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Tilting at Windmills

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December 28, 2009

THE MOST POPULAR 'MTP' GUEST OF THE YEAR.... In the previous post, I mentioned what disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said on "Meet the Press" yesterday. I neglected to ask a relevant question: why on earth was Newt Gingrich on "Meet the Press" yesterday?

Yesterday was Gingrich's fifth appearance on "MTP" just this year. In fact, Newt Gingrich, despite not having held any position in government for over a decade, was the single most frequent guest on "Meet the Press" in 2009 of any political figure in the United States. Literally.

From March to December, Gingrich appeared on "MTP," on average, every other month. No one else in American politics was on the show this often.

I'm reminded of something Eric Boehlert wrote recently:

[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.

Eric wrote that seven months ago. It's still true.

Keep in mind, "Meet the Press" didn't have the actual Speaker of the House on at all this year. It also featured zero appearances from all of the other living former House Speakers (Hastert, Wright, Foley) combined.

There's just no reasonable explanation for this. Gingrich was forced from office in disgrace -- by his own caucus -- 11 years ago. What's more, he's kind of a nut -- we're talking about a former office holder who speculated, just last week, about hidden messages from God in snowstorms.

And yet, no other political figure was on "Meet the Press" more this year than crazy ol' Newt Gingrich. If someone can explain why, I'm all ears.

Steve Benen 2:10 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (50)

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Shouldn't that question be put directly to the host and/or producers of "Meet the Press?"

Posted by: Bat of Moon on December 28, 2009 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Because Newt is thought to be interesting to watch and will increase MTP viewership, which is what television is all about. Sensible people just aren't enough fun to watch.

Posted by: Tom Twaiten on December 28, 2009 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

The system selects for crazy. There is money in it as there is in all kinds of extreme permutations of capital flow. As essential bases wither, disconnected apexes gain. And we all fall down in the end.

Posted by: lou on December 28, 2009 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

A clear, concise explanation of why the Neuter is on MTP so often:

- The Smile Gregory is a Villager.
- The Villagers ages ago defined Newt as being a person of gravitas.
- Newt presents an 'intellectual' side to the rethugnican party.
- We know this because the Villagers tell us so.

Today's question: Is the Corporate Media a wholely owned subsidiary of the rethugnican party? Or are the Corporate Media and the rethugnican party wholely owned subsidiaries of wealthy, corporate interests?

Posted by: SadOldVet on December 28, 2009 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

Becauss MTP is run by assholes?

Posted by: bigrenman on December 28, 2009 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

"Interesting to watch and will increase MTP viewership"? I can't tell if you're kidding, or if you're serious.

MTP has been losing me, ever since they lost Russert. Gregory is just too amateur, sad to say.

But hearing Gingrich every few weeks on MTP has actually made me switch over to FOX for a while, just to see what life is like on Mars. The blatant stoopid is funny, but also very, very sad.

Posted by: Rochester on December 28, 2009 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

Gingrich appears on MTP because the people who put that show on are all Villagers, which means they all passed the IQ test low enough to be able to live in Washington and think what goes on there is
"normal." Newtie Snootfull is one of those they get a snootfull with at their oh-so-superior cock-n-tail parties.

Posted by: TCinLA on December 28, 2009 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

The same reason that the failed presidential candidate who saddled the country with Sarah Palin as a "national political figure" has been on Sunday chat shows, what, fifteen times since last January -- win or lose, the SCLM lurves them Republican losers.

Posted by: karen marie on December 28, 2009 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

He's on so often because he's a republican.

Posted by: bobbyk on December 28, 2009 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

In the biblical sense...

Newt is prolific is he not?
So let's make it multiple choice...

a) The producer...
b) The producer's spouse...
c) The producer's offspring...
d) Some combination of the above.

Posted by: koreyel on December 28, 2009 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Reiterating Bat of Moon, this question should be put to the producers. Steve B - using the secret connection device/manner you have with Talk.Pnts or DailyKos upper-echelon, (grin) , please get this asked!

Pretty please?

Posted by: sduffys on December 28, 2009 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

It's simple nostalgia.

The national press never had a twentieth as much fun as it had when it was all about Monica, 24/7. Newt reminds them of that golden age of innocent good cheer. He's comfort food.

Posted by: nicteis on December 28, 2009 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK


you are a fool and a terrible bore.

joe a

Posted by: joe a on December 28, 2009 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

A reasonable, nonpartisan answer to the question "Why is Newt on MTP so much?" is that he is willing to appear, and when he's on the program he actually says things. That's easy for Newt to do because he has no actual job or responsibilities. Nancy Pelosi can't do that, because she has an actual job and can't just shoot her mouth off -- she would have to prepare for a MTP appearance. Should Democrats be more attentive to making spokespersons available for Sunday chat shows? Maybe, or maybe it's a waste of time. But it's useless to just complain.

Posted by: alkali on December 28, 2009 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Um, joe a --

Steve may be a bore to you, and that's fine. But there's no stretch of the imagination that could label Benen as a "fool". That's just ignorant.

You need to expand your vocabulary if you want to be understood.

Posted by: Rochester on December 28, 2009 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

Knowingly, I break the not-so-un-written rule of double posting; harkening back to the Days of Swan, I engage alkali.

Alkali, I, as well, am willing to appear. Also, like Mr. Gingrich, I'm sure that I have things to say. On point, with merit...that is the question. Why would I (he) get asked to appear.

Posted by: sduffys on December 28, 2009 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Because Newt actually not only conspired to commit treason against the United States, but (1) accomplished it and (2) the people who discovered and presented evidence of his treason were arrested.

Posted by: Ken Houghton on December 28, 2009 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

"What's more, he's kind of a nut .."

ding ding ding.. we have a winner....

MTP and the talky heads love the crazy. the more they crazy-bash the dems and the commie far-far left the better to promote the company line..

Its not exactly for ratings, its to feed raw meat to their base.

Posted by: Kevin on December 28, 2009 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Not really off topic:

Newt is a Catholic now. Under Canon law, I believe he's eligible to become Pope. Newt's marriage temporarily gets in the way of that -- but how long is he going to stay married, anyway? But here's the good thing: Newt's already infallible.

Posted by: Leesburg on December 28, 2009 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Newt's like one of the celebrities on the old "Match Game" TV show. They were celebrities because they were celebrities. For what? No one on earth could possible tell you. They just were.
If we had a Washington DC version of the old "Hollywood Squares" game show, Newt would be the Charlie Weaver character - without the humor, of course. Larry Craig could play either the Paul Lynde or Charles Nelson Reilly part - again, without the humor...

Posted by: c u n d gulag on December 28, 2009 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Newt is just carrying water for John McCain who can't physically appear on all these shows week after week.

Posted by: leo on December 28, 2009 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Newt says what they want him to say and that's why he will continue to be given honored guest status. When you want someone to further your ideology you bring them on the show and give the appearance that they're somehow credible. Basically, the media is counting on people to have forgotten Newt's disgraceful fall from power.

Dancing Dave and the folks at MTP see themselves as kingmakers and they would like nothing more than to make Newt king.

Posted by: enslaved on December 28, 2009 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Why would I (he) get asked to appear.

For the obvious reason because he (Newt) has experience -- and potential for future involvement in politics -- that you (and I) do not have. Likewise Tom Daschle, who is also an occasional guest on the Sunday talking head shows even though he doesn't currently hold elected office.

I wish Newt were on MTP less but they have to fill the seat with someone, and if the Democrats don't put someone forward with some notable person with the talent for live television and some time to prepare for the appearance, Newt will fill that seat. (As noted above, Newt does not have to prepare much -- he has no job and he can wing it. An actual elected official has to prepare to talk in the chat-show format.)

I am reminded of the situation in the run-up to the Iraq War in which Janeane Garofalo was on TV an inordinate number of times as the voice of the opposition. As she herself acknowledged, she was usually not the best person for that role, but she has a talent for live performance and she was willing to mix it up on TV. TV producers are not going to give camera time to mousy little bureaucrats who respond to everything with the equivalent of "no comment."

Posted by: alkali on December 28, 2009 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

I think there's a lot to the "it's all about entertainment" aka "the system selects for crazy" theory.

But I also think that this, and other blatant favoritism toward the Republicans, is due in part to the "bitch-slap" theory that was advanced long ago here and elsewhere.

The Republicans and much of the media -- the talking heads in particular, but also a lot of the print commentariat -- have the equivalent of an abusive relationship. The Republicans treat them like s**t, and the media (1) come back for more, and (2) staunchly declare that everything is normal and whose-business-is-it-anyway. And the Republicans institutionalized it for so many years that there's no undoing it.

The sooner the abuse victims in the media -- the Matthewses and the Broders and the rest of 'em -- are quietly shunted off to rest homes, the better. It ain't gonna be no different 'til then.

Posted by: bleh on December 28, 2009 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

Like most Republicans, Newt has an agenda. Most elected Democrats don't. At least not an agenda that they would feel comfortable discussing in front of the American public every weekend. And not an agenda that they can imagine being furthered by an appearance on MTP.

Occasionally Democrats will want to sell some policy and will see a benefit to rolling out the big guns for appearances on the talking-head circuit. But they clearly don't have any interest in actively marketing the Democratic brand week in and week out. Pelosi isn't on MTP by choice.

And what you definitely won't see is a former Democratic politician talking time out from lobbying (excuse me, Tom Daschle, "consulting") to bother with ideological food fights.

Posted by: square1 on December 28, 2009 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Newt is more intellectually agile, politically savvy and better informed on policy matters, both here and abroad, than the entire Democrat Party leadership in Washington, including Oblabbermouth, put together times a hundred.

I will even throw in Steve Benen, Mathew Yglesias, and Andrew Sullivan for good measure...

joe a

Posted by: joe a on December 28, 2009 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

Newt is more intellectually agile, politically savvy and better informed on policy matters, both here and abroad, than the entire Democrat Party leadership in Washington, including Oblabbermouth, put together times a hundred.

How the fuck is "must have more tax cuts" "intellectually agile"? Especially in light of the evidence that the Reagan and Clinton tax increases were the stimulus for the mid-80s and mid-90s booms respectively?

And the use of the word "Democrat" where "Democratic" is warranted is the mark of a dumb as a rock asshole who is best ignored.

Posted by: calipygian on December 28, 2009 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

oh but please don't...

joe a

Posted by: joe a on December 28, 2009 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

Folks, ya gotta remember that TeeVee is a bidnez, just like WalMart.

Walmart makes money by selling stuff they don't need to lots of people, for cheap. They do this by attracting lots of customers to lots of stores with lots of stuff, and free parking.

TeeVee does it by attracting lots of viewers with programming like Fear Factor, Judge Judy, and Meet the Press. And, while the viewers are in "the store', the TeeVee shows them commercials for stuff they don't need.

It's just (show) bidnez, folks. . .

Posted by: DAY on December 28, 2009 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

It's bad enough that MTP invited The Newt to opine at all. More galling is how they identified him on-screen: "R-Georgia" Is that how they identify other guests not currently serving in elected office? I would like to think it's just an oversight. But I suspect not.

Posted by: Richard Salkin on December 28, 2009 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

``Please don't'' what? did you forget the rest of your witless rejoinder? Gingrich is an overstuffed, overrated leech who's been suckling at the public and ``nonprofit'' troughs his entire life. He is a crushing, crashing bore, a preening, narcissistic twit whose only attraction is that he can occasionally -- as in, seldom -- get off a one-liner.

Posted by: secularhuman on December 28, 2009 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

Clearly, the selection of guests for the talk shows is weighted to the radical right. Often, even the Democrats they pick are centrists, or else such caricatures as to make Sarah Palin worth considering--e.g., Donna Brazile. Moreover, as we here know, Republicans often lie, or at least distort and exaggerate. Do the hosts every question or challenge these intentional falsehoods? Not that I have seen. Gregory and Stephanopoulos are the worst. The media has returned to its 19th century roots: dishonest and corrupt

Posted by: Keith on December 28, 2009 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

They don't select guests for those shows: they cast them.

It's like when you were a kid and someone named "Kitty Carlisle" was on What's My Line or whatever it was, and you'd see her every week and eventually start wondering, who is this person? What has she done aside from this show, I mean how do you get to be a TV celebrity, do you train for it, audition, what?

Then you'd learn, if you looked into it, that she did used to be someone, a singer, an actress, but now was pretty much on this game show as a career.

That's how it works. I don't mean to disparage Kitty Carlisle, by the way, there are probably better examples of people on TV for sheer celebrity sake who really have done nothing else, whereas she actually was an actress and singer, but you get the point.

They cast Newt as a "conservative", even though he's actually an utterly disgraced extreme right winger, but hey, that's what conservative means these days, no matter how they protest that it doesn't.

Casting is what matters now. It's their show, the whole country, we're just the audience.

Posted by: Bill E Pilgrim on December 28, 2009 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

Gingrich on MTP yesterday:

Look at the bubbles. You had, you had the I.T. bubble right at the end of the last decade, then you had the housing bubble in '07, then you had the Wall Street bubble. The fourth bubble's going to be government. We have far more government than we're going to afford if we're going to compete in the world market.

Earth to Newt.

Putting aside his rewriting of history, of the 20 industrialized nations on the planet, America as the 19th or 20th smallest federal government, as a percentage, of them all.

The "bubble" is in his head.

Posted by: Joe Friday on December 28, 2009 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK
and if the Democrats don't put someone forward ...

You're arguing facts not in evidence.

As far as "joe a" goes, he's pretty clearly proven himself as "joe a clueless moron who thinks rehashing failed GOP policies over and over again will magically make those failed policies work and makes those who rehash those policies intellectuals."

In other words, example #78,901 of why the GOP is less popular than a raging case of the clap.

Posted by: Mark D on December 28, 2009 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

MTP is not news, its entertainment. gingrich is very entertaining to some, and apparently to the kind of audience MTP is interested in. So what is confusing or startling about all his appearances?

Stop treating MTP like a serious information outlet and all confusion will disappear.

Posted by: pluege on December 28, 2009 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

FWIW, from Wikipedia...

Most newts can be safely handled, provided that the toxins they produce are not ingested or allowed to come in contact with mucous membranes or breaks in the skin. After handling, proper hand-washing techniques should be followed due to the risk from the toxins they produce and bacteria they carry, such as salmonella.

Posted by: beep52 on December 28, 2009 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK

From a historical perspective Newt seems a little extreme but in the current climate he is one of the few high level Republicans who doesn't appear either batshit crazy or a tedious bore. Who else are they going to get to articulate the Republican view when there are so few articulate Republicans? Besides MTP is making a serious attempt to go green so they're recycling the same shit just about every show.

Posted by: Peter G on December 28, 2009 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

I don't watch Meet The Press. Almost no one under 55 does. So, just like my grandmother always watched Lawrence Welk re-runs, my parents like to watch re-runs from the 70's, 80's and 90's. The Temptations haven't had a hit in decades, may not have any original members left, but they still sing on PBS fundraisers, which my parents watch.

Understand that Newt isn't on because he is consequential: he is on MTP because the MTP demographic thinks he is consequential, in much the same way that they think that Richie and Potsie are typical American teenagers.

Posted by: Yashko on December 28, 2009 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

I think the fellow thought Benen a boring fool due to not understanding Steve's excessive reliance on rhetorical questions as a way to starting discussion. I "get" RQs, but they do become tiresome and make their indulgers seem naive. Better IMHO to come out and say what you think, then people can argue this way or that anyway.

Posted by: neil b... on December 28, 2009 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

Newt is on because he is an easy get and because he represented the Republican party during its glory period in Congress during the 90's. I wouldn't dismiss him though, I predict some enterprising journalist/historian will write a book about the GOP leadership trio of Gingrich, Armey and Delay and like Palin sell many, many books.

Posted by: aline on December 28, 2009 at 8:22 PM | PERMALINK

You might as well ask why celebutards like Kim Kardashian are always on the cover of the checkout aisle mags. They are identifiable commodities. Newt is a recognizable face of "Republican opposition", a gig he has worked tirelessly to mantain, spouting off one half assed opinion after another while managing not to sound quite as retarded as Sarah Palin.

The guy is not all that popular with conservatives and viewed with suspicion by the teabaggers, so I'm sure his constant appearances on MTP are as annoying to them as they are to the rest of us. The saddest part of the whole thing is that he actually is an "intellectual heavyweight " by current Republican standards.

Posted by: Rip on December 29, 2009 at 1:00 AM | PERMALINK

he has pix of broadcast execs with dogs and donkeys?

Posted by: albertchampion on December 29, 2009 at 2:54 AM | PERMALINK

I think MSM is helping Gingrich position himself for a presidential run. and they see him as the nearest that conservatives have these days to intelligentsia, and now that Buckley is dead Gingrich is it.

Posted by: Marty on December 29, 2009 at 5:18 AM | PERMALINK

Republican Karl Rove's dance partner David Gregory is doing the same thing Republican Dick Cheney's mouthpiece Tim Russert is doing: Pushing Republican talking points.

And since Republican Newt Gingrich, despite being thoroughly dishonorable, dishonest, and discredited, pushes Republican talking points better than most of Republicans, David Gregory has him on every couple of months like clockwork.

Posted by: Still Me on December 29, 2009 at 6:40 AM | PERMALINK

All these shows feel they must strive for "balance" even though only 20% identify themselves as Republicans, and they are having to deal with a Republican bench that is very thin.

Posted by: bob h on December 29, 2009 at 7:12 AM | PERMALINK

Why is Newt on so often?

I guess McCain can't always available.

Posted by: Rich M on December 29, 2009 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, "Wossup wit' dat?" as certain Dazzling Urbanites are wont to inquire. Methinks the pattern seems vaguely familiar. Smelleth meself the burning media diapers of 1992-94 being lofted over the besieged nation-state's walls? Know they not that the burghers within have no roofs left to burn? That they have fed their long-since-slaughtered cattle with the thatch?

Posit I that the media hath taken us -- yet again -- for freaking idiots, and worse still, idiots with time to watch tee-vee on Sundays.
-- AB

Posted by: Adirondack Bruce on December 31, 2009 at 7:01 AM | PERMALINK

And the press wonders why it is not relevant anymore. Do they look at their list of guests and wonder "are we providing the best possible list of guests to hightlight the important issues of the day?" NO. They go for controversy and ratings; and now that Democrats hold the legislative and executive branches, it's more controversial to have on someone like Gingrich.

By the way, Gingriches hypocrisy with the copenhagen comment/tweet is astounding for a man who wrote a book on adressing climate change from a conservative perspective a year ago. The man is a true politician, just reading the landscape and scoring points with the intellectually berift republican party.

Posted by: Bill R on December 31, 2009 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK


Posted by: qvaziu on October 26, 2010 at 6:46 AM | PERMALINK



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