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Posted by on Jan 18, 2012 in Breaking News, Media, Politics | 5 comments

Drudge: ABC News Holding “Bombshell” Interview with Gingrich’s Ex-Wife Until After South Carolina Primary (UPDATED)

File this in the “here we go again” file. Are we about to see another Drudge Report exclusive that will reconfigure the political horizon? Matt Drudge has a screeching headline on his site with an “exclusive” about a “civil war” raging at ABC over when to air a supposedly explosive interview with Marianne Gingrich, one of the former House Speaker’s wives. Here’s some of what he has:

[UPDATE…See more below.. There have been conflicting reports about when ABC will air it. The latest is that the network will air it Thursday night.]

She spoke to ABCNEWS reporter Brian Ross for two hours, and her explosive revelations are set to rock the trail.

But now a “civil war” has erupted inside of the network, an insider claims, on exactly when the confession will air!

MORE

ABCNEWS suits determined it would be “unethical” to run the Marianne Gingrich interview so close to the South Carolina Primary, a curious decision, one insider argued, since the network has aggressively been reporting on other candidates.

A decision was tentatively made to air the interview next Monday, after all votes have been counted.

Gingrich canceled a press conference on Wednesday to deal with the matter.

“He believes that what he says in public and how he lives don’t have to be connected,” Marianne Gingrich, Newt’s wife of 18 years, explained to ESQUIRE last year.

Developing…

Go to the link to read it in full.

Some thoughts:
1. I’ve always noted over the years that the key to Drudge’s exclusives is the sourcing. In this story, there is question of the timing. Did ABC just arrange this interview or did someone from some political circle facilitiate it being done at this time?
2. Earlier today Gingrich made a point of predicting the Romney campaign would pull out all stops to halt what Gingrich claimed was his strong advance in private polling in South Carolina. If you look at this story, perhaps this was what he was talking about.
3. Various blogs and Drudge dangle the suggestion that holding a story such as this is somehow unethical. In fact, I worked on at least one newspaper that avoided running last minute charges by a candidate that the other camp could not respond to. Even in local politics the election eve or close to election eve charge is legendary. The idea is that one side could try and swing the election at the last minute with something sensationalistic that may be false or not entirely accurate, not allowing the other side to respond in enough time and unfairly influencing the vote.
4. The real story here will be less about what his ex-wife says: what can she tell people about Gingrich that people already don’t suspect or think he is capable of? The REAL story is a)how did this story come about b)did she contact ABC out of the blue c)did ABC seek her out d)was she encouraged to come foward by the Romney camp?
5. It has always been suggested that Drudge had strong ties to the Republican establishment, but also during campaign 2008 of ties to the Hillary Clinton camp. No one knows for sure but in the news biz stories start with an enterprising reporter and/or editor or a news source. And if it’s a news source coming forward the question is always “why.” And “why” does he/she come froward at a certain time?

The CNN debate tomorrow night should be a GOOD one..

The Democrats must be loving all of this.

Because unless it is truly something catastrophic for Gingrich’s image, if this damages his new ascent there will be segment of Republicans who will blame Romney no matter what. And if Gingrich thinks it is being shoved into the media by the Romney camp he’ll say so in due course.

On the other hand, it is a natural story: exactly what DO Gingrich’s ex-wives think of him?

Some people have suggested the Huntsman daughters should have their own TV reality show. Actually, a better show would be a reality show featuring Gingrich’s ex-wives.

UPDATE: Websites and blogs are starting to weigh in.
TPM:

While details dribble out from Drudge you can get a comprehensive backgrounder in this TPM article from 2010, which is a stunning reminder of just how much material Marianne has at her disposal.

Even now it’s an explosive read. (Forgive, however, the distorted picture, which was a victim of TPM’s recent reformatting).

Weasel Zippers:

If it’s as bad as Drudge’s sources are telling him and ABC airs it before the primary Newt has zero chance of winning, especially when you consider he’s already trailing Romney….We know next to nothing about Obama and the MSM is already talking with Newt’s ex-wife.

-Allahpundit:

If her interview runs along those lines — Gingrichian egomania and hypocrisy but nothing criminal or lurid — I don’t know how much it’ll change things. You never know what information voters have and haven’t fully assimilated about a candidate, but Newt’s “values” problems have been public knowledge long enough that I take it they’re already mostly priced into his stock. He’s going to say she’s a disgruntled ex who’s making things up and, in any case, that he’s found redemption in his faith since the divorce. Unless she’s got a bombshell she’s ready to drop, how many voters thinking of voting for him at this point will really think twice?

Exit question: If the interview does air tomorrow, how hard will Santorum and Romney go after him at the debate over it? Santorum’s desperate to have social conservatives unite behind him, but this is an awfully messy attack to try with the, er, “Chevrolet” sitting in the audience in front of him.

-Gateway Pundit:

We all know that Newt Gingrich cheated on two of his three wives. He cheated on his wife Jackie, who had cancer, with Marianne Gingrich, the woman who gave an interview to ABC. If the details are simply that he was unkind to her or didn’t treat her right, well, surprise! You were the mistress! You helped break up a marriage and thus forfeited your right to be outraged when the next mistress usurped your spot as the new wife. I have no pity for the “other woman.” I guess that’s why I find Marianne Gingrich’s late-to-the-game interview so odd. Could there be any bigger bombshell than the story of their union?

That being said, ABC’s decision to drop this interview after the votes are counted in South Carolina has just been thwarted as the first shoe has been dropped. Everyone now expects the other one; they know that something is going to come out about Gingrich’s second marriage because of the Drudge headline. How will this affect voting? How will it affect fundraising? And will the details of the interview sufficiently match any loss of support that Gingrich may receive as a result?

As my colleague John Nolte said, “Drudge is amazing. He can literally stop the world from turning, something no MSM outlet can do.”

TV Newser:

14 years ago this week, a little website called The Drudge Report posted a story claiming that Newsweek had killed a story about President Clinton having an inappropriate affair with an intern.

This evening, Drudge has a similar–albeit less explosive–scoop.

-Ricochet:

Two things I’m having a hard time working out here. First, how is it ethical to leak news of a “bombshell interview” and to claim that said interview could be a total game changer, but then not to release the interview so that voters can decide for themselves whether the information divulged therein was indeed important? Second, is there really anything that a spurned ex-wife could say about Newt Gingrich—a man whose personal life we’ve all long known to be a [hopefully formerly] disheveled mess—that could potentially damn his chances in the upcoming South Carolina primary?

Slog:

If this is true, it’s a strange decision by ABC. Gingrich is on the rise in South Carolina, and a news outlet sitting on something like this—perhaps to pre-empt charges of being part of the dreaded Liberal Media Machine?—seems more manipulative than releasing it just before the primary.

The Politico:

A knowledgeable source at ABC News downplayed this angle, telling POLITICO that the interview would in all likelihood air tomorrow.

Marianne, who was the victim of her ex-husband’s infidelities for six years, has spoken to the press just once so far this campaign cycle, in a long piece for Esquire magazine.

UPDATE: An ABC News executive also tells the AP that the network intends to run the interview on Thursday night, during Nightline.

And Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren has a letter from Gingrich’s daughters to ABC.

CAUTIONARY NOTE: Keep in mind no one knows the content of this. Drudge is hyping it and given Drudge’s impact on the Clinton presidency and the twists and turns of this campaign season his report will get good play. But until it actually airs, no one knows. It could be that whatever Gingrich’s wife says doesn’t really change things for most voters and that this is a lot of hype. But it could also be significant. Most important will be Gingrich’s reaction to this: if he suggests it’s was actually put into the media by operatives from the Romney camp, rather than due to an enterprising reporter or his ex wife, it could leave some lingering bitterness in GOP ranks come November. Remember he pointedly said earlier today that the Romney camp would pull out all stops to defeat him. Accurate? Or a cover story?

UPDATE II: Greta Wire has the letter from Gingrich’s daughters to ABC News.

Buzzfeed has the 5 nastiest things Marianne Gingrich has ever said about Newt.

UPDATE III: The Boston Herald provides the political context:

Only three percentage points separate Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich in a national poll released today and 10 points apart in a new South Carolina poll.

The news comes as the Drudge Report states tonight the former House speaker’s ex-wife is ready to unload on him in an ABC/NEWS interview.

“Marianne Gingrich has said she could end her ex-husband’s career with a single interview,” Drudgereport.com states. The interview will probably not air until Monday, Drudge adds, after Saturday’s presidential primary.

Meanwhile, a Rasmussen Reports survey has the two just 3 percentage points apart in a national survey, with Romney at 30 percent to Gingrich’s 27 percent in South Carolina. That’s an 11 percent jump for Gingrich, who is launching one conservative rocket after another at his more moderate rival today.

A CNN poll for just South Carolina has Romney at 33 percent and Gingrich at 23 percent.