Chris Wallace agrees. I’d be surprised if there’s a single reporter at Fox who doesn’t. The ex-wife’s interview was the most buzz-heavy horse-race news story of the day; surely plenty of voters who’d read about it were curious to see how Newt would respond. If King hadn’t asked about it, he’d be getting hammered today for ignoring what Wallace aptly described as the “elephant in the room.” And for all the outrage at him, here’s the dirty little not-so-secret of his question: It was a total gift to Newt. Everyone knew it was coming, including/especially the guy who’s made moderator-bashing his forte at these debates. King might as well have been wearing a sign that read, “Please endear yourself to this media-hating conservative audience by punching me in the face.” So Newt punched him in the face for five minutes and got the predictable standing O and proclamations of victory and on we went. By the time the debate was over, Gingrich was telling Anderson Cooper what a “great job” King had done as moderator. Some commenters today seemed confused by that given Newt’s outrage earlier, but there’s nothing inconsistent about it. Of course Newt thought he did a great job: King had just tossed him the most grandstanding-ready softball ever.
In fact, for all of his vitriol about the media, Newt gets along with some of them just fine:
The same candidate who on Thursday decried “the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media” shows another face to the cadre of reporters who follow his campaign day-to-day. He jokes with them, publicly celebrates their birthdays, teases them about the early hour they are often forced out of bed to cover his events.
It’s not unusual for Gingrich to chat with reporters, off-the-record, in the hotel restaurant at the end of a long day on the campaign trail — and he engages them to a degree that’s unheard of on the other campaigns…
Hammond attributes the stark difference between the tongue-lashings Gingrich delivers at debates and the candidate’s relatively warm relationship with the traveling press — mainly embed reporters — to the way they interact with the campaign.
He doesn’t hate the media, but of course he hates The Media. He couldn’t be a conservative standard-bearer if he didn’t. John King belongs to both groups; hence Newt’s bipolar reaction to him last night.
Two clips for you here, one of Cavuto and the other, via Mediaite, of King after the debate. “This is one of those ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’ts.'”