Gingrich Attacks Media Over Ex-Wife Interview
CNN debate moderator John King wasted no time addressing the story of the day in Thursday’s GOP debate, opening the event from the North Charleston Coliseum in South Carolina by asking Newt Gingrich about his ex-wife claiming in an ABC News interview that he asked for an open marriage.
Gingrich, for his part, wasted no time in firing back at King for even asking the question.
“I think the destructive vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office. And I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that,” he said, which was met with a standing ovation in the audience.
The Speaker eventually went on to deny the claims made by his second wife Marianne, and again blasted the media — in this case ABC — claiming they did not give his campaign the opportunity to respond to the claims.
“The story is false,” Gingrich said. ”Every personal friend I have who knew us in that period says the story was false. We offered several of them to ABC to prove it was false. They weren’t interested, because they would like to attack any Republican.”
An ABC News spokesperson says Gingrich’s claim is “obviously false on its face,” noting that Gingrich’s two daughters appeared on-camera during the interview that aired on Nightline Thursday.
“We repeatedly and aggressively sought any Gingrich surrogate to be part of our piece for three solid days,” the spokesperson said.
After the debate, King appeared on AC360 and defended his decision to open the debate with the hot-button issue
“This is one of those damned if you do, damned if you don’t,” King told Anderson Cooper. ”It was my judgment, my decision, and mine alone. If we’re going to deal with it, let’s deal with it up front, let’s not try to sneak it into the middle of the debate somewhere. And people at home either agree with that or disagree with that.”
The opening question was no doubt the headline of the debate, with CNN’s David Gergen saying that Gingrich could win the S.C. primary with the answer, though he agreed King had a duty as a journalist to ask the question.
“This is one of the most explosive moments that we have seen in debate history,” Gergen said. ”It was also one of the harshest attacks we’ve had on the press that I can remember in a long, long time.”
Watch the video of the King-Gingrich exchange below: