In an interview with Sean Hannity on his radio program today, Sarah Palin made no bones about what she thinks of ABC’s decision to air an exclusive interview with Newt Gingrich’s ex-wife in advance of the South Carolina primary:

“The liberal media,” she added, “and some of that GOP holier-than-thou machine overplayed their hand this time.”

Palin said that Gingrich, who she identified this week as the candidate she would vote for in the South Carolina primary if eligible, would ultimately benefit from the media attack.

“I call them ‘dumb arses,’” she said. “They think by trotting out this old Gingrich divorce interview — that’s old news and it does feature this disgruntled ex- that claimed that it would destroy a campaign. All this does is, Sean, is incentivize conservatives and independents who are so sick of the politics of personal destruction because it’s played so selectively by the media.”

“Their target in this case, Newt,” Palin added, “is now going to soar even more because we know the game now and we just won’t put up with it. So you know, good call media. Way to go to covertly hype this, even with Gingrich opponents. For being so brilliant, they sure are dumb.”

Everybody keeps saying this is “old news,” but, for a new generation of voters (who are hopefully paying attention to all of this!), it’s actually not. The timing is off and Marianne Gingrich’s motivation is sketchy — but, if this inspires primary voters who haven’t yet done so to probe Newt Gingrich’s past (personal and political!) and price it into the value of his stock, then so be it. It’s relevant.

Sarah Palin is spot on, though, when she says that conservatives and independents are sick of the politics of personal destruction because it’s played so selectively. As Ed pointed out this morning, it’s maddening that the media is all too willing to revive talk of Gingrich’s past when they ignored John Edwards’ affair, which was going on as he ran for president. Personal integrity matters — and it should matter to both parties. Just because Democrats overlook the dishonorable personal lives of their pols, though, doesn’t mean Republicans have to — and I should still hope that this messy reminder of Gingrich’s past mistakes wouldn’t actually galvanize South Carolinians to vote for him if they wouldn’t have otherwise.