Rooting for Newt?

To me, the most interesting observation after the South Carolina primary came from New York magazine reporter and regular TV pundit John Heilemann, who said this on MSNBC (h/t Nicole Belle at Crooks and Liars):

Gingrich is going to get so much free media attention over the next few days. It is going to be wall to wall Gingrich, and I think it is fair to say that, in some ways, the “liberal media,” as Gingrich would put it, is kind of rooting for Gingrich right now. They want this–they/we, want this race to go on, so he is gonna have, he is gonna get more attention and in some ways more favorable coverage, at least for the next couple days, than he would ordinarily from people who would normally give him tougher scrutiny.

So the guy who’s been running against the “liberal media” might actually see his campaign boosted by that very same media? Yes. Heilemann thinks it’s about the press wanting to see a competitive race, which is certainly part of it.

But it’s worth pointing out that Gingrich’s attacks on the media from the debate podium don’t tell us much about how he really feels about the media. As Ginger Gibson of Politico reported (1/20/12), Gingrich can be quite the charmer when the cameras are off:

The same candidate who on Thursday decried “the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media” shows another face to the cadre of reporters who follow his campaign day-to-day. He jokes with them, publicly celebrates their birthdays, teases them about the early hour they are often forced out of bed to cover his events.

Gibson added that “Gingrich also appears to make a distinction between individual reporters and the media as a whole and comprehends the insatiable nature of the modern news hole.”

Or to get at it more succinctly, read this post by Daily Mail reporter Toby Harnden. Or just read the headline: “Newt Gingrich’s Big, Slobbering Mutual Love Affair With the Elite Media.”

Harnden even posted a photo of the press pass reporters were given for Gingrich’s post-election event:

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.