Friday, February 3, 2012

The Art of Media War

(may include language unsuitable for children...)

Newt Gingrich threatened last Monday to skip any debate as the Republican nominee versus President Obama that's moderated by a member of the media.

"As your nominee, I will not accept debates in the fall in which the reporters are the moderators," Gingrich said at a rally in Pensacola. "We don’t need to have a second Obama person at the debate."

Actually, what Newt meant to say was that he doesn’t need anyone at the debate who questions his facts or his personal/professional history in any way.  Smart move, of course.  If every other source is biased and unreliable, the only source of truth left is Newt himself.   If the press can’t be trusted, then all information must come directly from the campaign, and be accepted as factual with impunity. 
Newt then took his War on Media a step further.  Last Tuesday, he threatened not participate in any future debates with audiences that have been instructed to be silent.  Mandatory silence during a debate about “big ideas” amounts to stifling free speech, he told the Fox and Friends’ hosts.  The Fox and Friends members of the media then burst into spontaneous applause as is their Constitutional right.

Did I mention that the campaigns agreed to the debate rules in advance?

I thought there was a line in the Constitution about a free press, but I could be wrong.  Better ask a historian.

Only Gingrich could use the media to amplify his message that the media is stifling him.  I decided at that point to turn down the volume and violate Newt’s right to be heard in my living room.  Arrest me.

Gingrich’s trust in mob reactions as a measuring stick for popular opinion could be misguided.  After all, GOP debate audiences thus far this cycle cheered for the death of an uninsured person, cheered for executions, and booed the Golden Rule.  Not exactly the positions upon which to build a coalition since the Golden Rule tends to poll well in mainstream focus groups.  Sick people dying polls as kind of a downer, too.

 I’ll tell you what, Newt.  Since the media can’t get it right, let’s cancel the rest of the debates.  No more biased questions.  No more assaults on free speech.  And no more free media giving Newt the opportunity to act like a bully and inspire the mobs in his favor.  Instead of reducing the presidential debates to campaign rallies where bigger, more extreme ideas that sound good in focus groups get huge cheers and drown out opposing viewpoints, let’s have a series of Lincoln-Douglass style debates, just like the Founders did.  Now where have I heard that idea before?

Update on that pesky press:  After John King from CNN asked Newt to respond to allegations from his 2nd wife about his seeking an “open marriage”, Newt turned the tables and the focus onto John King.  In his counterattack, Gingrich promised to offer witnesses to ABC News to rebut that network's interview.  Turns out, he had no witnesses and he was just bullying King into submission in the moment.

"Tonight, after persistent questioning by our staff, the Gingrich campaign concedes now Speaker Gingrich was wrong — both in his debate answer, and in our interview yesterday," King said on his show, John King USA. "Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond says the only people the Gingrich campaign offered to ABC were his two daughters from his first marriage."

John King, that biased elitist bastard, using the truth against Newt again!

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