Ex-Clinton Operative Stephanopoulos Questions Gingrich's 'Character and Temperament'

Irony alert: Former Clinton operative George Stephanopoulos on Monday questioned Newt Gingrich's "character and temperament." The Good Morning America co-anchor interviewed the Republican presidential candidate and unselfconsciously scolded, "I know you've faced these kinds of questions before. Is there any way for you to put this issue of temperament to rest?" [See video below. MP3 audio here.]

Stephanopoulos began his attack by highlighting, "Let me get to the question of character and temperament. Rick Santorum on This Week, yesterday, called you a friend but also erratic and a high-risk candidate." Back in the early '90s, Stephanopoulos was in charge of handling Bill Clinton's "bimbo eruptions."

On page 267 of his autobiography All Too Human, Stephanopoulos recounted how he tried to keep networks from discussing Paula Jones: "It wasn't a hard sell, and ABC was even less inclined to sensationalize a supposed sex scandal because of their twenty-two minute Whitewater extravaganza the night before."

This isn't the first time Stephanopoulos hypocritically ignored his own background as he attacked a Republican. Back on November 30, 2011, Stephanopoulos derided Herman Cain: "There are just too many questions about [Cain's] honesty, his judgment, his experience, his organization."

On Monday, the GMA co-host pushed Gingrich to release financial documents related to his work for Freddie Mac: "And I have a specific question, will you release the consulting contract your company had with Freddie Mac before the Florida primary?"

Despite Gingrich's stated position that he'd be fine with releasing the documents, Stephanopoulos again grilled, "You said you're happy to have those records released. You first said that a few weeks ago, but they haven't been released by the company. Do you want them to do it before the Florida primary?"

A transcript of Stephanopoulos' question about character can be found below:


GMA
01/23/12
7:12

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me get to the question of character and temperament. Rick Santorum on This Week, yesterday, called you a friend but also erratic and a high-risk candidate. Mitt Romney is questioning your sobriety and steadiness. And his surrogates have gone even further. Chris Christie has called you an embarrassment. I know you've faced these kinds of questions before. Is there any way for you to put this issue of temperament to rest?

GINGRICH: Well, first of all, I think you're going to see the establishment go wild in the next week or two. The idea of a Gingrich presidency actually changing Washington, of my ignoring all the powers that be. I have no ties to Goldman Sachs, for example, the biggest single backer of Romney. I have no ties to the power structure. I think that they're very frightened of the idea of genuine outsider. And I've managed to remain a genuine outsider because I'm a Reagan populist conservative and I have for my whole career.

If you talk to Tony Dolan, who was for eight years the Reagan's senior speech writer, You talk to Bud McFarlane, who for five years was Reagan's National Security Adviser, you talk to many people I've worked with over the years. I've spent 16 years working to create the House Republican majority. I don't know of anybody else who did that. I worked for that many years to get welfare reform- actually for 18 years to get welfare reform passed. Pretty steady. Pretty stable. As Speaker, we balanced the budget for four years. Those are tough things to do. You rock a lot of boats. You shake up a lot of people. If people want somebody who is going to shake up Washington, I can do it. If they want somebody that's timid and manage the decay, they ought to vote for Romney.

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