On ABC, Newt Gingrich Slams Media's Lack of Fairness to McCain/Palin
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Friday strongly challenged "Good Morning America" host Diane Sawyer about the media's lack of fairness towards the McCain/Palin presidential ticket. The exchange came after the ABC journalist followed up on negative Gingrich remarks about the Obama tax plan by asserting, "for fairness," Obama talking points on middle class tax cuts.
An irritated Gingrich refused to allow Sawyer to move on to another topic and retorted, "No, wait a second. I don't notice very often, reporters, for fairness, pointing out what Governor Palin said or pointing out what Senator McCain said." The GMA anchor, slightly taken aback, defended, "And let me just say, I do point out what Senator McCain says, Mr. Speaker. You know I do." [audio excerpt available here]
And yet, just a few minutes earlier, during a different segment, Sawyer seemed to prove Gingrich's point that the media often recite the left's talking points and attacks. She launched into an update on Joe "the plumber" Wurzelbacher, which was really a series of gratuitous attacks on the Ohio man who famously challenged Obama over his tax plan. She derided, "It turns out, even though he was arguing about taxes for plumbers who end up making $250,000 a year, it turns out that he doesn't have a plumbing license, though the company he works for does."
Continuing to pile on, she complained, "And even though he criticized Senator Obama's tax plan, he hasn't been very good at tax paying. He owes taxes. $1,200 in back taxes." Sawyer sniffed, "So, as we say, 15 minutes of fame can be tough on everybody."
The anchor even teased the update by announcing, "And also, we're going to tell you about the cruel morning after the fabulous day for Joe the plumber. It turns out people started going through the files and we'll tell you what they learned about him."
A transcript of Sawyer's interview with Gingrich, and the update on Joe the plumber, follow:
DIANE SAWYER: And we're back to politics now with 18 days to go until the election. We love to pose things. Think about how the election could change. As we know, Senator Obama is ahead. Could Senator McCain close the gap? We're going to bring in one of the gladiators of the Republican Party, former Republican Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich. Good morning, Mr. Speaker.
NEWT GINGRICH: Good morning.
SAWYER: Let's go back to the news of the morning. We saw John McCain so charming and funny last night. At the same time though, as we heard also from John Berman, those, what they call, robo-calls are going out, once again, with negative attacks on Bill Ayers and Senator Obama. Is this a good idea?
GINGRICH: Well, I don't think it's the most important issue. I think the country, actually, is actually worried about the economy. And Senator Obama actually gave Senator McCain, I think, the winning issue, in his conversation the other day, about spreading the wealth. I think, you ask the average American, do you want your government to focus on jobs and economics, or on spreading the wealth? Overwhelmingly, I think they distrust the idea of politicians deciding how much you're allowed to keep and politicians giving that money to their friends. I think there's a deep divide in this country on that issue. And my guess is that if McCain and Palin focus on whether or not you want politicians taking your money away to give to their cronies, such as A.C.O.R.N., for example, I think you'll find he's going to continue to close. Gallup last night had him within two points among likely voters, which is a dramatic change from a week ago. So, I would say this race is a long way from over.
SAWYER: We are seeing a lot of different polls out there. Let me bring up Karl Rove, who said, it's not cast in stone. But in order to do this, Senator McCain has got to do what he calls, thread the eye of the needle. That's how tough it's going to be. And I'll show everybody on the map what he was talking about. He says that of the states that George Bush won in 2004, John McCain has got to do this. He has got to get Nevada, Colorado, Missouri, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida. If he can do that, and If he does that, he can still afford to lose, Iowa and New Mexico. Do you think, at this point, he can make that sweep and thread the eye of the needle, given the polls that show Obama ahead in so many of those states?
GINGRICH: No. I don't think you do it that. And Karl and I have a fundamentally different view of how politics works. I think if John McCain in the next 18 days wins the argument nationally, exactly the way Harry Truman did in 1948, and if you get a four-point or five-point swing nationally, all of a sudden, a whole group of states fall his way. I think if you campaign hard enough on the issue of whether you want politicians to take away your money to share the wealth with their friends, I suspect Pennsylvania becomes vulnerable. Michigan becomes vulnerable. And you're in a different election. It's a very different model.
SAWYER: But- Let me ask you this though- You have kept saying, go back on the economy. Stay on the economy. Who is doing the negative campaigning? And why does it keep going on, if it is such a distraction?
GINGRICH: Well, look, both sides are doing a lot of negative campaigning. The fact is that Senator Obama has done an immense amount of negative campaigning in states like Virginia. I think he bought 13000 ads to Senator McCain's eight ads in the last three weeks. So, both campaigns have consultants who believe in negative advertising. I'm describing something different. The way Harry Truman came from behind. And he was so far behind that they quit polling in September. The way he came from behind, was he moved the entire country. The country's paying attention. And I can just tell you, I was in Kansas City and St. Louis yesterday. And people do not want politicians deciding how to redistribute the wealth to their cronies. People instinctively believe that when Speaker Pelosi says we're going to have to take, quote, "harsh measures," she's talking about harsh measures with the tax payer. And I think that if Senator McCain and Governor Palin spend the rest of this campaign focused on whether or not politicians ought to take money away from you and decide how much you're allowed to keep, I suspect they win the election.
SAWYER: Again, I have to point out for fairness this morning that Senator Obama's campaign says that the middle class gets three times the tax relief for the middle class than Senator McCain does. But I want to ask you about something you said back at the convention-
GINGRICH: No, wait- No, wait a second. No, wait a second. I don't notice very often, reporters, for fairness, pointing out what Governor Palin said or pointing out what Senator McCain said. The fact is, that what Senator Obama said the other night was a Freudian slip, which he shouldn't have said. And he basically said, look, we have got to spread the wealth. But, who is he talking about? The "we" here is politicians.
GINGRICH: The fact is, the average American doesn't believe- it doesn't matter who you're raising taxes on, the average American doesn't believe that it's the right thing for America to have politicians deciding to spread the wealth to their cronies.
SAWYER: And let me just say, I do point out what Senator McCain says, Mr. Speaker. You know I do.
SAWYER: But, let me ask you about something that you said at the time of the convention. Because at that time, as we know, Governor Palin had at 58 percent favorable rating, which has now dropped, according to polls, to 32 percent. And you talked about her as the leader of the Republican Party. Let's listen.
GINGRICH [at the RNC]: I suspect this will turn out to be the stronger possible ticket that we could have fielded this year. Senator McCain has now created a national figure who's young enough, could well be a leader of this country over the next two generations.
SAWYER: We're coming down to 15 seconds. Do you still agree with that?
GINGRICH: She draws huge crowds everywhere she goes. She's a very talented person. And unlike Joe Biden, she doesn't claim to go to a restaurant that went out of business in 1986, which is what he claimed in his part of the debate. I'll stick with Governor Palin over Joe Biden.
SAWYER: All right. Mr. Speaker. Great to have you with us. And I want everybody out there to go to ABCNews.com because the Speaker has a new documentary out, called "We Have the Power," about energy at this country. Go take a look at it there.
SAWYER: And also, we're going to tell you about the cruel morning after the fabulous day for Joe the plumber. It turns out people started going through the files and we'll tell you what they learned about him.
SAWYER: And right now, we're going to update you on Joe Wurzelbacher. He was also a punch line a lot last night. You know, he's the Ohio plumber and presidential debate sensation who appeared on our show yesterday morning. It turns out, even though he was arguing about taxes for plumbers who end up making $250,000 a year, it turns out that he doesn't have a plumbing license, though the company he works for does. And even though he criticized Senator Obama's tax plan, he hasn't been very good at tax paying. He owes taxes. $1,200 in back taxes. And all of that started coming out yesterday. And then suddenly, nobody was taking a call at his house. So, as we say, 15 minutes of fame can be tough on everybody.