The media ♥ Newt Gingrich
By Dana Milbank,
These are difficult times for you, no doubt, and we understand that people sometimes say things they don’t really mean. We hope that explains your cruel comment about us here in Orlando this week.
“All of our friends in the news media,” you said, “are very excited and eager to end this race as early as possible.” In our hurry to crown Mitt Romney as the Republican presidential nominee, you seem to think, we’re trying to use your wipe-out in the Florida primary to declare an end to your campaign.
Newt, these are hurtful words. I speak for many colleagues when I say that we in the news media are great fans of your candidacy: of the 200 people in the room for your “Victory Party” when polls closed Tuesday night, about 185 of them were journalists. And no wonder: You’re the only thing saving us from a long spring of despair, the only person who can, by extending the presidential race, drive up our audience and bring us the revenues we so desperately need.
You give us exactly what political journalists crave. Sure, some of us are ideologically biased, but we are far more biased in favor of conflict — and that's why we’re all in the tank for you. We’ve loved you since you created the modern era of politics-as-blood-sport in the House two decades ago. When a preacher opened an event for you this week with a prayer that God “embolden” you, only our journalistic detachment prevented us from shouting out: “Amen.”
How do we love you, Newt Gingrich? Let us count the ways.
We love that, in an age of disciplined pols, you are different: You travel with suit jackets in multiple sizes to keep pace with your yo-yoing waistline. You’re always late — sometimes spectacularly so. Romney follows a written, minute-by-minute schedule, complete with weather forecasts; often your top aides don’t know where you’re going.
Given the financial state of our industry, we share your zeal for lost causes: the defiant signs your supporters waved at your “concession” speech Tuesday night warning “46 STATES TO GO,” and your insistence earlier in the day that you would fight on for “eight months. . .unless Romney drops out earlier.” It takes a special man to boast that he is “where Ronald Reagan was in 1976” – the year he lost. Your quest is echoed even in the name of the company that books your campaign flights: Moby Dick Airways.
We love, as well, your versatility: that you oppose the embryonic stem-cell research and the health-care mandate you once favored. We were tickled when you condemned us this week for having a “horse-race mentality” — nine hours after you were in a bar with us discussing the horse race.
We have a special place in our hearts for a man who describes himself as “a really important guy who really knows a lot.” We enjoyed that, when you were told your moon colony idea was grandiose, you embraced “the charge that I am grandiose” and compared yourself to Abraham Lincoln and the Wright Brothers. We feel spoiled by your many attempts to liken yourself to Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and the Roosevelts — both of them.
There is so much more. We love your feigned umbrage and your wild superlatives. We admire the way you frequently send us to Google to test your veracity — like when you said this week that George Soros had labeled you with words he had not actually used.
We don’t even mind your constant attacks on us, such as your threat this week that you would boycott debates moderated by journalists. We know you don’t mean that, and, just as CNN’s John King helped you to win the South Carolina primary, we’re happy to be your foils.
We felt discomfort for you when Fox News, playing on a big screen at your Victory Party, projected Romney’s win at 8 p.m. sharp. We felt pain when we heard that your concession speech might have to be delayed because there weren’t enough supporters to fill the seats behind you. We felt anguish when we learned that some of the “supporters” on the floor were in fact onlookers from a hardware convention.
But when you emerged after 9 p.m. Tuesday to give your speech, you spoke directly to “the elite media” about your intentions: “I just want to reassure them tonight: We are going to contest every place, and we are going to win, and we will be in Tampa as the nominee in August.”
Thank you for that, Newt. As your most ardent fans, we in the media are greatly relieved.
More on from PostOpinions: Wemple: Where are Gingrich’s big ideas to fix the media? Rubin: Gingrich’s graceless ‘concession’ speech Thiessen: Why is Team Gingrich aiding Obama?