Poynter in an email. "But others will fill the breach, I am sure!" In a post bidding her adieu, Kessler wrote that Bachmann's absence "will leave the Capitol a much less interesting place to fact check."

PolitiFact's voluminous Bachmann archives -- which currently comprise 243 entries -- are a particularly hallucinogenic history of the last few years of American politics: The site even wrote a post this past March welcoming her back after she appeared at CPAC: "She came into the conservative confab with 12 Pants on Fire ratings and quickly added two more," Louis Jacobson wrote.

"We will miss Michele Bachmann. She kept the Truth-O-Meter busy -- and occasionally made it burst into flames," PolitiFact Editor Bill Adair told Poynter in an email. "She cited our work once during a debate, saying that we had rated all of her claims from a previous debate to be True. But alas, she was wrong and earned another Pants on Fire."

(Here's what appears to be the first of many PolitiFact checks of a Bachmann statement: When she claimed Timothy Geithner "left the option on the table" to drop the dollar as U.S. currency.)

And then there's the matter of Bachmann's name, so difficult to spell correctly that her own campaign once got it wrong. Slate Home Page Editor Chad Lorenz told Poynter's Mallary Tenore last year his site had botched Bachmann's name repeatedly: "spelling it with two L’s instead of one and her last name with one N instead of two," Tenore wrote.

Asked whether he thought Bachmann's job change might threaten employment in his industry, author and Washington Post copy editor Bill Walsh said, "We'll always have 'Ghandi.' "

But perhaps all is not lost. In her statement, Bachmann said: "There is no future option or opportunity, be it directly in the political arena or otherwise, that I won’t be giving serious consideration."

Correction: In a brutal proof of Muphry's Law, this post originally misspelled Glenn Kessler's first name.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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