NBC and ABC Hit Gingrich For 'Outrageous' Child Labor Comments That 'Left Some Critics Slack-Jawed'

On Thursday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams fretted over comments made by Newt Gingrich about providing school jobs for inner-city students: "The Newt Gingrich that a lot of folks will remember from his speakership days back in the '90s was back on display making statements about controversial issues that left some of his critics slack-jawed."

In an interview with the former Speaker aired on Thursday's ABC World News, chief White House correspondent Jake Tapper similarly cautioned: "And then the other concern has to do with your propensity to make outrageous, interesting, however – whatever adjective you'd like to assign – remarks, the most recent one about child labor laws, for example, being stupid."

After Gingrich reiterated his proposal to have school children in poorer neighborhoods do part-time work in their schools, from helping in library to doing janitorial work, Tapper pointed out: "But Democrats could very easily take that comment and say, "Newt Gingrich wants inner city kids to become janitors at age 10." Gingrich replied: "And the correct answer is that's a lie."  

On NBC, Williams transitioned to the Gingrich story by announcing the "wild unsettled race going on within the GOP." Chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd described Gingrich's comments as, "quintessential Newt... making broad assertions and diving into issues that haven't been front and center..."


Here is a full transcript of Todd's December 1 report:

7:07PM ET

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Now we turn to the presidential campaign trail and the wild unsettled race going on within the GOP. The Newt Gingrich that a lot of folks will remember from his speakership days back in the '90s was back on display making statements about controversial issues that left some of his critics slack-jawed. Our report from NBC's Chuck Todd.

CHUCK TODD: Former Speaker Gingrich was quintessential Newt in Iowa today, making broad assertions and diving into issues that haven't been front and center, like child labor laws and the work habits of the poorest Americans.

NEWT GINGRICH: Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works.

TODD: Those remarks came as Gingrich tried to clarify his claim at Harvard two weeks ago that child labor laws are quote, "truly stupid."

GINGRICH: You have kids who are required under law to go to school. They have no money. They have no habit of work. What if you paid them part-time in the afternoon to sit at the clerical office and greet people when they came in? What if you paid them to work as the assistant librarian?

TODD: Meanwhile, Herman Cain met with the influential New Hampshire Union Leader newspaper, admitting that he never told his wife about a 13-year friendship with a woman who says it was an affair. Cain denies that but says he still hasn't talked to his wife about it in person or decided whether to quit running.

HERMAN CAIN: I haven't had an opportunity to sit down with her and walk through this with my wife and my family. I will do that when I get back home on Friday.

TODD: Still, if actions speak louder than words, it appears Cain plans on staying in. The superpac supporting him is set to debut one of the most unusual TV ads of the year, citing a lie detector.

ANNOUNCER: The media won't tell you what one of the foremost lie detector experts in America said about Herman Cain.

T.J. WARD: From my exam, he is being truthful. The allegations of saying that she'd been sexually assaulted by him did not occur.

TODD: The establishment frontrunner Mitt Romney was off the early state campaign trail. He paid a visit to former President Bush 41, former First Lady Barbara Bush, as you see in this photo today, trying to flaunt those establishment credentials. He didn't come away with an endorsement, Brian. Of course the entire Bush family has been staying on the sidelines so far.

WILLIAMS: Alright, Chuck Todd in our Washington newsroom tonight. Chuck, thanks.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC