Political Animal


May 17, 2011 3:55 PM Gingrich blames ‘gotcha’ questions

By Steve Benen

I haven’t even tried to keep up with all of the revelations that have made today such a fiasco for disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Where would one start? The six-figure debt to Tiffany’s? The humiliating run-in with an angry Iowa Republican? The explanation of “evolving” beliefs? The fury from the Republican base?

At the heart of Gingrich’s problems are his comments over the weekend condemning the House Republican budget plan, which, among other things, ends Medicare. This has generated an intense backlash from right, which Gingrich sought to quell today with a conference call. His explanation is one of the most amusing responses I’ve seen in a long while.

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, speaking on a Tuesday conference call held to respond to his controversial comments about Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget, said that he didn’t go into his interview with NBC’s David Gregory “hostile enough” and should have pushed back more forcefully against the “gotcha” questions the host asked. […]

Gingrich said he should have been better prepared for the “adversarial nature” of “Meet the Press.”

“I didn’t go in there quite hostile enough, because it didn’t occur to me going in that you’d have a series of setups,” Gingrich said. “This wasn’t me randomly saying things. These were very deliberate efforts to pick fights.”

Well, as it turns out, NBC News posts the transcripts of every episode of “Meet the Press,” so let’s go ahead and look at the “gotcha” questions, which Gingrich now perceives as “a series of setups” intended to “pick fights.”

* Health care mandate: The issue was in the news a lot last week, in large part because of Mitt Romney. Gingrich used to support a mandate, so David Gregory asked, “You agree with Mitt Romney on this point?” and Gingrich proceeded to defend the policy.

* Medicare: The issue has been at the center of the public discourse for several weeks, and Gregory asked, “The Medicare trust fund, in stories that have come out over the weekend, is now going to be depleted by 2024, five years earlier than predicted. Do you think that Republicans ought to buck the public opposition and really move forward to completely change Medicare, turn it into a voucher program where you give seniors some premium support so that they can go out and buy private insurance?” Gingrich responded that he rejects “right-wing social engineering.”

Now, I don’t mean to sound picky, but Gingrich has been on “Meet the Press” 35 times. In 2009, the first year of the Obama presidency, literally no one was on “Meet the Press” as often as Gingrich (five appearances in less than 12 months). In what universe could he perceive David Gregory’s straightforward inquiries about major topics “gotcha” questions and “a series of setups” intended to “pick fights”?

It’s not the host’s fault the disgraced former Speaker said what he said, and even the most gullible right-wing activist should know not to take this excuse seriously.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • slappy magoo on May 17, 2011 4:10 PM:

    In Republicanlan, claims don't have to be proven, they just have to be made, and repeated. By the end of the week, David Gregory will be branded "gotcha questionnaire extraordinaire" and he'll literally have to apologize before each and every question he ever asks a Republican ever again. However, he will be allowed, nay, expected, to start any question to any Democrat with "hey, answer me this, faggot." You know, to keep things fair and balanced, because you know how the liberal media is so easy on Democrats all the time.

    My apologies for dropping "the other 'F' bomb." Sometimes satire calls for extreme measures to make your point. As a gesture of penance I'm going to plant a tree that will be designated the tree Andy Dick hides under to sleep it off.

  • Rochester on May 17, 2011 4:12 PM:

    Not sure this guy will last as long as Trump.

  • SYSPROG on May 17, 2011 4:15 PM:

    WOW...Newt is a crybaby, a liar and a victim? I'm SHOCKED, I tell you, SHOCKED!

  • Squeaky McCrinkle on May 17, 2011 4:21 PM:

    . . . the "adversarial nature" of "Meet the Press".

    Sorry if this is garbled, but it's hard to type when you're doubled up laughing.

    That is fucking hilarious. You've made my day.

  • John R AKA Mr. Serf Man on May 17, 2011 4:27 PM:

    What a blot on western civilization. Can't take the tough questions of meet the village? Newt , its not our fault if you didn't read the script. I think even turd Limbaugh went after him.
    What a looser .
    Hey Newt I'll bet you got wedgies and beat up by the football team in school.
    You have no chance go the fuck home before you embarrass yourself further.

  • G.Kerby on May 17, 2011 4:29 PM:

    What, did they ask him which newspaper he reads?

  • Nancy Sutherland on May 17, 2011 4:32 PM:

    Newt's appearance on Meet The Press "was not intended as a factual statement."

  • ericfree on May 17, 2011 4:33 PM:

    Looks like the town where Gingrich was accosted by the hostile Ryan-lover was Mason City, at least that was supposed to be his first stop in Iowa. Mason City is the real-life model for River City, site of "The Music Man." Looks like some of the residents are still marching to the music of the next con man to happen along.

    BTW, it's really a great town, home to the Frank Lloyd Wright Bank and Hotel and some of the earliest Modern residential architecture in America, right next to the bridge where the "Music Man" lovers sang their hearts out. Won't see that in the movie, though.

    May take some time to get this through. The "captcha" is in no known language.

  • kevo on May 17, 2011 4:37 PM:

    Unabashed vanity is a pox on the House of Gingrich! If poor ol'Newtie got beat up by David Gregory, (an insipid interviewer in his own right), how can he expect to get my respect, let alone my vote?

    Gingrich as presidential candidate - a big early 21st century fail! -Kevo

  • g on May 17, 2011 4:37 PM:

    So poor little naive Gingrich. So it's "Gotcha" to quote his own words to him and ask him to expand on what he meant, and then let him babble on about it?

    The man likes the sound of his own voice too much, every question is a "gotcha."

  • jcricket on May 17, 2011 4:42 PM:

    What a lame-ass wimp. The Daily News Crybaby pic comes to mind. Perfect capture. Still true.

  • ericfree on May 17, 2011 4:46 PM:

    Darn, HuffPost says it was Dubuque. Well, nice a town as it is, there are sure people of Mason City capable of it.

  • zeitgeist on May 17, 2011 4:46 PM:

    seriously, the only shot any of these maroons has at the nomination is the fact that someone has to win.

    i think.

    on the other hand, it is possible they go to convention without a winner and the delegates just look at the line-up and say, "aw, screw it."

  • mellowjohn on May 17, 2011 5:04 PM:

    as tina fey channeling screechy palin said on snl a couple of weeks ago: "i'm hopin' the lamestream media won't twist my words by printin' them verbatim."

    p.s. captcha still sucks.

  • Kathryn on May 17, 2011 5:12 PM:

    Great comments everybody. If memory serves me, Newt is supposed to be the GOP intellectual and maybe he is. Intellectual and Republican do not co-exist either in this sentence or in life.

    It is deeply satisfying to see that Georgia cracker/racist exposed so easily for the fraud and phoney he is and always has been.

  • bdop4 on May 17, 2011 5:26 PM:

    Epic post, Slappy!

    God, these clowns are SOFT. They're so used to having everything they utter accepted as the gospel truth. I guess Newt was surprised Gregory didn't drop to his knees and blow him during the break.

    TBH, I was kind of surprised myself. But Slappy's right: Gregory will be required to flog himself before every show as penance for his transgression.

  • jsjiowa on May 17, 2011 5:37 PM:

    I don't think David Gregory even knows how to ask a "gotcha" question!

  • Modern Moon on May 17, 2011 5:39 PM:

    These guys always claim it was a "gotcha" question whenever their answer is ignorant, clueless or gets them in trouble with their base. They called it a gotcha question when Katy Couric asked Sarah Palin what magazines and newspapers she read...and she couldn't think of a single one.

  • c u n d gulag on May 17, 2011 6:04 PM:

    Sweet Jesus,

    Newt, if you think Gregory's tough, what happens when you run into a 9 year-old Iranian Cub Scout with a rubber Swiss Army Knife?

    Newt, WTF! ? ! ? ! ?

  • Squeaky McCrinkle on May 17, 2011 6:08 PM:

    I guess Newt was surprised Gregory didn't drop to his knees and blow him during the break.

    Are you sure he didn't?

  • Skip on May 17, 2011 6:25 PM:

    This is the ideal man to make the biggest belly flop in the cess pool of Repubican presidental candidates. My distaste of Gingrich is in equal measure to the egotistical ignorance of the man.

    Signed, Supra Teryth

  • John Henry on May 17, 2011 6:32 PM:

    Sayonara asshole! [begin Gingrich-style hyperbole] This is the biggest disaster since the Hindenburgh [end Gingrich-style hyperbole]

  • John on May 17, 2011 7:20 PM:

    The "adversarial" nature of Meet The Press? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

    Hell, Romper Room in its heyday was more adversarial than Meet The Press! The only way David Gregory could be more accommodating is if he offered to personally fellate every Republican that appeared on the show.

    Man I hope Gingrich stays in the race; the comedy just writes itself. I bet the staff of The Onion is beside itself.

  • John on May 17, 2011 7:23 PM:

    Oops; should have read all the comments. Looks like "bdop4" above had the same thought.

  • Garry on May 17, 2011 7:43 PM:

    I watched the interview and I was disgusted with David Gregory as usual he played footsie with another Republican. He doesn't know how to be a journalist and it seemed as if the couple of hard questions Newt was prepared for. He made no mistake he was playing I wanna be a CENTRIST.

  • burro on May 17, 2011 7:48 PM:

    Newt could give Fred Thompson a call. And he might listen very carefully to what Fred has to say about a situation like this. And Newt might even heed Fred's advice. Then again he might not. In which case he'll be a pasty faced pinata for the foreseeable future.

  • exlibra on May 17, 2011 8:16 PM:

    If Newtie-baby thinks the questions from Gregory were "Gotcha", I wonder how he'd manage Benen's Captcha.

    Which offers this Delphic response: "uggrop space". Translated: "Ugh. Newt is too ugly even for groping; give us some space"

  • Squeaky McCrinkle on May 17, 2011 8:23 PM:

    If you remember the way David Gregory used to go after Scott McLellan, you can see him for what he really is. A corporate, kiss-up-kick-down grovelling cocksucker, a sell-out disgrace to his profession and a prize example of exactly what's wrong with the American media.

  • Squeaky McCrinkle on May 17, 2011 8:27 PM:


    But a more than adequate replacement for that odious phoney Tim Russert.