Drudge: Gingrich's ex-wife is ready to dish; Update: Excerpts to be released before debate; Update: Nothing new revealed in interview?

You know who this benefits?

Marianne Gingrich has said she could end her ex-husband’s career with a single interview. Earlier this week, she sat before ABCNEWS cameras, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.

She spoke to ABCNEWS reporter Brian Ross for two hours. Her explosive revelations are set to rock the campaign. But now a “civil war” has erupted inside of the network, an insider claims, on exactly when the confession will air!

Just a little more late intrigue for a race that’s already in flux from Newt’s post-debate surge, Palin’s quasi-endorsement, Santorum’s possible victory in Iowa (the official results will be announced tomorrow morning), Perry’s uncertain status vis-a-vis calls for him to drop out, and yet another debate tomorrow night. Drudge says the interview’s tentatively set to air Monday, after the vote in South Carolina, but reporters from Politico and the NYT are hearing it’ll air … tomorrow, presumably before the debate. I’m surprised his ex didn’t insist that it be broadcast ASAP. If she’s coming clean now after years of silence, just as he’s readying his last stand against Romney, she’s obviously doing it to try to take him out. If you were her, wouldn’t you want it to drop before the primary?

Actually, she hasn’t been completely silent. Go read the Esquire piece from 2010 that everyone will be murmuring about until this thing finally airs. Quote:

Back in the 1990s, she told a reporter she could end her husband’s career with a single interview. She held her tongue all through the affair and the divorce and even through the annulment Gingrich requested from the Catholic Church two years later, trying to erase their shared past. Now she sits quietly for a moment, ignoring her eggs, trying to decide how far she wants to go.

Here’s the most sensational bit, after she found out about Gingrich’s new mistress:

She kind of guessed it, of course. Women usually do. But did she know the woman was in her apartment, eating off her plates, sleeping in her bed?

She called a minister they both trusted. He came over to the house the next day and worked with them the whole weekend, but Gingrich just kept saying she was a Jaguar and all he wanted was a Chevrolet. “‘I can’t handle a Jaguar right now.’ He said that many times. ‘All I want is a Chevrolet.'”

He asked her to just tolerate the affair, an offer she refused.

He’d just returned from Erie, Pennsylvania, where he’d given a speech full of high sentiments about compassion and family values.

The next night, they sat talking out on their back patio in Georgia. She said, “How do you give that speech and do what you’re doing?”

“It doesn’t matter what I do,” he answered. “People need to hear what I have to say. There’s no one else who can say what I can say. It doesn’t matter what I live.”

If her interview runs along those lines — Gingrichian egomania and hypocrisy but nothing criminal or lurid — I don’t know how much it’ll change things. You never know what information voters have and haven’t fully assimilated about a candidate, but Newt’s “values” problems have been public knowledge long enough that I take it they’re already mostly priced into his stock. He’s going to say she’s a disgruntled ex who’s making things up and, in any case, that he’s found redemption in his faith since the divorce. Unless she’s got a bombshell she’s ready to drop, how many voters thinking of voting for him at this point will really think twice?

Exit question: If the interview does air tomorrow, how hard will Santorum and Romney go after him at the debate over it? Santorum’s desperate to have social conservatives unite behind him, but this is an awfully messy attack to try with the, er, “Chevrolet” sitting in the audience in front of him.

Update: Word from the AP is that the interview will indeed air tomorrow — but on “Nightline,” after the debate. How they’re going to get through two hours with that sword of Damocles hanging over the event, I have no idea.

Looks like Newt’s daughters (from his first marriage) will be key to the damage control here:

As tentative plans to air the interview were disclosed, Gingrich’s campaign released a statement from his two daughters from his first marriage – Kathy Lubbers and Jackie Cushman – suggesting that Marianne Gingrich’s comments may be suspect given emotional toll divorce takes on everyone involved.

“Anyone who has had that experience understands it is a personal tragedy filled with regrets, and sometimes differing memories of events.

“We will not say anything negative about our father’s ex-wife,” they said. “He has said before, privately and publicly, that he regrets any pain he may have caused in the past to people he loves.”

Update: This is going to be some debate. Says Brian Stelter of the NYT, “ABC spokesman confirms: Marianne Gingrich interview WILL air Thur on ‘Nightline.’ Excerpts to be released earlier, i.e. before CNN debate.” So supposedly the network was wracked with anxiety over whether it’d be ethical to air the interview before the primary, and now not only are they going to do that, they’re actually going to … try to affect the debate with the timing of the release. Hello?

Update: Good lord. After all the hype tonight, is this thing actually going to be a giant nothingburger? Howard Kurtz:

A knowledgeable insider says that Newt Gingrich’s second wife does not say anything in the taped interview with ABC News that she hasn’t said in previous print interviews. But to repeat her account of how their marriage failed—because the then-House speaker was having an affair—in a form that can be endlessly replayed on television could prove a serious distraction for the presidential candidate two days before the South Carolina primary.

As Nate Silver said on Twitter tonight, imagine how epic Newt’s media-bashing will be at the debate tomorrow. Imagine.