Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 22, 2009

EVERY DAY IS GINGRICH DAY.... Chris Hayes had a tweet on Wednesday morning that really resonated with me: "Every morning I wake up, anxious to see what Newt Gingrich has to say about the issues of the day."

Chris was, of course, being sarcastic. The problem, though, is that major news outlets seem to genuinely believe Americans really do wake up, anxious to see what the disgraced former House Speaker has to say about current events.

This morning, for example, the Washington Post offers readers an 800-word op-ed from Gingrich about public attitudes on the size of government. Wouldn't you know it, Gingrich thinks there's a mass movement of people out there who think exactly the same way he does.

In the great tradition of political movements rising against arrogant, corrupt elites, there will soon be a party of people rooting out the party of government. This party may be Republican; it may be Democratic; in some states it may be a third party. The politicians have been warned.

Anxious to hear more? You're in luck -- Newt Gingrich will be the featured guest on "Meet the Press" this weekend.

He was lying on Fox News yesterday. He was lying on "Good Morning America" on Wednesday. More of the same on "The Daily Show" on Tuesday. Looking over CNN's political blog, which tends to keep up pretty well with the big political stories of a given day, Gingrich's various attacks have generated "news" every other day for a week.

As Atrios asked the other day: "[Y]ou know, disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has precisely zero power but his every pronouncement is treated as Incredibly Important News. Any journalists want to explain why?"

I try to pay at least some attention to what Gingrich is popping off on, in part because many GOP leaders are inclined to follow his lead, no matter how little sense he makes.

But the constant media coverage has been embarrassing for a while, and it seems to be getting worse.

Eric Boehlert's take the other day -- before the WaPo op-ed and "Meet the Press" announcement -- was spot-on: ["A]s often happens when I read breaking, this-is-what-Newt-said dispatches, I couldn't help thinking, 'Who cares what Newt Gingrich thinks?' And I don't mean that in the partisan sense. I mean it in the journalistic sense: How do Gingrich's daily pronouncements about the fundamental dishonesty of Democrats (Newt's favorite phrase) translate into news? Why does the press, 10 years after Gingrich was forced out of office, still treat his every partisan utterance as a newsworthy occurrence? In other words, why does the press still treat him like he's speaker of the House? It's unprecedented."

I'm still waiting to see the media frenzy surrounding the latest pronouncements from Jim Wright and Tom Foley. I have a hunch I'm going to be waiting for a long time.

Steve Benen 8:35 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (29)

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Like a hemerrhoid, Newt is good for the occasional flare-up.

Posted by: johnnymags on May 22, 2009 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

Your comment about the media "believing that the public really cares about Newt's thoughts" reminds me of Politico's John Harris saying that Cheney's speech had been "very important" and equalled that of our President. Funny thing about the public craving for Cheney's thoughts, as well, was a scene from a visit to a large hospital lab waiting room in Portland, yesterday. The room was full - Many young mothers with children - A blend of older folks of various races and genders. At the end of the room, a large TV had CNN's viewing of Cheney's speech. The sound was low, but, one could hear his comments throughout half the room. I sat there for almost a half an hour. Noticed only one person attempting to listen and watch. A fellow in his mid thirties. Yeah, the public just "craves" this "very important" news.

Posted by: berttheclock on May 22, 2009 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

Dennis Hastert would be on Meet the Press more often, but he's too busy running the shadow government.

Posted by: Grumpy on May 22, 2009 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

"...disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has precisely zero power but his every pronouncement is treated as Incredibly Important News. Any journalists want to explain why?"

Because, they can't get Tom Delay.

Posted by: Winknandanod on May 22, 2009 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

I would bang my head against a brick wall, but I've done it so much the past 8+ years, I'm concerned I might do lasting damage.

Posted by: Breezeblock on May 22, 2009 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

This is NOT sarcastic: Congratulations on using the L word, Steve. Admit it; didn't it feel good to call a liar a liar?

Posted by: shortstop on May 22, 2009 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

I would like to know the identity of Newt's booking agent. That is the person in Newt's posse with real talent.

Posted by: Ron Byers on May 22, 2009 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK


Please contain your snark, don't you know that Gingrich is a man of ideas? He even says so! I heard David Gregory say so! Chuck Todd says so! He is a factory for generating new ideas about . . . uh . . . stuff!!! Even his first name contains the word "new." You just wish that the Democ-rats could generate the amount of sophisticated new(t) ideas like Gingrich. Your envy is palpable.

Posted by: Matt on May 22, 2009 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

each morning i wake up overjoyed that the big-media-public relations machine is making sure newt gingrich is the future of the republican party.

thanks, steve! you helped me do it again this morning!

Posted by: neill on May 22, 2009 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

The press has effectively been co-opted to such an extent they are impacting the operations of government. The Gitmo closure vote was a case of Democrats pre-emptively stopping a 24-7 news hounding on terror weakness. America's problems can be laid fairly at the doorstep of the press since the rise of Fox news and the complete corporate message echo chamber. It is killing us. This isn't free speech at all. It is 24-7 political advertising. And it is killing us. Gingrich is the most articulate of group of very dim GOP possible guests. And the media has chosen him to be their relentless conveyor of distortion. This is not an innocent infatuation. It is re-indoctrination--make no mistake.

Posted by: Sparko on May 22, 2009 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

The Villagers, not being very smart, think Newt is insightful and intelligent. Therefore, he should be listened to. That he's a fucking moron, amoral liar, and traitor don't seem to matter much.

Posted by: Mike on May 22, 2009 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

It's very plain that ol Newt is off and running for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. The 'liberal' media is giving him maximum face time and treating him like he's credible. Truth is, the vast majority of Americans see him and Cheney for what they really are--spokesmen for an ideology that appeals to maybe 25 percent of the population. Until we tell the media we've had enough of this shit and we're not gonna take it anymore we'll continue to receive a healthy dose of these losers.

Posted by: sparky on May 22, 2009 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

Somebody wants to build up the Newt Brand. Why, it means money to someone if they are successful. They know that at least 39% of the country can be expected to have misgivings about the Democrats--and what other Republican represents a money making opportunity for them? News is business for them, Newt has volunteered to be capitalized upon. The Post would not give him a byline if they did not think he would sell newspapers. Even thoug, considering the political demographic of MD and NOVA, their strategy seems suicidal, at best.

Posted by: carbon4logic on May 22, 2009 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

I guess there's a combined narrative of "conservative opposition to Obama" and "Republican = conservative". I feel a little sympathy for actual conservatives-- who oppose Obama's policies and are neither liars nor psychopaths. At least we libruls are seeing some light and getting some air.

Posted by: MattF on May 22, 2009 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

Naturally, another major opinion piece in today's Washington Times (sorry Post) featured Charles Krauthammer telling us how Obama is carrying forth Bush's policies.

Posted by: SadOldVet on May 22, 2009 at 9:18 AM | PERMALINK

The media will help Newt et al. in their quest to erode confidence in the Obama administration by continuing to give him a platform to spout their drivel. The supreme irony of his current WP Op-ed the "great tradition" of "political movements rising against corrupt elites"? Really?

The Republicans are counting--yet again--on an indifferent, un-inquisitive populace, too tired, too beaten down, too worried about the next paycheck and/or mortgage, and too uninformed as to who is the cause of all of their ills--too willing to listen to anyone who 'speaks to their problems,' such as Gingrich and friends who, with utter gall, will say "it is the Democrats, Obama, who is the cause of all your problems."

And some people will believe it.

But, Obama has put to good use the bully pulpit, and has a great ability to smack down divisive talking points. I think he will use that pulpit more and more often (if the networks don't cry about missing prime-time slots to do so).

In between those speeches, though, the wired-for-Republican media is all to happy to give Gingrich and friends all of the time and spotlight they want to lie and obfuscate to their heart's content.

Posted by: terraformer on May 22, 2009 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

For the GOP, not one of them have any idea on what they can do to actually fix the problems in this country so they refer back to a guy that had an idea, once. Of course that idea was not how to help the country but how to increase GOP power. That may be the big flaw in listening to him but neither they nor the media get that,
Someone told the media morons that Newt led some kind of "revolution" sometime in the "90's" so they follow him like sheep. Since no one else can string two coherent sentences together Newt and Cheney get the mic. Scary is always better TV...they get out the breaking news banner graphics and everything...oh and cool scary music. A lot easier and cost effective than going after or analysing real news.
You think that any of those "reporters" on CNN, MSNBC or Fox ever had the ability to put two original thoughts together that made any sense. Diane Sawyer is doing a morning show for God's sake. That's why Jon Stewart has a job. The smartest guy in the news is a bloody comedian.

Posted by: Bethie on May 22, 2009 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

We are not asking the right question. The question is who is bankrolling Newt's sideshow and what are their motives? Newt's certainly not financing himself. Who is keeping him?

Posted by: Russ on May 22, 2009 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

"As Atrios asked the other day: "[Y]ou know, disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has precisely zero power but his every pronouncement is treated as Incredibly Important News. Any journalists want to explain why?"

I'm not a journalist, but this really isn't rocket science: Gingrich manufactures controversy and the DC media subsists, indeed thrives, on manufactured controversy. Reacting is so much easier (and cheaper) than reporting.

Posted by: jm on May 22, 2009 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

Newt is entertaining, in a sick sort of way.

TV 'news' is an entertainment medium.


Posted by: al-Fubar on May 22, 2009 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

My Conspiracy Theory

Newt Gingrich is a caricature for the existence and purpose of the Republican party. Hence the clever, but phony, stage name. Let's dissect

Newt --- (adjective) coming or occurring afresh. (adverb) recently or lately.

Ging --- 1. To catch in a trap. 2. Contrivance; artifice; a trap; a snare. 3. in slang phrase gin up "enliven, make more exciting"

rich --- (adjective) having wealth or great possessions.(noun used with a plural verb ) rich persons collectively.

Posted by: about time on May 22, 2009 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

Amazing. They decide to up the ante with a Daisy ad, and don't follow through. Where's the mushroom cloud? I suspect if they did include a nuclear explosion, the web-ad would be treated like the exaggerated joke it is.

Posted by: Andrew on May 22, 2009 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Your (mis)use of 'anxious' vrs eager? makes it hard to understand this post - is it anxiety producing or ...?

Posted by: FuzzyKisser on May 22, 2009 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

You have to really feel sorry for the journalists, being reduced to competing for Newtie's time and attention. But what else are they to do? Members of the Bush Administration and other GOPers are either toxic waste, already on the payroll of Faux News, highly-paid lobbyists, or are charging big bucks to make an appearance. Since it's the kiss of death to book Democrats for these shows and op-ed gigs, who else are they going to get?

Posted by: DrGail on May 22, 2009 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

This post exemplifies the cluelessness of "liberal" bloggers about the corporate-owned media.

Oh gosh gee whiz, why in the world is the corporate-owned media promoting the pronouncements of a bought-and-paid-for mouthpiece for America's ultra-rich corporate oligarchy -- i.e. a mouthpiece for the class warfare agenda of the people who own the corporate media?

Why, my goodness, it's almost as though the handful of giant corporations that own and control virtually all of the mass media in the USA are more interested in propagandizing the American people in furtherance of the corporatocracy's interests and agenda, than in practicing actual journalism and impartially informing and educating the American people about the issues of the day.

But no, that can't be it.

It's such a puzzle.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on May 22, 2009 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

Newt's been on MTP more times (twice) in the last two months than Nancy Pelosi's been on in the last two years. Just ridiculous.

Posted by: skybluewater on May 22, 2009 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

I'd like to recommend the following method of assuring Gingrich's irrelevance: STOP TALKING ABOUT HIM. That goes for the liberal TV pundits and bloggers too. Like any troll, Gingrich appears to thrive on attention. Deprive him of it! I'm ashamed that even I have just spent these few lines talking about him!

Posted by: Elayne Riggs on May 22, 2009 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

They give us every utterance of Newt because mostly, the network anchors and the brass upstairs agree with him and therefore everyone really needs to know What Newt Thinks.

Posted by: zak822 on May 22, 2009 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

I'm guessing the Stonecutters have decided that Newt will be the GOP nominee in 2012, so the networks are lobbying to be on his good side now, so they can get "exclusive interviews" when he's running.

Posted by: TG Chicago on May 22, 2009 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK



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