Newt Gingrich is Too Good for Us

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 30 2011 9:50 AM

Newt Gingrich is Too Good for Us

Seema Mehta asks Newt Gingrich how his fundraising is going.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

See, I knew you couldn't resist. I'm not going to answer you. You should really go home and think about why you would even ask that today.
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The quote is much improved by the video here; at 3:40, Gingrich gets the question, and holds up his hand with a mixture of pity and disgust.

And none of this should surprise us. Gingrich has always despised the horse race/story of the day media. In Lessons Learned the Hard Way, his memoir of the first two years of the Republican Revolution, Gingrich spills out his heart with regret for letting the media ask him questions and get answers. He blames himself, a little, for letting the press trap him. But his basic conclusion, after a conversation with Sonny Bono about how to handle oneself as a celebrity, is that the press is only ever out for blood.

Reporters know this, and I was amused to read Mehta's first story about the quote. Mehta's follow-up piece is disappointing, because she actually covers what Gingrich wants reporters to cover.

Grand descriptions aside, the new contract contains four sections — a set of 10 legislative changes; a pledge to sign as many as 200 executive orders on the first day in office; a training program...

Wait: Why are we reading this? If you stand up every reporter and make him or her inject a truth serum, you will find no one who actually thinks Gingrich can be president. He's an amusing, quotable figure, sort of like a political scientist or a Jonas brother. But his campaign is really a time-marking exercise, a way to sell some books (Callista has a new children's book!) before he gets another TV contract. Reporters are doing him a favor by showing up to his event and asking him questions, and that makes his contempt for the process even more amusing.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.