Hey Newt Gingrich, It’s Not the Media

It was the cranky outburst heard round the United States. CNN’s Republican debate moderator John King gave Newt Gingrich the chance to respond to an ABC interview with his ex-wife, and the candidate blew up. His rant against the media for daring air his dirty laundry just a few days before the South Carolina primary vote earned its place atop viral videos for at least a day.

And it left journalists across the country heaving a big sigh and rolling our eyes.

The hubris, Newt, the hubris! We media-types have better things to do than pick particular politicians to smear. We’re too busy trying to ferret out the next hot story before our competition gets to it.

This is the lesson politicians need to learn: if it is there, it will be found . . . eventually. And reporters, be they small town media at places like the Democrat or “big league” journos at the New York Times or ABC News, don’t look at timing from a politico’s perspective. Instead we look at timing from ours. Is putting this story out there now going to benefit the reader, we ask? Is it going to ensure they know what they have to know when they need to know it?

That’s our job. If we find out that a presidential candidate’s ex-wife is willing to go forward with an interview that contains some rather explosive information, we have to question her angle. But once we affirm the information is the truth, the next step isn’t to consider what this will do to a politician’s career. To do so would be to allow bias to sneak into a job where bias is outlawed. Instead, we have to figure out how to get this true information out there as soon as possible. Because that’s our job.
Our job isn’t to slam politicians. It’s to share the information that arms voters when they go to the polls so they can make informed decisions.

Is it hard? Of course. We are not automatons. We have feelings, and we have preferences.

But the job of a journalist isn’t impossible for folks in other jobs to imagine. Take a grocery store clerk faced with a poor mom who is counting out her last pennies to buy her children dinner. Isn’t it her job to say no, I’m sorry, if you can’t pay, I can’t allow you to walk off with that box of Cheerios? And yet, she’s not without feeling. She’s human. But that’s her job.

When a slam against the media goes public, it gets a lot of nods all around. And yet, it’s a job like any other. And we’re doing it as much for the good of the world as for the good of our pocketbooks (which, in turn, goes into the grocery store clerk’s or the shoe store employee’s).

The media isn’t the bad guy. It’s the people who make the mistakes that we uncover that you should be holding accountable.

Image via Gage Skidmore/Flickr


  1. Jeanne, this SO needed to be said. Gingrich's behavior is typical narcissism — when you're wrong, don't admit it, deflect the blame to someone else. Good for you for pointing out the truth of the matter. It was not the journalist who exposed Gingrich as a jerk — Gingrich is and has been a jerk, and it just comes out. His attack just proves that he hasn't changed.

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