Newest versions of Newt and network TV offer nothing new

I was unable to watch Thursday’s Republican Presidential debate, but did see the opening question in which CNN’s John King removes the elephant in the room right away. Yes, I’m only speaking metaphorically. No, Chris Christie wasn’t there.

King asked former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich about the news of the day that, sadly, was not truly news and hardly anyone’s business. I’m referring, of course, to Gingrich’s second wife (whom he divorced in 2000) Marianne, who told ABC’s Brian Ross that Newt asked her for an “open marriage.” The segment aired this evening on “Nightline.” I didn’t stay up to watch it. I’ll explain why in a bit.

Gingrich’s response to King’s question (was it even a question?) drew outlandish excitement from the debate crowd — a fervor Gingrich seemed to draw inspiration from — in the way of clapping and supportive screams of “Yea!”

From what I can glean at this point post-debate, Gingrich is also drawing positive support in some instant polls done after the debate. According to FiveThirtyEight.com blogger Nate Silver, who I find to be the most reliable source for poll data analysis, Gingrich is now trending in first place in South Carolina polls. Just days ago, the narrative had Romney looking unbeatable and being annointed the Nearly Nominated. (Actually, I didn’t hear anyone using that term. I just made it up, as I’m a sucker for alliteration.)

Sure, Gingrich seized on an excitable debate moment the question created. Certainly, he had the right to be annoyed and upset a presidential debate would open with (let alone include at all) a question about a candidate’s personal life. But in so doing, Gingrich did nothing new in his response, nothing different than he’s done in every debate I’ve seen. His go-to move is smearing “elitist media” (his term) and trying to make the debate moderator the clear, present and constant adversary of he and the right-leaning debate audience. This time the moderator just so happened to be John King, but it could’ve been King Henry the Eighth. Newt doesn’t care who’s in the moderator’s chair (or standing in King’s case). Gingrich is painting right now with his broadest brush strokes. In this oft-repeated Newt view, the media reside on the left, specifically in Obama’s left pocket.

Yet that’s not what’s got me torqued. I’m mad this questioning of Gingrich’s second ex-wife (wow, that’s a weird thing to type … second ex-wife) ever happened, that she was even given this platform. There is never a proper time for such an interview, let alone two days before the South Carolina primary. It all felt so very GOTCHA-esque. Yellow and desparate. Ugly and ratings driven. (When is the next TV sweeps week?)

And, yes, I’m aware this is the point where political correctness rears its multiple heads. Yes, it’s bad practice to defend a serial cheater. No, I’m not defending him. Yes, it’s good media practice to give a voice to the voiceless, in this case Marianne Gingrich, although she hardly fits the mold of voiceless and in need of help. No, she isn’t expected to remain quiet, either, but, jeepers, have some class. You’re not auditioning for Real Housewives. Or the politicians’ version of Basketball Wives. To my knowledge, such a show does not exist, but can’t be far off now, after this insta-classic TMI moment.

I didn’t stay up to see Marianne Gingrich try to maneuver for 15 more minutes of fame, mostly because I can’t seem to stay up that late anymore, but also because I’ve made a habit of avoiding other people’s beds, lying squeezed inbetween a husband and a wife or a husband and his lover for whom he’s trying to attain his wife’s approval, and hearing what would be classified, at best, as pillow talk. Or, at worst, as breaking news.