Gingrich should thank 'mainstream media'

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If former House Speaker Newt Gingrich eventually wins the Republican presidential nomination - a big "if" - he'll owe a huge debt of gratitude to the so-called "mainstream media," which propelled him to a decisive victory in the South Carolina primary last weekend.

And if he wins, Gingrich should send personal thank-you notes to clueless CNN anchor John King and ABC-TV chief investigative reporter Brian Ross, whose incredibly stupid editorial decisions allowed the feisty former speaker to attack the mainstream media, which he loves to do. In other words, King and Ross served up big fat softballs to Gingrich, and he knocked them out of the ballpark, much to the delight of conservative voters in South Carolina and around the nation. My conclusion: The New York and Washington media elites just don't get it in their continuing campaign to discredit conservative candidates.

Although I could never vote for Gingrich, I admired the way he confronted CNN's King, who began a recent GOP presidential debate by asking about Ross' "exclusive" ABC interview with one of Newt's two ex-wives. The ex-wife told Ross that Newt had asked her to engage in an "open marriage," which she rejected.

Gingrich immediately attacked King, calling his second wife's claim "trash" and saying he was "appalled" that King would open a presidential debate with such a question. South Carolinians attending the debate rewarded Gingrich with a standing ovation before voting to give him a 40-28 percent victory over the previous front-runner, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

"Taking on the media is always good in a Republican primary," said Fox News analyst Karl Rove, who was a top adviser to former President George W. Bush. "John King couldn't have set up the question in a more positive way for Gingrich ..."

It was painful to watch if you were a Romney supporter, but my fellow Democrats loved it because they'd much rather face Gingrich than Romney in the fall.

ABC-TV rushed to broadcast the Marianne Gingrich interview two days before the South Carolina primary, which looks to me like a political decision. Now I'm expecting ABC to broadcast a prime-time documentary on President Obama's longtime friendship with his notoriously anti-American pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, two days before the general election in November. Or maybe not.

A news analysis by the British wire service, Reuters, opined that King helped Newt win the South Carolina primary. A 2008 Republican presidential candidate, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, told Reuters that Gingrich should take King out "for a big steak dinner."

I can't imagine that my Republican friends would actually nominate the polarizing Gingrich as their presidential candidate, but stranger things have happened. Fred Barnes, executive editor of the neoconservative Weekly Standard, last week wrote that "it's the habit of Republicans to do something crazy or stupid that diminishes their election prospects" and accused GOP presidential hopefuls of "poisoning the well" for their party's congressional candidates.

But if the Republicans nominate Gingrich, they'll have only themselves to blame for giving President Obama a second term.

• Guy W. Farmer, of Carson City, is the Appeal's senior political columnist.


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