With all that ails the nation, Meet the Press host David Gregory actually began his interview with Newt Gingrich by asking him about contraceptives and Rush Limbaugh.
Showing obvious disgust for the topic, the Republican presidential candidate marvelously responded, "You know, David, I am astonished at the desperation of the elite media to avoid rising gas prices, to avoid the President's apology to religious fanatics in Afghanistan, to avoid a trillion dollar deficit, to avoid the longest period of unemployment since the Great Depression, and to suddenly decide that Rush Limbaugh is the great national crisis of this week" (video follows with transcribed highlights and commentary):
The segment began with Gregory introducing this subject by playing a video clip of Limbaugh's comments regarding Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke followed by reading the conservative talk radio host's apology.
After his opening admonishment, Gingrich said, "There is no debate about access to contraception. There is a debate, which Cardinal George of Chicago has pointed out, is a war against the Catholic Church. You do have this weird situation where President Obama apologizes to Islamic extremists while waging war against the Catholic Church."
"Barack Obama as President," Gingrich continued, "in the most radical anti-religious move made by any president, is trying to coerce the Catholic Church at a time when he's been told by the bishops they would have to give up every single hospital...they would have to give up every single university and college associated with the church, because he is asking them to violate their religious beliefs."
Gregory continued to press the issue saying, "Do you think it was harmful that Limbaugh, as certainly an influential voice in a conservative grassroots and you well know that, was it appropriate for him to apologize? Do you think that he's done damage to the debate that you're now getting into?"
After saying it was appropriate for Limbaugh to apologize, Gingrich challenged Gregory asking, "Do you think the President owes an apology to all the men and women in uniform who he frankly abandoned when he apologized to religious fanatics in Afghanistan? What's your opinion, David?"
Not surprisingly, Gregory ignored that question and continued with the contraception issue asking, "Can you appreciate the view of those that disagree with you that this is an attack on women's rights? That's their view, reproductive rights, access to contraception, and the extreme that it's some sort of war on women."
Gingrich correctly replied, "Nobody's blocking anyone from having access to contraception. No one. The young lady who testified can get access to contraception. Nobody said she couldn't. The question is should a Catholic institution, or for that matter, the Ohio Christian University which is a Protestant institution, which is a very pro-Life institution, which is now being told it will have to pay for abortion pills. Should a Protestant fundamentalist institution be dictated to by Washington politicians over whether or not it can have its own religious beliefs, or have we become a country where it's okay to go to church on Sunday morning for one hour, but let's not actually express those beliefs the rest of the week?"
"This is the most fundamental assault on religious liberty in American history," continued Gingrich, "despite every effort by the elite media to distort what it's about. It's not about access to contraception. People have, people who want to can get access to contraception everyday."
Exactly, and this is how people like Gregory and his colleagues have completely distorted this issue since it began in January.
This has nothing to do with women's access to birth control. Contraceptives are plentiful in this nation and extremely inexpensive despite what Fluke claimed.
The idea that with soaring gas prices, stubbornly high unemployment, staggering budget deficits, and another looming war in the Middle East the nation is locked in a debate about what costs as little as fifteen dollars a month should be totally appalling to folks on both sides of the aisle.
But Gingrich was right. The goal here by the media is to assist the Obama administration in steering the narrative away from any of the real problems facing us.
This week the distraction was Sandra Fluke and Rush Limbaugh. What will it be next week?