Actually, Harry S Truman said, “Get out of the kitchen.” Though not original, the old adage has regularly been attibuted to the late President. I believe, however, that my slightly altered version applies in the case of serial adulterer Newt Gingrich.
The disgraced former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representives went ballistic when questioned at the beginning of Thursday night’s debate about an ABC interview in which wifey number two accused him of asking her to consent to an “open marriage” so that he could continue romping in the hay with pretty little Callista Bisek—then a congressional aide, now Gingrich’s wifey number three. He wanted a newer model in case he ran for President. Marianne Gingrich refused to be part of her husband’s harem.
I don’t know if there was a connection, but she had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis a few months before. Maybe Gingrich has an aversion to sick wives. He dumped his first wife while she was in a hospital recovering from cancer. Nice guy.
Self-righteously, poor put upon Newt attacked meany moderator John King for raising the issue Thursday evening, even though the prurient political story was getting big play in the daily news cycle. The tale of tail was only slightly behind Texas Governor Rick Perry’s departure from the GOP race, and Rick Santorum belatedly being declared the winner of the Iowa caucus by an overwhelming margin of 34 votes.
Fair warning. I’m going to get in a couple of plugs for my non-best selling memoir in this blog post. I’ve been there, done that—interviewed ex-spouses, reported an exposé on the eve of an election, and had my own sins exposed in newspapers, magazines and leaked by political operatives who didn’t appreciate my muckraking.
The Salon article is mild compared to reality—a sad tale of decadence I disclose in my memoir. But after a failed audition on New Orleans’ skid row, I got sober and have spent four decades redeeming myself. I believe in forgiveness from below and above. I’ve gotten my share. But if anybody wants to call me a degenerate drunk, or a Derelict Gunslinger, they have grounds. Anyway, buy the damn book and read all about it.
Back to the controversy at hand. I question John King’s judgment in opening the debate with the question. In front of an audience that included Tea Partiers, Fox “News” viewers, Rush Limbaugh fans, and people who distrust the mainstream media, the peek behind Newt’s zipper came prematurely and gave him an opportunity to play to the boos and catcalls of the crowd. After all, most of these folks confuse facts with partianship. And Newt was ready with a tirade I’m certain he rehearsed prior to the debate.
But make no mistake about it, the question should have been asked since it received so much play earlier in the day. Gingrich’s whine about the timing of the question two days before the vote was misdirected. ABC, not CNN, did the interview with wife number two for Nightline, and began airing teasers in its newscasts and putting out news releases. Why, I don’t know. It was an old story. Marriane added nothing to an interview she gave Vanity Fair a year ago.
Oddly, the interview was done by ABC’s chief investigative correspondent, Brian Ross. Where was the investigation? I don’t like criticizing Brian. He is a former colleague. We worked together at Miami’s NBC affiliate back in the 1970’s and remained friendly after moving onward and upward. I’m puzzled why he and ABC News regurgitated an old story two days before the election.
The timing would not have been so bad if he had broken new ground. I faced a similar dilemma early in my muckraking career. Thirty-eight years ago as a radio newsman—yes, there once were investigative reporters working for radio stations—I was faced with the issue of breaking an embarrassing story on a local congressman a few days before an election. The guy was a sure winner, regardless of what I revealed. Fearing my story would be perceived as a desperate effort to influence the vote, I suggested that we hold the story until after the election.
My boss set me straight. The late Douglas Manship and his family owned radio stations, television stations and both Baton Rouge newspapers. Having a friendly congressman in Washington was to his advantage. But as I wrote in Odyssey of a Derelict Gunslinger, he told me to forget about criticism.
“I don’t care if people consider the timing political. We don’t withhold information from voters. They can make their own judgments about the man’s character.”
Anyone who cares, should already be aware of Newt Gingrich’s character. It ain’t a pretty picture. ABC News simply provided a new venue for his former spouse to unleash her bitterness, which is already well known. Indeed, I have no problem relying on ex’s to dump on husbands and/or wives. As I noted in my book—Odyssey of a Derelict Gunslinger, in case you’ve forgotten—the source of my first ever TV story was an embittered wife.
I disclosed “intimate” details of a sting operation targeting a lecherous local judge who spent large sums of money on party girls―one of whom happened to be a longtime IRS snitch. A lover’s quarrel inspired her to exact revenge by providing revenue agents details of the jurist’s lavish lifestyle. An investigation disclosed that his fun and games were supported by a few lawyers who regularly appeared in his courtroom. The IRS probe put the playboy’s job, reputation and freedom in jeopardy. Not to mention his marriage.
When the judge failed to return telephone calls, I showed up at his home. I discovered he was no longer welcome there. So I convinced his indignant spouse to share feelings about her wayward husband’s peccadilloes. In a Jerry Springer-like “exclusive,” the woman said something to the effect that he was a no-account son-of-a-bitch, and she would take great pleasure in performing surgery on his genitals.
Five years later in another town, I relied on another ex-wife for information that helped form the basis of a story that won me a New England Emmy for investigative reporting. She showed me bank statements and income tax records disclosing that her spouse made pay-offs to Boston’s Mayor in return for city contracts.
So guys and gals, be careful when you dump your spouses and run off with lovers. It can come back to haunt you—over and over and over again. When its dumped on your doorstep, don’t blame the messenger. Man up. Or Woman up.
Newt, you had your fun. So quit bitching.
My memoir, Odyssey of a Derelict Gunslinger: A Saga of Exposing TV Preachers, Corrupt Politicians, Right-Wing Lunatics…and Me is available at amazon.com, soft-cover or Kindle and at independent bookstores like the Cottonwood in Baton Rouge. It offers $19.99 worth of laughs and much more. The book is an account of my illustrious (I choose the adjectives) investigative reporting career. email@example.com.