Surely there’s enough truth with which to attack Gingrich without resorting to lies. But apparently not, just as I predicted (don’t mean to blow my own horn, but…). First on TNR’s list of terrible things Gingrich has done and said is the following [interpolations mine]:
Gingrich divorced his first wife for Marianne Ginther, whom he began courting while he was still married [true]. He informed his first wife of his plans while she was in the hospital receiving treatment for cancer [false].
There’s no question that Gingrich, who has been married a whopping three times, was unfaithful during his marriages and then married his paramours and made each his next wife. That’s certainly behavior that can be attacked and criticized (although those who defended Ted Kennedy’s and Bill Clinton’s affairs might be subject to a charge of hypocrisy for doing so). But the other story makes for a much more juicy tale in these days when ordinary unfaithfulness has become rather ho-hum.
So, this is our choice: is TNR ignorant of the real story? Or is it fully cognizant of the truth and ignoring it for its own purposes, trusting that its readers will not know the difference and that the lie will achieve its purpose?
It almost doesn’t matter which the answer is; this is not responsible journalism either way. But, as I’ve said before under similar circumstances, don’t sit on a hot stove for them to issue a correction.
Speaking of corrections (and in case you haven’t followed the explanatory link), here’s an excerpt from the article by Gingrich’s daughter, who certainly ought to know what happened:
And as long as I can remember, media coverage about [my father] has contained misstatements of facts. The vast majority are simple mistakes that are easily corrected, understood and rewoven into an ongoing storyline.
But one of them seems to have taken on a life of its own, and simple corrections have not sufficed to set the record straight. Why does this happen? I can’t be sure, but I suspect that the narrative created by these untruths proves to be so much more compelling and more dramatic than what actually happened that it proves irresistible.
I’m talking about the story of my father’s visit to my mother while she was in the hospital in 1980.
…[H]ere’s what happened:
My mother and father were already in the process of getting a divorce, which she requested.
Dad took my sister and me to the hospital to see our mother.
She had undergone surgery the day before to remove a tumor.
The tumor was benign.
Ah, says the left, but Gingrich’s wife says otherwise!
Actually, she doesn’t. For the most part, the two accounts agree on the major facts. Here is Gingrich’s wife’s statement, based on a 1985 WaPo interview:
He walked out in the spring of 1980 and I returned to Georgia. By September, I went into the hospital for my third surgery. The two girls came to see me, and said Daddy is downstairs and could he come up? When he got there, he wanted to discuss the terms of the divorce while I was recovering from the surgery … To say I gave up a lot for the marriage is the understatement of the year.
So the divorce was already in the works before the surgery: check. Gingrich brought the girls to see their mother: check. Nowhere is cancer mentioned.
Gingrich’s daughter doesn’t say whether the terms of an already-in-the-works divorce were discussed that day. But the main (and seemingly only) point of disagreement between Gingrich and his first wife on what happened is that he denies he wanted to discuss the terms of the divorce during the visit, but concedes they did have an argument. Not all that surprising, if you know anything about divorcing couples.
I’ve also seen reports that Gingrich’s wife had already had some form of cancer prior to this surgery, and had recovered. But I can’t find any credible source on this—although at this point, I must say that I’m not sure what a credible source on the subject would be, since so many media outlets have proven themselves willing to lie or to show callous disregard for the truth.
Oh, and as for the TNR article that started this whole rumination? Once you get past terrible thing #1 and on to the other fourteen they list, you’ll find that many of them contain valid bad marks against Newt (no angel, he). But some of them will make you scratch your head and wonder what’s so terrible about them—except for the fact that they speak some un-PC truths, especially about the left and its agenda.