The most dramatic part of Newt Gingrich’s famous rant on the Marianne Gingrich story last Thursday night was this:

“This story is false. Every personal friend I had 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. They’re attacking the governor, they’re attacking me, I’m sure they’ll get around to Sen. Santorum, and Congressman Paul. I am tired of the elite media protecting Barack Obama by attacking Republicans.”

Cue the applause, the poll surge, the South Carolina victory, the “mo.”

The next morning, this blog posted an item carrying an on-the-record denial from ABC News that any such friends were offered.

Next step: CNN correspondent John King the other day put that question to Gingrich in a follow-up interview; Gingrich called ABC’s claims “baloney” and said that he’d check with aide R.C. Hammond to make sure. “We have several people prepared to be very clear and very aggressive in their dispute about that, and they weren’t interested.”

Final step: King last night reports that after “persistent” questioning, CNN says that the Gingrich campaign conceded that the speaker was wrong. The only folks the Gingrich camp lined up for ABC, said Hammond, were Gingrich’s “two daughters from his first marriage.”

What CNN pried out of Gingrich & Co. was something akin to a correction. And like most corrections, it hits the public realm with a much smaller splash than the original erroneous accusation.