Newt vs CNN; First Round TKO

Correspondent John King was lit up like a deer in the headlights by Newt Gingrich at the Republican presidential debate in South Carolina on 19 January. If audience reaction is a measure, King came across like a prissy cocker spaniel baiting a pit bull. Clearly Johnnie clueless had to put a rug cleaning bill and several pairs of knickers on his South Carolina per diem claim. You may recall that King works for Cable News Network (CNN); the 24 hour news advocacy channel begun by one of Jane Fonda's boy toys.

King opened the debate with a banal, offensive, and irrelevant inquiry about Gingrich's second marriage. The opening question wasn't a hanging curve ball; it was more like a 30 MPH "fastball." Predictably, Newt hit it out of the park to a standing ovation. By morning, Gingrich was ahead of Mitt Romney in the Carolina polls. Clearly, the bitter ex-wife smear backfired. John King's smarmy imitation of Nina Totenberg was a coast-to-coast bust.

Gingrich, like Clarence Thomas, knows that the best strategy with Media bullies is to bloody their nose. Rush Limbaugh would take it a step further; he suggests that someone needs to audit the love lives of Media types - if entertainment is the name of the game in presidential campaigns.

Who at CNN thought that Newt wouldn't be ready for an opportunity to expose CNN as another partisan network? If King's boss had any performance criteria, John King would be another unemployment statistic today. King tried to defend CNN by blaming the second wife story on ABC. Gingrich responded by suggesting that defending hearsay by pointing at another network requires a special variety of journalistic cowardice. Amen, brother!

CNN and most of the other networks have never gotten over Newt Gingrich's efforts to convict Bill Clinton; a serial cheat, convicted perjurer, and impeached president. Clinton escaped conviction because US Senators have the ethical compasses of alley cats.

And the most scurrilous charge against Newt Gingrich is hypocrisy. Somehow, Newt's behavior in two failed marriages is supposed to be the moral equivalent of Bill Clinton's behavior. Here's how they are different.

Gingrich wasn't president. Gingrich didn't have a long history of using state and federal office to exploit female staff young enough to be his daughters. Unlike Clinton, he was never accused of being a chicken hawk, exploiting a young, naïve camp follower either. Gingrich doesn't claim that fellatio isn't sex.  Gingrich didn't lie to the nation or a grand jury. Newt hasn't been disbarred. And none of the former Speaker's wives, unlike Hilary, have played the bimbo by faking a marriage in the name of "political viability." In short, as Mark Twain might have said, the difference between Clinton and Gingrich is "like the difference between lightning and lightning bugs."

Newt Gingrich's marriages have little or nothing to do with his abilities, or lack of them, to serve in high office. He was Speaker of the House for Charlie's sake. And surely there is enough temperament and policy junk in Newt's trunk to argue about. Nonetheless, given the priorities of the American press corps, we shouldn't dismiss the entertainment potential of an Obama/Gingrich title fight. It couldn't possibly get any better than that. Put your money on the pit bull.

"I hope we never live to see the day when a thing is as bad as some of out newspapers      make it." - Will Rogers

G. Murphy Donovan writes frequently about national security and politics.