What We Really Learned from ABC News and Marianne Gingrich

Anyone who made the decision last night, as I did, to watch Nightline’s appallingly tawdry interview with the second Mrs. Newt Gingrich learned nothing new about the target, whose marital infidelities are well known, but did, however, witness two of the most dangerous pathologies of the mainstream media (MSM) on vivid display.

ABC and its MSM colleagues claim to purvey news and opinion that are both serious and impartial. This interview was neither, indeed was the opposite of serious and impartial.

Last night's performance couldn't have provided a more vivid illustration of the double standards applied to the coverage of Republicans and Democrats.  It was a classic case of an abject lack of the fairness and objectivity they claim to epitomize -- even as they attack Fox News as unfair and unbalanced.

Let's start with seriousness.  Is ABC News serious that last night's Nightline was serious?

One could begin by saying that ABC “correspondent” Brian Ross’ interview with Marianne Gingrich was “tasteless" but that would be inaccurate.  It wasn't tasteless at all: it was odious-tasting, the way one might imagine, oh, skunk à la mode would taste, if the "mode" were an acrid ice cream confected with the skunk's own vile-smelling liquid squirt.

Both sides of this interview seemed to have a lot to gain, and neither succeeded.  Especially considering how Marianne began her relationship to Gingrich -- by being his girlfriend on the side during his first marriage -- she seems to me to be in one of the world's worst positions to whine, wail, point an accusing finger, and raise the "character" issue.

Turning to ABC so-called "News," and leaving aside for the nonce its enabling interviewing tactics, the network hardly managed to produce any Peabody-Award-worthy ground-breaking journalism with its blatant attempt at a grab for ratings and, of course, an effort to sabotage the campaign of the most lively and articulate Republican candidate.

And where can voters who missed last night’s Nightline see the entire tacky display now?  Not on ABC’s website, which includes only a few grim-faced tidbits -- no, not at all.  For the full performance, one must go to

which, although it has only 132 subscribers, boasts it has 84,320 video views, the latest being today’s addition of last night’s Nightline interview. The YouTube video bears the visible stamp of "facebook.com/ RonPaulUSA." No doubt Ron Paul would disavow any association with this group.

ABC News' introduction is an almost sexually aroused Terry Moran, hyping the upcoming interview in the breathless tone normally reserved by the broadcast media for tales of Michael Jackson’s activities at his estate, “Neverland,” Anna Nicole Smith’s death, and, the locus classicus to end all garish loci classici, the O.J. Simpson slow motion chase in the white Ford Bronco on California’s route 405 in 1994:

“Good evening, I’m Terry Moran and we begin tonight with a story at the white hot intersection of presidential politics, private lives and” -- melodramatic pause while the audience collectively draws in its breath in captivated-can’t-look-away mode, “character.” All ABC needed to add for the full effect they were seeking was the dramatic dum-da-dum-dum of Dragnet or the equally evocative and suspense-producing “DUM, DUM” of Law and Order: Criminal Intent.

Just in case it went by too fast, Terry Moran actually said, "the white hot intersection of presidential politics, private lives and character." White hot intersection?

This was not your father’s ABC News. It was the late British tabloid News of the World loaded for bear on performance-enhancing televised steroids.

In a ludicrous faux effort at “serious news,” Moran next confided to viewers, dropping his voice into a would-be meaningful lower pitch, “Gingrich has had a complicated private life.” No kidding, Terry, we’re all on tenterhooks, now.