At 10:38 p.m. last night, The Daily Caller broke a story by Jonathan Strong about presidential hopeful Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) getting stress related migraines that require heavy duty medication. The publication allowed for off-the-record sourcing to protect ex-employees who provided information.
The hour was a strange one to break a story. But consider that other news outlets and reporters, such as ABC News Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross, were reportedly hot on the trail of Bachmann’s migraines and subsequent use of pills. Ross escorted Bachmann to her car and was grabbed roughly by two security guards, as reported on Twitter about 30 minutes ago by TIME‘s Senior Correspondent Michael Crowley. So time was of essence. A favorite line in the story involved Bachmann’s shoes. Strong wrote, “To staff, Bachmann has implausibly blamed the headaches on uncomfortable high-heel shoes, but those who have worked closely with her cite stress, a busy schedule and anything going badly for Bachmann as causes.”
Members of the online media didn’t take long to pounce on the story in both favorable and unfavorable ways. Drudge picked it up pretty quickly this morning. The Atlantic‘s Joshua Green wrote a spin-off story about how Bachmann, if elected president, would be one in a long line of presidents with ailments. He went deep into the bowels (pun intended) of history, writing about the anal fissure of James Garfield, the colonic polyps of George W. Bush and a flu that caused George H. Bush to vomit on the Prime Minister of Japan.
Politico blogger Ben Smith, who has had sharp differences with Daily Caller Editor-in-Chief Tucker Carlson in the past, meanwhile, took the opportunity to go on the attack. He insisted on Twitter that suggesting that migraines make Bachmann unsuitable for the Oval Office is wrong and should be reworded. “Daily Caller suggests migraines make Bachmann unfit to be POTUS,” he wrote.
Carlson fired back in a few tweets, “We did not suggest that. Please correct. That’s a direct quote from a former aide, not editorializing from us, as the piece makes clear.”
Smith replied, “”Maybe ‘raises question’ rather than ‘suggests.” He later appeared to minimally apologize to Strong, writing, “Serves me right for tweeting your interesting, well-reported story which has no implications for ’12. Apologies, misread. Though I think somebody hacked your account and tweeted that the headaches were “potentially disqualifying.”
Smith and Strong are apparently back on relatively good terms this afternoon.
But not everyone even at Politico shared Smith’s critiques. Mike Allen, who hasn’t linked to The Daily Caller in a long while, featured it in this morning’s Playbook. And Ken Vogel publicly praised Strong, showing that those at Politico don’t necessarily speak for the entire publication. “Kudos to @j_strong & @DailyCaller for the responsible way they handled Michele Bachmann migraine scoop #SolidJournalism,” Vogel wrote on Twitter.
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