Earlier Tuesday, Gingrich — who’d made 34 previous appearances on “Meet the Press” — said on a conference call that he “didn’t go in [to the interview] quite hostile enough, because it didn’t occur to me going in that you’d have a series of setups.” – NBC’s David Gregory Defends Medicare Question As Newt Gingrich Spokesman Blasts Media ‘Minions’
Newt’s pulling a Palin, blaming David Gregory for having told the truth on “Meet the Press.” Mr. Gingrich had been on MTP 34 times, so this won’t fly. What the “set up” issue is about is Tim Russert, because that was his interview style.
The video above is of Gregory on “Morning Joe” today pushing back and for good reason.
Gingrich buzz-sawed himself through talking points he thought would play well with a larger audience. Unfortunately, Republicans disabused him quickly that he’s going to waltz right into the nomination. What sounds good to the wider electorate and viewer, which made Gingrich 2.0 sound sane, won’t cut it for Republican primary voters, which Gingrich found out in swift order.
From the transcript where Newt got caught up on his own words:
MR. GREGORY: What about entitlements? The Medicare trust fund, in stories that have come out over the weekend, is now going to be depleted by 2024, five years earlier than predicted. Do you think that Republicans ought to buck the public opposition and really move forward to completely change Medicare, turn it into a voucher program where you give seniors…
REP. GINGRICH: Right.
MR. GREGORY: …some premium support and–so that they can go out and buy private insurance?
REP. GINGRICH: I don’t think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering. I don’t think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate. I think we need a national conversation to get to a better Medicare system with more choices for seniors. But there are specific things you can do. At the Center for Health Transformation, which I helped found, we published a book called “Stop Paying the Crooks.” We thought that was a clear enough, simple enough idea, even for Washington. We–between Medicare and Medicaid, we pay between $70 billion and $120 billion a year to crooks. And IBM has agreed to help solve it, American Express has agreed to help solve it, Visa’s agreed to help solve it. You can’t get anybody in this town to look at it. That’s, that’s almost $1 trillion over a decade. So there are things you can do to improve Medicare.
MR. GREGORY: But not what Paul Ryan is suggesting, which is completely changing Medicare.
REP. GINGRICH: I, I think that, I think, I think that that is too big a jump. I think what you want to have is a system where people voluntarily migrate to better outcomes, better solutions, better options, not one where you suddenly impose upon the–I don’t want to–I’m against Obamacare, which is imposing radical change, and I would be against a conservative imposing radical change.
There is nothing sneaky or underhanded in what Gregory asked, but he got the story by simply engaging Gingrich and letting him talk.
NBC News had a long run with the late Tim Russert, but his gotcha style, combative interviews where he always waited to spring a ridiculous question like “what’s your favorite Bible verse,” served no one. That Russert rarely included women in his line-up was a continual beef with me, which I wrote about for years. When you’re talking about the world women matter, but Russert froze out women as headliners, while also preferring Republicans.
If we got into the “If it’s Sunday it’s Misogyny” angle, all Sunday shows would lose and so do women, though at least today we have women anchoring them, Candy Crowley on CNN and Christiane Amanpour on ABC.
David Gregory exposed Newt Gingrich through fair, open debate. Katie Couric did the same thing when she interviewed Sarah Palin, as did Rachel Maddow when she interview Rand Paul and he ended up tying himself in knots over the Civil Rights Act.
No “set up” was used to coerce Mr. Gingrich, just straight out conversation that unfolded into a political death trap that Rockefeller Newt is still trying to explain his way out of but simply can’t.
This column has been updated.