Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich lashed out at Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly on Tuesday night for her coverage of the sexual assault allegations recently made against Donald Trump.It's oviously unwise for a presidential candidate's male surrogate to accuse a female interviewer of being "fascinated by sex," especially when the candidate backed by the surrogate has attacked the same interviewer in an explicitly gendered way (and when the himself has a dubious sexual history of his own). It's equally obvious that you can't expect the media not to give extensive coverage to a breaking story about a presidential candidate's sexual behavior.
Gingrich, an open supporter of Trump's candidacy, blasted Kelly for focusing too much on Trump's sexual misconduct and not enough on issues like those raised by the speeches given by Hillary Clinton to bankers in 2013 where she discussed her views on immigration -- part of the trove of hacked emails recently released by WikiLeaks.
"You want to go back to the tapes of your show recently?" he said. "You are fascinated with sex and you don't care about public policy."
But I know why Gingrich is upset, though the campaign and party he represents have only themselves to blame.
Here's that "fascinated by sex" line in context:
GINGRICH: So it was 23 minutes of the three networks to cover that story, and Hillary Clinton had a secret speech in Brazil to a bank that pays her $225,000 saying her dream is an open border where 600 million people could come to America, that's not worth covering.Do you know why there wasn't saturation coverage of the WikiLeaks revelations? Because the press is used to being spoon-fed stories by party operatives, politicians, and campaigns. In a normal presidential election, when potentially embarrassing news breaks for one candidate, the opposing campaign will formulate a response, carefully craft some talking points, inject those talking points into speeches and ads ... and make sure that journalists know precisely how the campaign intends to frame the new revelation.
Do you want to go back through tapes of your show recently? You are fascinated with sex and you don't care about public policy.
But the Trump campaign is reliant on Donald Trump, whose surrogates apparently can't craft an effective message and who can't be bothered to stick to a message, especially when he's distracted by, say, an insult from anyone on the planet. The GOP and other Republican officeholders and candidates don't work in sync with the Trump campaign, so there's no possibility of message discipline.
So there's no coordinated Republican response to anything WikiLeaks has put out. Because the media hasn't been handed a pre-framed story and doesn't see Republicans running around with their hair on fire about one specific detail or another, the coverage, though there's been quite a bit of it, has been relatively muted.
Yes, there was a lot of negative coverage of Clinton revelations up through the middle part of this year. But that coverage was driven in part by journalist-whisperers (and leakers) in the Republican congressional delegation and elsewhere in the GOP. Those folks aren't doing quite as much anti-Clinton whispering with regard to WikiLeaks. They're waiting for their presidential candidate to do it. He's not coming through.
Also, the press doesn't want to cooperate with Trump -- partly because it's dawned on journalists that he's a loathsome human being, partly because it's clear now that he really might blow up the world as president, but also because he seems serious about his anti-press attacks. A typical Republican will tell the rabble that the liberal media is evil while working closely with journalists behind the scenes. The press-bashing is all theater. Trump, however, is serious about it. He cuts off news organizations. He urges crowds at his rallies to turn their wrath on the press.
So that's why the WikiLeaks revelations are falling flat. Ordinarily, Republicans, working in sync with one another and with the press, can turn any nothingburger into a Clinton scandal. But Trump and the rest of the GOP aren't doing the dance.