E-Book: Fox's Bret Baier Warned Juan Williams Newt Would Take Advantage of 'Food Stamp President' Question
Matt Lewis at The Daily Caller reports a new E-book by RealClearPolitics’ Washington editor Carl Cannon and executive editor Tom Bevan contains a juicy media tidbit. During preparation for the January 16 Myrtle Beach GOP debate, Fox News anchor Bret Baier and his producers voiced concern that if Juan Williams asked Newt Gingrich a question about black Americans demanding “jobs, not food stamps,” that Gingrich could hit back hard, “attempting to turn Williams into a prop, as he had done with both Chris Wallace and Baier in a debate in Ames, Iowa.”
But Williams persisted in his planned spin. “I need to ask it this way...because it’s offensive.”
Noel Sheppard captured what happened next: Newt didn't back down one iota.
JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS: Speaker Gingrich, the suggestion you made was about a lack of work ethic, and I gotta tell you my email account, my Twitter account has been inundated with people of all races, who are asking if your comments are not intended to belittle the poor and racial minorities. You saw some of this reaction during your visit to a black church in South Carolina. [Audience boos]
We saw some of this during your visit to a black church in South Carolina where a woman asked you why you refer to President Obama as The Food Stamp President. It sounds as if you are seeking to belittle people. [Audience boos]
NEWT GINGRICH: Well, first of all, Juan, the fact is that more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history. Now, I know among the politically correct you are not supposed to use facts that are uncomfortable. [Audience applause]
Second, you are the one who earlier raised a key point. There's a, the area on I-73 was called by Barack Obama a corridor of shame because of unemployment. Has it improved in three years? No. They haven't built the road, they haven't helped the people, they haven't done anything.
So, one last thing. So here's my point. I believe every American of every background has been endowed by their Creator with the right to pursue happiness, and if that makes liberals unhappy, I'm going to continue to find ways to help poor people learn how to get a job, learn how to get a better job, and learn some day to own the job.
The RCP book explains Fox didn't come back around to how Gingrich would spin the question:
The meeting adjourned with an agreement to construct a second question to help “redirect” Gingrich if he tried to spin the question back on Williams. Jon Huntsman’s exit from the race the morning of the debate left Baier’s crew scrambling to revise the script and reorder the questions, and they never got around to discussing Williams’s follow-up....
As Juan asked Gingrich the question, the book reports, a Fox News producer in the control booth yelled: “Juan, don’t do this!”