New Tone: Howard Fineman Smears Newt Gingrich as a Mad Bomber

Former Newsweek editor Howard Fineman on Wednesday trashed Newt Gingrich as a mad bomber, smearing, "...Newt's main appeal and his main skill is as a guy who knows exactly where to put the explosive device to blow up the bridge."

Fineman was appearing on Chris Matthews' Hardball. Matthews has previously decried so-called incendiary rhetoric on the right, but the host just chuckled at Fineman's comments. 

On November 30, Fineman, now with the Huffington Post, used similar incendiary language against Gingrich: "...He's the cold-blooded conservative revolutionary and demolition expert who knew -- and still knows -- precisely where to place the C-4 to blow up the establishment."

Matthews on Wednesday excoriated Gingrich as evil and made, yet another of his movie references: "I'm just pointing out his appeal to the right-wing haters. They want somebody who looks nasty like a Jack Palance, you know, from Shane. Some nasty guy that the dogs walk away when they see him."

A transcript of the exchange, which aired at 5:06pm EST on December 7, follows:


CHRIS MATTHEWS: Well, let me go to Howard now on character discussion here. It looks to me like if you're looking to cast a villain, someone to go after the marshal, who's President Obama, you're looking with a guy with some notches on his belt and Newt's got them. Look at Jim Wright and the rest of them back then and with some scars on his face, a guy that does look nasty. I'm not being- attacking Newt right now on that basis. I'm just pointing out his appeal to the right-wing haters. They want somebody who looks nasty like a Jack Palance, you know, from Shane. Some nasty guy that the dogs walk away when they see him. You know what I'm talking about.

HOWARD FINEMAN: I know what you're talking about, Chris. And I wrote about it the other week when Newt was really started to rocket to the top, because I've covered him from the beginning, and I've always said and I wrote in this piece, that Newt's main appeal and his main skill is as a guy who knows exactly where to put the explosive device to blow up the bridge. He did it- he did it the to the Democratic establishment in the House which it had controlled the House of Representatives for 40 years.

Newt basically invented a new style of semi-intellectual attack politics that was made to appeal to the rising generation of Republicans, baby boomers, who had read Barry Goldwater, who had read the National Review, who wanted an intellectual gloss for the all-out kneecapping they were about to commit against the Democratic Party.

That's Newt's background. The older generation of Republican voters, likely Republican voters, remember that Newt. They forgotten some of the bad stuff like the shutdown of the government, et cetera, et cetera. They forgot Newt the cry baby on Air Force One. They remember Newt the attack dog. They remember Newt, the guy who blew up a seemingly, you know, entrenched Democratic establishment.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org