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Saturday, January 21, 2012
Damage Control: MRC Rushes to Gingrich's Defense Again
Topic: Media Research Center

The last time Newt Gingrich was in trouble, the Media Research Center's Brent Bozell rushed to his defense (in a factually deficient fashion) and even played the Buckley card by declaring that his uncle, conservative icon William F. Buckley, would never have treated Gingrich so shabbily for his ethical faux pas as the editors of the Buckley-founded National Review are treating him.

Now, another piece of Gingrich's past has come back to haunt him -- in the form of an unflattering ABC interview with Gingrich's second ex-wife, Marianne -- and Bozell and the MRC are rushing to play defense yet again.

Bozell issued a statement denouncing the ABC interview as an "October Surprise of the worst sort":

It is not necessarily inappropriate for a news outlet to interview a candidate’s former wife.  However, three conditions must be met: 1) is it newsworthy?; 2) is it fair and respectful to the families involved?; 3) is the timing appropriate?

On the timing issue alone it is clearly inappropriate for ABC to run this interview on the eve of the South Carolina primary.  This smacks of an October Surprise of the worst sort, for which so many in the left wing press have become so infamous.  There is no reason it couldn’t run next week.

If it doesn’t meet the conditions of newsworthiness or fairness and respect it should be killed altogether. 

Of course, Gingrich's shabby treatment of his exes is hardly a "surprise," October or otherwise; Marianne previously told her story to Esquire in August 2010. And Bozell is clearly being disingenous here -- delaying damaging information about a candidate until after an election is probably not the position Bozell took when the candidate was, say, Bill Clinton.

Bozell's MRC employees were quick to pile on. MRC research director Rich Noyes tweeted, "If a rival candidate did to Gingrich what ABC News is doing to him, the media would slap it down as a dirty trick." NewsBusters managing editor Ken Shepherd played the Clinton Equivocation card in a tweet accusing Bill and Hillary Clinton of having an "quasi-open" marriage:

When CNN's John King began the Jan. 19 Republican presidential debate by asking Gingrich about Marianne's allegations, NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard declared King to have acted "despicably," and cheered at how "The former Speaker was having none of this."

A Jan. 20 NewsBusters post by the MRC's Scott Whitlock goes into shoot-the-messenger mode by attacking ABC's Brian Ross, who conducted the interview with Gingrich. Ross is "smarmy," Whitlock asserts, declaring his interview to be "bereft of new information" because Ross interviewed Marianne for two hours but "ABC only used two and a half minutes of actual footage from that interview." Whitlock also played the equivocation card, complaining that "no Democratic examples of "two-timing politicians" were mentioned by the journalist."

Even the MRC's "news" division got in on the act, with a Jan. 20 article touting how Gingrich's misdirection in "denounc[ing] a 'vicious' news media that is 'protecting Barack Obama by attacking Republicans.'"

Bozell issued an even more bizarre attack on Marianne Gingrich by suggesting that she was lying by claiming in a radio interview that the interview has "that awful, awful taint of Rathergate to it." Bozell then clarified by saying that he was referring to how the interview was timed "to do the most amount of damage it possibly could to Newt Gingrich's career," and that Marianne may be "entirely honest" in her claim, though she is "lashing out at her ex-husband." Bozell then declares, "I think it was a mess of a story, I think it hurts the media."

Funny, we don't recall the MRC trying to discredit, say, Paula Jones as bitter and vengeful the way it's trying to discredit Marianne Gingrich.

As Gingrich's behavior grows increasingly slimy, you'd think that Bozell and the MRC would get tired of having to come up with ways to defend it, excuse it, and/or pretend it doesn't matter. Apparently not.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:34 AM EST

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