Michele Bachmann junkies at Minnesota Independent?

Eric Ostermeier at Smart Politics, the blog of the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota, reports today that of roughly 900 articles published by the Minnesota Independent over the last six months, 20.1 percent of them focused on the ever controversial and outspoken conservative U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann. In March, it was almost 30 percent.

The site's editor, Paul Schmelzer, said he's seen the report, and greeted it with a shrug: "I don't have a comment except to say that I'm glad to have such an avid reader in Eric Ostermeier and that his analysis won't affect our future coverage."

The content analysis, which tracked stories from Oct. 1 to the end of March, found that the site's coverage breaks down into four categories: Follow Bachmann's travel schedule, track her words, report on her critics and inject her into reports on other political races. She garners far more coverage than any other Minnesota representative, senator or the governor.

  • Rep. Michele Bachmann: 178 stories
  • Gov. Tim Pawlenty: 112
  • Sen. Al Franken: 51
  • Rep. Keith Ellison: 24
  • Rep. Erik Paulsen: 16
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar: 16
  • Rep. Jim Oberstar: 13
  • Rep. Tim Walz: 13
  • Rep. Collin Peterson: 10
  • Rep. Betty McCollum: 8

This morning, among other political stories, Bachmann has seven headlines on the site's front page, and she's teased in the text under the headline of an eighth.

  • Kline, Paulsen missing from Bachmann repeal bill
  • Bachmann: No racial tensions in tea party protests
  • Hagedorn: Quist too close to Bachmann, too controversial
  • Bachmann backtracks on congressional insurance, 'deem and pass'
  • From boxing ring, Bachmann decries 'pantywaist Republicans'
  • CBS News: 'Bachmann offers big numbers, little proof'
  • Bachmann missed four times more committee votes than Ellison, Paulsen
  • Clark wins DFL endorsement, Reed to take it to primary ( will "square off against Rep. Michele Bachmann")

Noting that the site is one of the most-read left-leaning new media publications in Minnesota, Ostermeier said, "Perhaps the left, or at least the left-leaning media, thus secretly hopes the Congresswoman is victorious once again, so they can continue their love-hate affair that has now developed into nearly a half-decade long relationship."

"Michele Bachmann has been good copy for a long time," Ostermeier said, acknowledging that coverage of the congresswoman can be like cat nip for readers and draw larger audiences for publishers. But he said he didn't speak with anyone at the Independent prior to publishing the piece, and he kept his Web site traffic comments out of the study because he had no way of objectively making his point.

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