Michele Bachmann and the Corn Dog Media Circus

Michele Bachmann corn dog.

Michele Bachmann eats a corn dog at the Iowa State Fair. Photo: Toby Harnden

A presidential candidate eats a corn dog. No biggie, unless that candidate is a woman and she happens to look like Michele Bachmann. The featured image here needs no commentary. In question are today’s media ethics and dynamics.

When I first saw a picture of this lady eating a corn dog at the Iowa State Fair yesterday, my first reaction was “and this is why the Royal family never eats corn dogs in public.” I expected a few gossip magazines to pick that image up, dissect it, compare it with cheap porn, you name it. But I didn’t expect more reputed publications to follow the same path.

I don’t really get why a presidential candidate eating a corn dog is news, and why it is entertainment. I don’t get why journalists in their right minds would write something to insinuate that Bachmann was “blowing the corndog” or “sucking the footlong patriotic corndog of freedom.” After all, at the Iowa State Fair, eating corn dogs and funnel cakes is a tradition. But these are not the main issues. I take issue with some journalists’ idea that Toby Harnden should be fired for publishing the photo.

Let me elaborate: this is not the only “outrageous” picture of Michele Bachmann and the corn dog. There is another similar picture, showing Michele Bachmann eating a corn dog from her profile, in circulation on Reuters, main stream media and many blogs. That image didn’t get so much flack – and it’s no better than Harnden’s. Is Harnden’s particular snapshot “sexist,” or are we programed to see women like this in most natural circumstances? Bachmann ate a corn dog at the Iowa State Fair to show the people around her that she respects their traditions. No one can eat a corn dog with “grace.” But, Harnden published the picture, and according to some, made sexist insinuations:

Driving away on a golf cart with her husband Marcus beside her, Mrs. Bachmann stopped to buy a foot-long corn dog – a chicken and beef sausage in deep-fried batter. After applying mustard and allowing Mr. Bachmann to take the first bite, she chomped into it with gusto.

I don’t know what is worse. That Harnden published the picture, or that he concluded his Fried food and retail politics at the Iowa State Fair editorial with the cited paragraph. But in the true spirit of the inverted pyramid, that piece of information is the least important in the news. Except that… it’s not. In fact, Harnden made the news focus on the infamous corndog from the title. Bachmann’s status as a Straw Poll favorite came in second.

Regardless, the depiction of Bachmann eating a corn dog is not sexist. It’s what you want it to be. They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder – this picture is the clear reason why. The problem is not Toby Harnden. The media should take issues with people who imagine a sex act when they see a woman eating a corn dog, banana, or whatever cylindrical-shaped food, for that matter.

On another note, Michele Bachmann should be grateful for the infamous picture. Now her name is an international trend. Perhaps not for the reasons she was hoping for, but she can pick things up from here. First comes the brand, after all.

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  1. Callie says

    I can’t believe the people who are calling her husband a closet gay. If you assume this from his actions, *you* are the narrow-minded one here – narrow-minded in your definition of what a straight or gay man or woman looks like and acts like. It’s a shame that you’ve convinced yourself of his orientation, instead of accepting him for who he says he is.

  2. Jerud says

    It’s funny and relevant because Michelle Bachmann is herself a joke. If you discriminate against large portions of a populous based on their sexuality you should be prepared to be laughed at for eating the world’s largest corn dog whilst you eyes roll back in your head.

  3. Mike says

    the only reason why this picture is hillarious is because she is anit-gay and largely anti-sex, and her husband is clearly a closeted gay man in deep denial, who also hurts other gays by “curing” them from homosexuality.. and to see both of there dangerous loons choking on a protruded object of that size immediately brings crazily funny and ironic thoughts into mind of everyone who sees it, all of you included.. it has nothing to do with bad picture, or bad angle, and everything with who is on the picture..

  4. Russ Rogers says

    I saw the Rick Perry eating a Corndog picture first. Just as unflattering, and hyped up as much as this one. And the Marcus Bachmann eating a Corndog is hilarious! I want to start a tumblr page, “Politicians Eating Corndogs!”

    • Mihaela Butler says

      Let us know when the page is up, Russ, when you do. That would be really funny. Just don’t scare the politician away from the corndog. :)

  5. Gern Blanston says

    this is just funny. if she wasn’t such a polarizing bat shit crazy figure who is the front runner for the GOP, i wouldn’t give two shits about this pic. but she is polarizing bat shit crazy front runner for the GOP and this makes her fair game for everything. she should know better. better yet, her handlers should know better.

    • robert says

      …especially when she softly scratches down the side with her nails. And yes…bat shit crazy indeed.

  6. Me says

    I don’t really get why a sycophants like Mihaela Lica Butler can actually take themselves so seriously while they rant incessantly with disingenuous bewilderment about the wide Internet circulation of an unflattering and obviously amusing candid photograph of a long-shot presidential candidate that routinely says things that are outrageous, provocative, inflammatory, hypocritical, and just plain crazy.

    The fact that her husband is a flamboyant closet case that clandestinely professes to “fix” homosexuals makes it all the more amusing.

    Thanks for the fleeting amusement, clowns. She will soon be just another fringe politician that exploited her 15 minutes.

    • Mihaela Butler says

      Did you notice that I am not an American citizen, I don’t live in the US and I have no interest in flattering anyone? You missed the point of the article.

  7. William Payton says

    Wonder if we could get a cover of Princess Diana chomping on a dog with gusto from Newsweek. Regardless, Bachmann is the Mrs O’Leary’s cow of politics. It’s not like the press was waiting for the one moment to pounce. Bachmann is a fount of ill-considered acts. Here’s a tip for her political team: if someone offers Michelle a free ride on a mechanical bull at another state fair, please think it out.

  8. Kay Haas says

    She set herself up with her ridiculous “gays can be cured with prayer” and “reinstate don’t ask don’t tell” positions. She is so clueless about life outside the Midwest Radical Christian corridors that she doesn’t realize how ridiculous she looks to the rest of us, so she deserves all the criticism she is getting.

    • Mihaela Butler says

      I agree to criticize and debate her convictions, Kay. But I strongly disagree with using hardcore sexual innuendos to discredit her.

      • Kay Haas says

        I’m not saying I approve of it, I’m saying she has set herself up for it. Michele Bachmann arouses the kind of response she is getting. If she were more aware of how people see her, she would have never put her mouth in that position to begin with. Her positions are so radical that she evokes this extreme response, and her media people should be giving her better advice, but apparently they are too cloistered to realize it as well. Bachmann is a joke to people who live outside her narrow world, and as long as she keeps up her extreme political positions, she opens herself up to ridicule.

        • Mihaela Butler says

          That’s correct, Kay. I bet she understands the risks. How do you explain her popularity in Iowa though? Is it an accident, or a sign that she is gaining momentum? In my opinion, this picture, as goofy as it is, strengthens her popularity index.

        • Kay Haas says

          The Iowa straw poll is a media event that has little relevance in nationwide politics. She is popular with a very small fringe group that is very vocal but does not represent anything close to a majority in the entire U.S. No one who’s won the Iowa straw poll has ever gone on to win the election ever in history.

        • Paul Werling says

          It’s not news, but it is funny. Bachmann is extremely popular here in Florida also! I think there is only one person more popular, and she hasn’t thrown her hat in the ring. Everyone needs to relax, there are far more important things happening all over the globe to get upset about.

  9. IU ERIK says

    I think its obvious… they snapped multiple pics and took the most suggestive (worst) one they could find. There are few (if any) photographers that take perfect pictures.. Half of my pics have red-eye, closed eyes, blurry, and so on. Some of them are funny and I laugh when I look at them but I don’t post those pics… The media is going to do anything and everything they can to discredit this woman, make her look like a fool, and/or deligitimize her. They thought they could post this picture and damage her… They did exactly what they set out to do… Its just another example of why we need to realize the mission of the MSM and blow it off… No pun intended. I can assure you if Michelle Obama had her lips wrapped around a crondog you would never see it.

    • Mihaela Butler says

      Erik, if Toby Harnden did it on purpose, to hurt her, he is not worthy of being called a journalist. But I don’t believe he did it on purpose. I’d like to remind you that this is not the only image portraying Bachmann with a corn dog in her mouth. The Reuters image is just as bad, only not “full frontal.” Anyway, assuming that they did use this picture to discredit her, there are PR ways to turn this into her advantage – even better than “ignore it and it will go away.”

      • IU ERIK says

        I would argue that Toby viewed the picture more as “fortunate by-product” than a deliberate snap… you cant take a picture this bad on purpose. He did, however, make a concious decision to publish it… no different than Tina Brown’s decision to post that horrible picture of Bachman on the cover of Newsweek! So egregious was that photo John Stewart came to her defense… Sorta. Make her look stupid, weak, insignifigant at all costs because we don’t like her politics. Point is that he assumbly took several pics and this is the one he chose… the why is obvious and as aforementioned, its a political hack-job. Lets deligitimize her by publishing a picture with phallic overtones. You are absolutely correct that others have taken similar pictures… They too exercised poltical harpooning and poor judgement. Thank you for your reply to my post. I enjoy a healthy respectful discussion.

        • Mihaela Butler says

          A very good point, Erik. His decision to publish the goofiest picture is obvious. Apparently Tina Brown set up a dangerous trend – beginning with the cover featuring Princess Diana a month ago.

    • Footlong Corndog says

      I really, really, really want a pic of Michelle Obama with her lips wrapped tightly around a corndog.

  10. Towers says

    I don’t know, on the one hand your points are well-taken. On the other hand, my God that is a ridiculous picture, and no where do you acknowledge that she’s not just eating a corn dog, she is absolutely zoned out, eyes half-closed sharking on that corn dog. If I saw anyone – male or female – attacking a corn dog with that kind of gusto, I would laugh.

    I think the lesson here is “don’t eat corn dogs in front of a camera,” not the media. Hell, I’m not a public figure but you’ll never catch me eating a corn dog in a public place for fear of looking even a little like Michelle looks in that photo.

    • Mihaela Butler says

      Towers, it’s just a snapshot – a very bad picture. I cannot criticize the way she looks in this picture, because it is by no means a “pose.” If this was a planned shot, I’d crucify her PR. It was not. I don’t care that she looks a bit goofy, that she is not as photogenic as she usually is. The whole media circus was pushed by sexual innuendos. And that’s the issue. Why do we even come close to the idea that she is “blowing a corn dog” is beyond my comprehension.

      • Nick says

        “Why do we even come close to the idea that she is “blowing a corn dog” is beyond my comprehension.”

        I guess it’s because she looks like she’s deep-throating a schlong. But again, that’s just a guess.

        I don’t think the photo is sexist. Juvenile? Sure. But if Santorum had won the Iowa Joke Poll and similar pictures of him surfaced, they’d be all over the internet, too.

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